Gazing at their newborns, most parents are ready to slay evil ogres and behead fire-breathing dragons to keep their precious new baby safe. Unfortunately, over the years, the perils facing their child will rarely appear in such easily recognizable forms. Instead they will often be cloaked in convincingly written articles and sincere professional advice.
How many young mothers today shake their heads condescendingly at the memory of their own grandmothers meticulously preparing bottles of formula? Yet the prevailing notion of that day was that scientifically engineered nutrition was better than breastfeeding. The trick is not to feel superior but instead to ask what might be today’s equally foolish and unsupportable fallacies.
According to a recent newspaper report, studies from Michigan State University and North Carolina State University illuminate one modern dragon. It seems that children with fall birthdays are substantially more likely to get diagnosed, incorrectly, with ADHD. This mis-diagnosis has extensive implications and often leads to the use of unnecessary and potentially harmful medication.
The fact that a perfectly normal condition – such as being born in November – can lead to a medical diagnosis should frighten all parents. A chasm separates a newborn from a year old toddler. The gap between a three and four year old is massive. Does it take anything more than common sense to realize that a twelve month difference is still huge when talking about kindergarten age children? Yet somehow, for more than a million children, smooth running of a classroom took priority over recognizing a natural growth and maturation process.
While it is human nature for mothers and fathers to feel proud (superior?) when their baby is an early walker or talker, no one feels the urge to send a still-crawling thirteen month old to remedial walking classes. That willingness to respect a child’s internal schedule dissipates rapidly. The more the child needs to fit in to a group, the less attention is paid to the child’s unique timetable.
As another school season begins, I wish all parents the desire and humility to seek out true sources of guidance; the wisdom to trust their instincts; and the courage to stand firm against the trends of the day.