What parent wants to deliberately hold his or her child back?
According to an essay in this past Friday’s Wall Street Journal, quite a few.
Writing on the Opinion page of the Weekend Journal, Bostonian Jennifer Graham points to a growing trend of parents who are deciding to keep their child back a year or two, for all kinds of reasons. Some do so because they think their children aren’t quite ready, be it academically, emotionally or even athletically.
Ms. Graham writes:
…the practice of having a child repeat a grade or two – an act that used to be a shameful sign of failure – is now considered a smart move that gives your offspring an edge. Seventy-four percent of respondents on CafeMom.com, a parenting website, said they would consider holding a child back even if the school recommended promotion.
Of course, there are many good reasons why a child might be better off repeating a grade than jumping ahead. Children develop at different rates and are blessed with varying degrees of natural gifts. By the sheer reality (good or bad) of the calendar, some kids start kindergarten when they’re barely 5, while others are already halfway toward 6. Nor are all homes created equal. Children who find themselves in a chaotic situation are probably going to be less prepared than a child who resides in a peaceful and fully functioning house.
But Graham suggests there might be a more sinister dynamic at play:
The offspring of the Baby Boomers and their insouciant descendents are not eager to don the mantle of adulthood, with its rude demands of maturity, flossing and alarm clock.
There’s been growing talk lately about this, of kids who just want to stay kids, whether by delaying driving or setting up shop in their parent’s basement. But does this growing trend of parents deciding to voluntarily hold their children back have much to do with young adults resisting the leap into maturity?
Might Ms. Graham be erroneously conflating the two matters? One is parent driven (holding a child back) while the other is young-adult centered (refusing to grow up!).
Given the many valid reasons parents might have a child repeat a grade, is it really fair to suggest these same students who are held back will become free-spirited twenty-somethings who mooch off mom and dad and still live at home, rent free?
That strikes me as something of a stretch.
Getting back to the heart of the matter, Jean and I haven’t felt the need to hold either Trent or Troy back a year, but we can certainly appreciate why others have.
But, let me ask you. What are your thoughts on this issue? Is there wisdom in this idea of holding a child back in order to help him or her get ahead later on?
Have you ever done it with your kids? Why? Why not?