Dear Abby: I’m 15 and My Parents Still Push Me in a Swing

Hi Readers and yowza. I hope this letter is a prank. If it’s not, how sad, how icky and how nuts. And for once I pretty much agree with Dear “Start Worrying NOW!” Abby.

DEAR ABBY: I’m a 15-year-old girl whose parents treat me like an 8-year-old. They not only refuse to let me see any movie that isn’t G-rated, but they still cut my meat for me! Once a week we go to the park, and they still push me on the swings.

I don’t want to tell them it’s embarrassing because I’m afraid I’ll hurt their feelings. Please tell me how to convey to my parents that I’m not a child anymore. — OLD ENOUGH IN VIRGINIA

DEAR OLD ENOUGH: Your parents mean well, but children who are overprotected to the extent you have been often become stunted in their development. Teens do not learn social skills and how to make appropriate choices when they are “supervised” to the extent you are.

Tell your parents that you love them, but in three years you will be 18 and an adult. Explain that you know they love you, but if you are not allowed some freedom now, then you will be behind your peers because of your inexperience when you have reached an age when you’ll be expected to make wise choices. Remind them that even children half your age are sufficiently coordinated that they can cut the food on their plates, and you would appreciate their allowing you to get some practice.

If this doesn’t help them let go, then ask another adult to help you deliver the message.

And if that doesn’t help, plop your parents on the swings and start pushing THEM. Wipe a smudge off their cheeks with your thumb. Then buy them each a balloon. Maybe they’ll get an idea how freaking weird this is!


I’m in California and will be giving a free talk Weds. night at the Presbyterian Church in St. Helena, in Napa Valley. Time: 7 pm. Address: 1428 Spring Street. No reservations necessary. Come one, come all!

58 Responses

  1. Does Dear Abby verify her letters?

    I have to say, I’ve known two ‘Attachment Moms’, who were both single moms and slept with their kids until they were 12, one of whom was a son. There are some odd parents out there.

    Speaking of Dear Abby, I don’t like the new one much. She’s riding on Mom’s coattails and does a mediocre job, doling out predictable advise.

  2. This girl thinks she’s being treated like an 8 year old? Sounds like a 3-4 year old, to me. (My oldest is 6 and he pushes his own swing and cuts his own meat, thank you very much. :P)

    Oh yes, and I evilly allow him to watch PG-rated films, sometimes. Go figure.

  3. So not OK. I was just talking to a friend tonight about how, when my oldest was a toddler, people were often shocked at how little I did for her – like I was a bad mom for not spoon-feeding her or making sure her hair was combed and her socks matched before we left the house.

    Now, at 5, she gets up, bathes, brushes her teeth, dresses herself, makes her own breakfast and snacks, collects her backpack and is ready for school. At school she’s polite and precocious.

    People constantly ask me how I got such an independent, competent kid. The answer: a little benign neglect goes a long way.

  4. “Please tell me how to convey to my parents that I’m not a child anymore.”

    Get pregnant.

  5. Ouch. Hope that letter is a hoax. Sad thing is, it might not be.

    And BTW – proudly did “attachment parenting” with our son. Big difference between that and attached at the hip parenting. We have raised him to know that we are there for him if he needs us, but by by all means go out and get some bruises and make mistakes! That is how life is. In my opinion, “free range” isn’t about forcing our kids off into the wilderness alone. It’s about letting them explore the wilderness when they are ready and not holding them back because of our irrational fears.

  6. If this is a serious letter, I would seriously consider the possibility that the parents just don’t know how to connect to their daughter. The flip side of “I’ll be 18 in three years” is “I’ll be gone forever in three years.” So my advice is, actively seek out some age-appropriate ways to connect to your parents. Maybe take a walk through the woods together instead of the swingset. Show them that infantalizing is not the only way to be together.

  7. OK, this is just creepy… I’m surprised at that age that she gives a damn about hurting their feelings.

  8. My 17 year old daughter recently got a job at the local pizza place. She wanted a checking account in which to keep her new income stream. My wife and I told her that there are many different banks and many different types of accounts, some with fees, some ‘free’, etc. We told her to call around and find something that would work for her.

    When my wife took her to the place she had chosen, and they sat down to set up
    the account, the nice bank lady kept looking to my wife for all of the answers to her questions. My wife just kept passing the ball to our daughter, who was supposed to have done her ‘homework’ and come prepared with her choices clear and her information in order.

    The nice bank lady soon began glaring at my wife every time she didn’t jump in and make a decision or answer a question for our unprepared daughter. In fact, our daughter got a little mad because every one of her friends’ parents would have simply set up the account FOR them, and probably would have stocked it with funds as well, all without asking the kid to learn to do anything on their own, or even leave the house.

    We are such unfair parents.

    We are living in strange times: The very few of us who try to raise truly competent children are scorned. It’s so backwards, but the majority of parents buy into the model that raises helpless kids. Why?

    Lenore, your follow-up to FRK needs to be “Free Range Teens”. I’ll help you write it, if you need assistance.

  9. This can’t be real. It’s a hoax….right? Please tell me it’s a hoax.

  10. @Lafe: Hey! I remember my father doing just that with me! I mostly thank him because it was the fourth time for him (my siblings had all gone through that too), and it must have been a true pain for him, being so busy and all.
    I especially remember both my dad and the bank guy scorning at me for wanting to read throughly the whole contract, because I was in no position at all to negotiate any of the clauses, of course. But they were very patient and explained everything with that awww-how-cute look in their faces…
    I think I was 17 at the time…

  11. @impassionedplatypi nailed it! All the help in the world for this kid to let her parents down easy without hurting their feelings is totally beside the point. She needs to push them away, so they can do some growing up.

  12. I also kind of wonder, in the event that it isn’t a hoax, if maybe she wrote in to dear abby because she knows her parents read it. I mean, how many kids that age really read dear abby?

  13. @impassionedplatypi: I did. And I expect quite a number still do, because Abby is usually situated next to the funnies in most papers.

  14. I would love to hear from more people who were raised by protective parents. It seems most of us were raised in the free-range (what we considered “normal” at the time) fashion, and have happy nostalgic memories of our childhoods. I wonder if people who were raised differently feel the same way. Do they feel as they weren’t allowed to experience the same freedoms that other kids had? Do they feel they were fully independent when they left home? I imagine most of them probably feel ok about their childhoods, but I’m curious.

  15. “I also kind of wonder, in the event that it isn’t a hoax, if maybe she wrote in to dear abby because she knows her parents read it. I mean, how many kids that age really read dear abby?”

    Dear Abby and Ann Landers were the second thing I started reading in the newspaper, probably about age 8. The first where the comics, and Dear Abby was located smack in the middle of the second page of comics.

  16. @Kim- My boyfriend was raised in a somewhat more protective environment than I was. He seems ok with it. He wasn’t nearly as babied as a lot of the horror stories we see here though, so maybe it’s a matter of degree. Plus, some of the protectiveness kind of made sense since he grew up in a place where people apparently got shot or stabbed on a somewhat regular basis…

  17. Probably a hoax, but who knows? Certainly in my experience the first “national pub” of any teenaged aspiring writer was a hoax in Ann Landers or Dear Abby. (The second, of course, was “Penthouse Forum.”) But if this is from a real 15 year old, RobC’s “get pregnant” suggestion might be a bit extreme. (Unless you attend the Houston Independent School District, in which case you would be perfectly normal.) A nice tattoo or body piercing should be enough to get your parents’ attention.

  18. Sounds a bit like a hoax, or at least an exaggeration, but I’m constantly being amazed by the new levels of overprotectiveness that parents display.
    I was at the symphony a few weeks ago and standing in front of of me in the bathroom line was a mom with her daughter who looked at least 9 or 10 years old (she was dressed “young” but came past her mom’s shoulder).The washroom was sort of divided in two sections and ladies were going left or right as stalls became available. When they got to the front of the line, the mom pushed the girl into the same STALL with her! And this wasn’t a big handicapped stall, it was an old theatre and the stalls were tiny for one person. Who want’s to use the washroom with your mom practically standing on top of you?
    talk about hovering!

  19. “Lenore, your follow-up to FRK needs to be “Free Range Teens”. I’ll help you write it, if you need assistance.”

    Hopefully, if we raise our kids free range, they’re become free range teens! But, if its’ too late for the ‘kid’ stage, a teen perspective sounds GREAT.

  20. This. Can’t. Be. Real.

  21. It is my understanding that “Dear Abbey” just makes up fictional letters to go along with the answers. But hey, maybe I’m just being cynical.

  22. If this is real, this is another case where this isn’t just overprotection due to misguided child-rearing beliefs; there is probably mental illness or at least serious social dysfunction involved somewhere. But even though I usually think Dear Abby’s letters are legit (after all, is the idea that a situation is outrageous a reason to think it might not be real? In this world?), I do have my doubts about this one.

  23. Sounds fake. I mean, my tots demand that I let them do things they can do – at least until I start telling them it’s their responsibility, LOL. At age 2 my tots could use a knife and fork (on soft food) and the less lazy of the two could pump her own swing (and she does NOT let me push her in the swing, nor sit her on the swing, even if it’s pretty high off the ground.) If this child is letting her parents push her on the swing after primary school, she’s a very unusual child. Seems the parents may be reasonable to assume that she likes it, if she has never said anything about it. As far as pumping a swing goes, if you and your kid both prefer it that way, it’s not going to matter in the long run. Kinda like tucking her in bed. But cutting one’s meat is a different story.

    By the way, I used to read Dear Abby, Dear Ann Landers, and Hints from Heloise when I was a young teen. It’s a great way for a young girl to learn about troubleshooting real-life problems. I mean, there’s always Mom, but who listens to her? I am still the only person I know who can fold a fitted sheet – thanks, Heloise!

  24. The letter may seem like a fake, but I know a “woman” over 25 years old who STILL asks her mother if she likes something on the menu when they go out to eat. Not only that, her mother still takes the “ickies” out of her chicken for her. Seen it with my own eyes. My wide, wide, boggling eyes.

  25. To quote the late, great James Brown: “Good Gawd, y’all!”

  26. At 16 I had a job, a bank account (that I got on my own), a debit card and a car that I paid for the gas for. I had also applied and tested into college (by myself). The thing about parents being free range is that when DO make rules and boundaries they need to be firm and loving and INVOLVED. I lived my life mostly by myself and then when I wanted to get married at 16 all of a sudden my parents decided to crack down on me. Needless to say it caused a lot of issues.

    To get back to the point, if this is a real letter, I would say this girl needs to start shunning her parents company and start hanging out with kids her own age like normal teenagers do. Get involved in school activities, make her life busy with her own things so that her parents can see that she is growing up and starting to have her own life. And I agree with whomever said that age appropriate activities with parents is a good idea. Refuse to go to the playground, or to see a G rated movie (as respectfully as possible), and suggest hiking or swimming.

  27. I would suggest (if she can in her state, if not, for when she’s 16) for this young lady to get a part-time job, even if it’s just babysitting. Not only would it keep her out of her parent’s line of smothering, but she’d develop responsibility and skill, form other mentor relationships and peer relationships, and have her own money to facilitate her taking herself to her own movies, perhaps rated PG even.

    I also have to mention that I do believe the attachment parenting ideal helped the helicopter phenonmenon move forward, it is not necessarily synonymous with helicoptering and it’s a disservice to imply that it is. It’s perfectly possibly to attachment parent without helicoptering, and I did so with my son. I encourage him every day in his independence, while being glad every day of the emotional bond we formed at least in part through the attachment methods.

  28. If this is real I would hate to be that kid. My college boyfriend had been overprotected most of his life. The first time he ever watched an episode of the Simpsons was when he was in college. His mother did not allow it in her house (even when he had his own room and TV in the basement). I don’t think he had ever seen a movie over a PG rating either and he was 18 when I met him. He was allowed out on his own, though, and would borrow his parents’ car but always had to tell them where he was going and call when he got there and before he left (this was before cell phones), etc, but wasn’t allowed to go to the mall or movies alone.

    It kind of baffled me even then. When I was 16 I was walking 5 blocks to the L station and taking it downtown (Chicago) and wandering around the city for hours on end (even after dark in the winter). Sometimes I would remember to tell my mom I was going out but a lot of times I didn’t. She just assumed I’d be home when it was dinner time. I have such fond memories of riding the trains and people watching and walking along the lake shore up to Lincoln Park Zoo (then taking the bus back to the loop because I was too tired to walk any more). I rarely had more then a couple bus tokens and like $5 on me and no cell phones back then. I can’t even imagine having my parents so far up my butt that they were still cutting my food for me as a teen. Geesh. I don’t even do that for my kids and they are 9, 8 and 7 (I still help the 7yo and cut things for my 3yo but even then I expect them to try and do it themselves a bit).

    Of course, when I went off to college (in another state…an 8 hour drive from home) I was like the only one in my dorm that didn’t cry themselves to sleep the first night or call home within days of the parents leaving. I didn’t even hook up my long distance until 3 weeks into the school year and rarely ever called home. All the other kids went home the first weekend because they were so homesick…and didn’t know how to do their laundry so had to take it home for Mommy to do it for them. I only went home on breaks when they closed the dorms (Thanksgiving, Christmas and spring break). Moved out of the dorms during my sophomore year just before turning 20.

  29. I’m too lazy to dig out the paperwork, but I’m pretty sure that in my state at least, a parent has to sign off on an under-18’s work permit. At her age, most legal avenues for “getting out from under” the strict control of her parents are closed to her unless she can (and wants to) invoke social services or other legal protection. There are very few things an underage child can independently do if the parent forbids it, and very few avenues other than getting yourself declared emancipated or abused to get around parental authority.

  30. @ pentamom

    Yup, echoing what I was thinking. Parents in my state have to sign a work permit. Even back in the ’80s when I was that age, I had to have parental permission to work and there was no way in hell I was going to get permission. Even babysitting, if someone won’t drive you, you can’t do it. And piercings and tattoos? Definitely need parental permission. Been there, done that. I told both kids that I would sign for piercings, as those can be removed, and I thus sort of consoled myself with the idea that if they wanted to get a questionable body part pierced, it would be done with as much safety as possible. The tongue, say. And I did end up signing for a tongue piercing. I said no signatures for tattoos, as I didn’t want to be held in any way responsible if they hated it at 30. The tattoo stance I had to back off of with my daughter. After she gave birth to an 8lb 12 oz baby unmedicated, and nursed him, I figured that was about the most adult thing she could do with her body, and I didn’t really have any say about artwork she wanted to put on it. She got her son’s initials tattooed when she was almost 17.

    But yeah, if this chick is for real, she’s got to get a life somehow. Maybe just don’t come home from school one day, take the bus to the library, get a library card… jeez you probably have to have permission to have one of those of your own now too… and check out a book her mommy wouldn’t read. Seems so vanilla, yet it might have an impact on parents like this.

  31. Where I grew up you could get a work permit for certain jobs at 14, and employment in general at 16, and at least by 16 no parental consent was required. Depending on where she is, she may or may not be able to get a job.

  32. I have ason who is very independent when he wants to be he is six he comes home from school gets his own food out of the refrigerater and sticks it in the microwave heats it up gets dressed on his own only when he wants when he doesen’t want to he goes to dad he never comes to me becouse he knows I wont do it this goes to show that we as parents tend to mother or children to much let them do for theirselfs.

  33. There was a note above about a tall girl being put into the bathroom with her mother – please don’t judge by apperances. I know a young lady who has XXX syndrome, is taller than her mother (at 10) and probably functions round 6 at this point. Reactions like this to her and her family are extremely painful. Be thoughtful!

  34. My daughter is not yet six, and she can go to the toilet by herself.

  35. @gramomster: I don’t know how it is where the letter-writer, if real, is from, but you need parental permission to get a library card in Edmonton, Canada if you’re under 18. I know this because I needed to do a research project, and I’m not normally a library goer though I love books, so I had to get my mummy downtown to sign a big old form saying I was responsible enough to have books n’ stuff. This boggled my mind. At 17, I was deemed responsible enough to get a job, drive on my own, live on my own, get married without my parents consent, and raise children, (not that I did…er…any of those things), but not responsible enough to bring back some musty old books about the Hitler Youth on time without my mother co-signing.

  36. @Rachelh and Zie:
    Glad to hear others are blending attachment parenting and free-range parenting. We’re trying to do that with our three kids (7, 2, 1), since we see benefits in both philosophies. They often appear to be at the total opposite ends of the spectrum, though!

    Seems to me if we give our kids the attachment they need when they’re really little we will reap huge rewards when they are older; they will feel secure enough to spread their “free-range” wings!

  37. Yeah, the bathroom thing – last week some woman brought her son into the women’s room and he had to be at least 8, maybe older – and he was totally peeking. (This was at a Suburban Olive Garden restaurant.) Don’t know if he went into the stall with her or not. I take my 2 girls in with me if the stall is not very clean – but they are 3. In a clean bathroom if it’s not crowded, I let them go into the stall and do their thing on their own. The minute they are able to reach the sink on their own, they will be taking themselves to the restrooms.

  38. What does pushing a teenager on the swings have to do with “attachment” or “attachment parenting”? I think the letter is a hoax, personally.

  39. JeninCanada — You’d be surprised how many parents go from free range to helicopter when their kids hit puberty, unfortunately. If you look through the archives, I recall at least one in the past couple of months that talked about a teen who lost about half her freedom solely because she became a teenager (the following discussion then prompted some more stories, of course).

    There’s a whole different set of fears that parents see when their kids hit the new stage of life. I think a Free-Range Teens would be an awesome addition to FRK. 😀

  40. Re: Getting a job and such

    Unless things have changed drastically and I was unaware of said changes, you can get a job without a parent signed work permit at 15 or 16 in Virginia (which is where the letter writer is claiming to be from).

    I’m not sure about the library card thing. I know that when my boyfriend got a library card a few months ago they required him to show proof of his address, but I have no idea if there are extra requirements for people under 18.

  41. @Elizabeth:
    Not sure which point of view you are coming from, but “attachment” was brought up in the first reply, with a negative comment. So I feel compelled to answer your question. This is my take:

    True attachment parenting does not require one to sleep with their children until they are teenagers or push them on the swings when they don’t want to be pushed on the swings.

    Attachment parenting is about fostering a healthy attachment with your child, both physically and emotionally, so they have a safe harbor as they grow and explore their world. Then they will not fill that void with primary attachments with their peers, who will not help them mature since they, as a rule, are immature as well! As with any relationship, this changes over time, going from more physical attachment when children are very young to a close emotional bond when they are older, but still, of course, enjoying each others’ company.

    I don’t think this is in opposition to the free-range philosophy. And I want to point out that probably most “attachment parents” would think pushing your 15-year-old on the swing, when she doesn’t want to be pushed, is ridiculous. And hopefully, with true AP, the relationship would be close enough for the teenager to express her feelings to her parents without fear.

  42. The letter writer must have been a very cooperative kid as a child. Some kids have a fierce independent streak and insist on doing it themselves. My kids do that about some things but not others. I feel like we make it too easy on kids (velcro shoes) and they fight it if we ask them to do things on their own. I had to force all my kids to learn to swing on a swing by themselves. They all wanted me to come out to the backyard and push them. Eventually, they all learned. My 9 year old could care less what her hair looks like. She doesn’t know how to brush it and would prefer to hide it under a hat. I think she is old enough but I guess I have to trust she will eventually care about it.

    I completely identify with the person who write about taking the L downtown and exploring Chicago. My parents didn’t have a car, so we all took the busses and trains to go anywhere. My sister and I started taking 1 bus to piano lessons when I was 10 and she was 8. The majority of high school students take the CTA in Chicago. In Illinois, people can work at age 16 without parental involvement, but I even had a job with the park district at age 12, being a day camp counselor for $5/week. Perhaps my mom had to sign something, but I don’t remember.
    I am at a loss as to how to raise my kids in the suburbs. We happen to live on a dead end street and not in a neighborhood. The public transportation doesn’t work the same way out here. I want my kids to be involved in sports. When I grew up, the kids walked or rode their bikes to little league, while many parents were at work. I would love to drop them off because I know they are in a safe environment. I’m sure that looks like a bad parent.

  43. My first thought in when I read this was if she’s 15, then she must be having menstral periods. How do her parents respond to that? Do they treat her like she’s contaminated and shut her up in her room? Make her eat off separate dishes? Pads or tampons, or any products at all?! Could they possibly be leaning precariously toward a religious viewpoint with all this intolerance of adulthood? I’ve heard many stories from my great grandmother (she was raised on a farm in the Bible-Belt area) about how, when women were in their ‘moon-time’ they’d be banished to a separate area of the house, away from everyone else because you were ‘unclean’. Only women who were married, widdowed, or had already birthed children could handle their clothing and help with their care (washing, using the facilities, etc.), which they still do in many third world countries even today. Hope this is a hoax, because in the modern world that’s something I just can’t wrap my head around.

  44. I think that this letter could be real, but I also think that this girl must have been a willing participant in this arrangement, and perhaps is just now getting tired of it. After all, how do you force a 15-year-old onto a swing? I couldn’t do that with my 7 year old. However, with my kids, I’ve noticed that they often want to be “all grown up” in public but babies at home. I’ll admit helping my daughter in the bathroom way longer than necessary, and it only stopped when I finally put my foot down. The same thing with putting my kids’ socks on them, etc. Sometimes you just are used to the same routine that started when the child was little. None of this excuses the parents in the letter, who are seriously nuts.

  45. My daughter’s kindergarten teacher sent a note home before Christmas that after the break she would no longer be tying shoes for children. Who sends their kids to kindergarten without knowing how to tie their shoes?

  46. My older 2 kids didn’t learn to tie shoes until 1st grade. My son was already 7 and half way through the year (I taught him over Christmas break that year). My middle daughter is in 1st grade now and can not tie shoes. She does not have the dexterity in her fingers to do it. She just figured out how to button her shirt in kindergarten.
    I HAD to teach my son because he has to wear dress shoes to school and 90% of those for boys have laces on them. The shoes we had just weren’t staying tied even with double knots so he had to learn. I felt bad for his teacher since all the boys have laces on their shoes.
    My daughter’s shoes have velcro. She doesn’t really need to learn right now.
    Teaching shoe tying was never a priority since all their shoes had velcro on them. My son is 8 now and actually ties better then his 9yo sister because, even though she learned to tie in 1st grade, she hasn’t had a pair of laced shoes since then (she’s in 4th grade now). She’s had no practice. Many times he ends up having to tie her shoes for her because she can’t do it right. My son has to tie his shoes every day (both his school shoes and gym shoes are laced, he refuses to buy shoes with velcro any more, lol).

  47. Kim,
    The majority of kids come to school not knowing how to tie shoes. I had a 4th grader this year struggle with it, but I suspect he has LD issues and definitely fine motor skill issues. (He moved before I could get him tested).

    When I was on the specials team (art, music, PE, library, and I was tech but we didn’t have the money this year) we all flat out refused to tie shoes. The kids had to tie them or have friends tie them or stick the laces in their shoes. I wasn’t touching them. Especially since we have parents that send kinders barely potty trained and not capable of taking care of themselves in the bathroom.

    Our principal had to tell a 1st grader’s mother either he uses the bathroom like other 1st graders, or he wears a diaper and gets changed by the life skills teacher – but no more in the classroom. The boy in question does have physical disablilites and we will accommodate him but no more just going in his pants.

  48. My uncle and his now ex-wife had some very strange ideas about how to go about raising my cousin, their only child. Some of them, while pretty weird in my opinion, were well-intentioned in that they were aimed at making him more independent…for instance, as soon as he had enough coordination to put hand to mouth, they never fed him; he was served cubes of frozen baby food on his high chair tray so he could feed himself. (My grandmother just about went into convulsions when we visited for his christening and she witnessed one of his mealtimes.) He also never slept in a crib, or even a real bed. For the greater part of his childhood, he slept on a mattress on the floor with my uncle. (Not a clue where my aunt was…presumably, that kind of thing was one of the many factors in their estrangement and subsequent divorce.) Now, I’m not calling anyone weird who advocates co-sleeping…but one would expect that the child would eventually be moved into his or her own room, right? Well, I have no idea how old my cousin was before that happened, if it ever did.

    Up until the last time I saw them, right before my grandfather’s death in 2002, my cousin (who was 15 at that time) was practically joined at the hip with my uncle. If my uncle sat on the couch, my cousin was sitting right next to him, and would most likely be poking at him or messing with his hair, or some other touchy-feely thing like that. They were hardly ever more than 5 feet from each other at any given moment. Whining and sulking were not uncommon for my cousin whenever he failed to get his way in something. My one and only trip out with them–for a restaurant dinner and a movie–was a special kind of hell that I never want to experience again. My uncle, like the parents in this poor girl’s letter, cut his food for him, and then hardly seemed to notice as my cousin left his plate nearly untouched as he snitched half of my uncle’s dinner from his plate. The movie, to my surprise, was attended only by me and my cousin…my uncle didn’t want to see the same one, so he went into another theater, leaving me to manage the ill-mannered snot, who insisted on talking and squirming in his seat through nearly the entire picture. (I don’t even remember what we saw.) Although the rest of the family–and, I don’t doubt, many members of the general public–found it strange and fairly uncomfortable to watch, my uncle never made any attempt to discourage his son from doing this kind of thing, or to encourage him toward more age-appropriate behavior.

    Needless to say, it was a total shock to both me and my husband when we heard that my cousin (who is now going on 23) had opted to attend college in another state, where he would be living in a dorm and not with my uncle. I would dearly love to know how that worked out for both of them, but we don’t hear from my uncle much anymore, and I don’t know how well he would receive the question if I asked him.

    At least “Old Enough” recognizes that there is a problem, and has enough sense to want to fix it.

  49. @Jen, true the velcro shoes are easier. That’s what we bought for a long time, but when it came near time for my daughter to go to school we purposely bought lace-up shoes so that she could learn how to tie them. The only problem we had is that she liked to tie them so much that she got in trouble tying them to the table legs in the classroom!

  50. Kim, a lot of kids come to kindergarten unable to tie their shoes, and – given that I remember this as part of the curriculum when *I* was in kindergarten – it’s been that way for at least two decades now.

    There’s nothing strange about that. I, personally, didn’t learn until I was in my double digits, but I had a combination of 1. being left-handed and 2. having undiagnosed fine-motor control issues that made it harder… and by the time I was in the first grade and the last one I just started taking the laces out of my shoes entirely and gave up on it for a few years.

    Looking back on how I actually learned to tie my shoes eventually and how I was taught, I suspect there was some communication issue as well. The way I think of how I’m doing it is *not* the same as the instructions people kept giving me, which made no sense to me. I’m doing the same things now that they were doing then, but I don’t think we conceptualize what we’re doing in the same way.

  51. Incidentally, remembering my own bad experiences, I taught my older niece the summer before kindergarten. LOL, the day her teacher sent home the “class shoe” so she could “learn to tie her shoes”!

    I went up to her and said “You know, it says to practice tying her shoes, but Ana already knows how to tie her shoes….”

    “No she doesn’t. Does she?”

    “Yes, yes, she does.”

    “But… she keeps asking me to tie her shoes during the day! I keep tying them!”

    “Well, don’t, then, she can do it herself! Ana! Stop making your teacher tie your shoes, she’s a busy woman!”

    Little conniver 😛

    But what I did is I didn’t *tell* her anything at all – after all, if the little rhymes worked for everybody else, or the straight-talk of “going through the hole” that I don’t see there works for everybody else, well, maybe how I see it won’t work for Ana. Instead, every time we tied her shoes, I sat behind her, wrapped my arms around her, and had her watch my fingers. This gave her a more normal viewpoint than if I’d sat in front of her.

  52. So I guess I didn’t realize so many kids didn’t know how to tie their shoes by kindergarten. My bad. I have three kids and they all were taught prior to kindergarten, but I guess each kid is different. However, I wonder why parents whose kids don’t know how to tie their shoes would send them to school in lace-up shoes when velcro shoes are readily available. I can’t imagine being a teacher and having to tie all the kids’ shoes. The note my daughter’s teacher sent home gave me the impression that she expected the kids to know how to tie their own shoes.

  53. I wish I could find nice girl shoes that tie, so I could teach my kids how to tie them. They have been wanting to learn for a long time, but they just have one dress-up doll to practice on – and the laces are too short on that, thanks to whatever child safety law regulates lace length on toys.

    Now that my girls are both 3, I plan to make a concerted effort to get them laced shoes once they outgrow their present shoes. If they go to KG without knowing how to tie, I’ll be ‘shamed. In my generation (when lots of kids started KG at 4), that was almost unheard of. Since I know kids “can” do it, I expect my kids to learn.

  54. We bought a wooden toy shoe that’s made for teaching kids to tie their shoes for my kids. They mostly have velcro shoes so they really haven’t needed to pick that skill up, but I want them to be ready for the next time they choose shoes with laces rather than velcro.

    As for the letter, I would love for it to be a hoax. It’s terrible!

  55. How do you think you would go about making a wooden toy ?

  56. OK, this is just creepy… I’m surprised at that age that she gives a damn about hurting their feelings.

  57. most brands of kids shoes are using synthetic leather which is sometimes hard for a kid’s feet ‘`;

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: