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The ‘Mama Instinct’ answer: They’ll do fine.

The things we do as parents.

We want our children to do well. We want them to succeed. We want them to say the right thing. To be respected by adults in their lives.

And sometimes that leads us to act in rather silly ways.

Last week that lesson hit home for me. I was teaching an online course at Athena’s Advanced Academy, a provider of online classes for gifted kids. We don’t test for the “gifted” part of it—our approach is that if kids can’t keep up, they figure out that they’re not in the right place.

For the most part, this approach works great. Research shows the the most reliable predictor of whether a child is gifted is the parent. Parents are keen observers of their children, and they notice when their kids are different.

“Trust your mama instinct” is something I heard often when my kids were young.

But sometimes we go a little past that. Sometimes, after trusting our instincts, we feel compelled to go beyond and, perhaps, do a little extra work to insure that our instincts were correct.

In a class last week, one of my new students turned on her microphone three times to answer questions. I always love hearing my students’ voices, and love waiting to find out the surprising and insightful things they will say.

But in this case, once, then twice, then three times, I heard the mother’s voice in the background prompting the child on what to say.

“Really?” I thought. “Who signed up for this class, the kid or the mom?”

I had a mix of feelings.

I was affronted as a teacher that a parent would invade our space this way.

As a parent, I was horrified that a fellow parent wouldn’t know how damaging this was.

As this child’s teacher, I felt that I was sharing in her mortification.

Just to be clear: All the other students could hear the mother. As far as I know, none of the other students was being fed answers by a parent. They were taking part in the class in good faith, being who they were: complex bundles of gifts, deficits, inconsistencies, and contradictions.

But this is a story with a happy ending, or at least, a funny one.

The last time my student turned on her mic to answer a question, you could clearly hear the mother’s answer in the background first, and then the daughter’s.

But the answers didn’t match. The girl ignored her helicoptering parent and used her own mind.

I almost cheered.

Parents, please understand:

  You have your life; your children have theirs

      Your children will make mistakes, and this is how they learn

          Your children will sometimes be brilliant

and yes…

    Your children will say things that are not brilliant

         Your children will sometimes be wrong!

Here we are, complex bundles of gifts, deficits, inconsistencies, and contradictions. Get used to it. Let your kids go, and let them make mistakes. If you can’t trust your own “mama instinct,” trust mine:

They’ll do fine.

Posted in Homeschooling, Parenting.


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