When Trusting Your Instincts Means Holding Your Child Back

The greatest gift a mother receives is the one that cannot be found on any registry – her motherly instinct.

We gain a sixth sense to protect and nurture our child always. It’s knowing that you know your child better than anyone else – doctors, teachers, the media. They may be the professionals in their chosen fields but you are the expert on your kiddo.

Trust your instincts, Momma.

It’s that first time that only your touch can comfort your newborn baby. It’s the eyes in the back of your head that prevent a trip to the emergency room. It’s deciphering whether a tummy ache is the flu or just farts. It’s a lifetime sentence of a gut feeling that won’t go away — from the moment you panic because they slept through the night to any moment that you leave them in someone else’s care.

It’s finding that balance between tugging the reins to keep them protected to letting them go to let them find themselves in this great big world.

Just like being a web-shooting arachnid superhero, parenting is a never-ending lesson in the greatest of responsibilities. Each and every decision you make does not just affect you but also the life of the tiny human you were somehow trusted with. Most decisions we make do not affect them in the long run because in the battle of pizza versus tacos, face it, we all come out winners.  But we do often come face-to-face with many decisions that will affect their lives long after we’re gone.

Last year, I hit one of those decisions head-on.  I realized I’d pushed my motherly instincts to the side for too long

I figured out that my son should repeat second grade before anyone else.

I realized that this was a long time coming as well. After his autism diagnosis, we worked with our school system to get him an Individualized Education Program (IEP). At our IEP meeting, we learned that he’d be entering a half-day 3K program just a month later. My husband and I hadn’t discussed school yet and were a bit leery about starting him in school too young (as his birthday is at the end of June). In the end, we agreed because we wanted to get our son the support he needed.

The four years that followed were filled with lots of meetings, forms and tests, along with an added ADHD diagnosis. Cristian transitioned from special education to a mainstream class, from an IEP to a 504 plan, and through three schools in an attempt to find the best environment for him. Motherly instincts aren’t always spot on, hence the change in schools.

Motherly instincts also aren’t always packaged neatly as epiphanies with birds chirping, heavens parting and harps playing. Sometimes they slap you in the face…hard. When you’re told your son, who was placing far below baselines in both reading and math on testing, would be “more than ready” for third grade in less than two months. When you’re shown work that other students had completed to realize your son was nowhere near this level. When you realize that the ball was dropped and the 504 plan put in place for his growth, success and safety was not being followed.

Trust your instincts, Momma.

On the way home, I told my husband that I thought Cristian should repeat second grade and like the former forensics nerd I am, I gave a detailed argument as to why. I explained that this decision was four years in the making and if we didn’t do it now, when we were already changing schools, that we might never have another opportunity. Though leery at first, my husband understood and eventually agreed.

I was later cornered, scolded and told that the decision wasn’t mine to make by my son’s former principal.  I was told that I didn’t know what I was saying and I’d be hurting my son in the long run. I took his comments in stride because I knew I needed to trust my motherly instincts.

When proposing the idea to Cristian, he admitted that it felt like he was “drowning” in class. He exclaimed that he was in a constant sensory overload because he could never catch up. It felt like a punch in the gut to find out how my boy truly felt, but I feel that deep down inside I had that gut feeling all along.

Cristian has made the most of his second time in second grade. He started at a new school and started to flourish both academically and socially. Getting him out of bed is no longer a fight (most days) and the hardest part about picking him up from school is waiting for the choruses of goodbyes daily. Opening his folder to look at his assignments isn’t torturous and conferences no longer bring me to tears.

It’s our job as parents to make the decisions for our children until they can help us or make them on their own.  And while it’s true that motherly instincts aren’t always right, sometimes they’re all we have to go by — along with faith and a little blind luck.

Trust your instincts, Momma.

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4 Responses to When Trusting Your Instincts Means Holding Your Child Back

  1. Erica August 8, 2017 at 6:50 am #

    Good for you! And I am so saddened as an educator to hear that you weren’t supported by the administration on this move. So many students are pushed forward when they shouldn’t be. As the mom of two summer babies we’ve be been discussing the same thing and hoping that we won’t be afraid to hold our kiddos back or have them repeat if they just aren’t ready or are struggling. Thank you for sharing!

    • Mandy
      Mandy August 10, 2017 at 2:54 pm #

      Erica, I definitely agree. I felt like he was being pushed and I wonder how many other kiddos are in that very same position. Summer birthdays are tough, for sure! There’s an unspoken stigma behind holding a child back and I hope this helps other parents (like you) realize there doesn’t need to be! Good luck with your summer babies and their schooling and thank you for taking the time to read!

  2. Nancy August 8, 2017 at 8:47 am #

    We had the same response a few years back. We held our son back in preschool and it was the best decision ever! The school said we were wrong but after the year went by, the special ed teacher told us we really did make the right decision. Hind sight!

    • Mandy
      Mandy August 10, 2017 at 2:55 pm #

      Nancy, it was definitely the best decision we could have made for him. Hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it? I’m glad that your son is doing well, and thank you for taking the time to read this and comment with your experience!

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