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Marking the Wrong Milestones?

I just read an interesting piece on the Huffington Post from the end of May – yes, I’m behind – on parents in America versus other cultures, and how we mark different sorts of milestones than parents in, say, Sweden.

The article points out that while we as a culture raise spectacularly verbal kids – children here can bargain and negotiate like trial-room lawyers while still in kindergarten – we sometimes lose sight of other values that would be worthwhile to foster.

The author lists such values as thinking about others, and being more independent at an earlier age. On taking care of younger siblings, she writes:

In our country, we worry that asking siblings to care for each other puts an undue burden on their individual potential. The opposite is true: when we ask our kids to care for one another, it unleashes their potential as nurturing, socially responsible human beings.

I know I find myself sometimes putting on my eight-year-old’s shoes still, partly out of habit and partly out of a desire to hurry the whole process along; this is probably an anathema to a culture that has five-year-olds out herding the family livestock for hours at a time.

What do you guys think? And if we’re losing sight of some important social values here, what’s the best way to go about teaching them?


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