When our kids are born we concern ourselves with what is “age appropriate” for them. What toys are developmentally beneficial for their age. What age they should be hitting milestones like eating solids and walking and potty training. How old they should be to watch certain movies or play certain video games. We ask ourselves “Are they old enough for XYZ?”
We seem to be more concerned (or at least this mom anyway) with them being being old/big enough instead of them being too old. So I was at Busch Gardens with my family and my 6 year old son and I were waiting in line for a ride. It was hot, the wait was long, he was sugar full. He wanted me to pick him up and hold him while we waited. He was tired and the only other option was sitting on the floor. With out hesitation, I picked him up and held him. Another mother in line with us asked my son “How old are you?” and when my son replied “I am 6” she promptly told him that he was “too old for mama to be holding him like that.” I thought it very interesting.
One – that she would say this to us instead of keeping her opinions to herself (it felt very judgey).
Two – that she would say it with total disregard to how it would make my kid feel ashamed.
Three – that she would judge me for allowing this behavior to happen.
Four – that her words would forever change our personal son/mom dynamic.
So, was he too old? Should I have not allowed it? My heart says that the days of my son wanting to hold my hand and hug me and cuddle will soon come to an end. So I will never say no to a carry me, hug me, snuggle me. NEVER. What is the reason for cutting those precious moments short? Is it hurting him in some way?
It got me to thinking about the things we as parents do now with our kids that will have to soon change.
- when should we change a kids bed time?
- when are kids too old for summer camp?
- when are kids too old for a babysitter?
- when are kids too old for the women’s bathroom/changing room?
- when are kids too old for showering/bathing together?
- when are kids too old to be seeing their parents naked?
- when are kids too old to be breast feeding?
- when are kids too old to be co-sleeping with parents?
- when are kids too old for pacifiers?
- when are kids too old for teddy bears/comfort items?
- when are kids too old for trick-or-treating?
- when are kids too old for Santa?
- when are kids too old for a stroller?
- when are kids too old to be living at home?
What other ones am I forgetting? I am sure there are more. What have you and your kids had to “grow out of”?
Who makes the rules? Who sets the guidelines? Are these age recommendations based on any kind of proven research? Or are these suggestions based on cultural norms?
Every kid is different. Every mom is different. Every family is different. What is right for one is not necessarily right for another. I say we enjoy the diversity in parenting styles. I say we embrace our differences. I say we support a family’s choice to say when their kids are “old enough/too old”.
I will hug and kiss and snuggle my kids until the day I die … if they let me. That might not be your style – that’s cool. You do you mamas – don’t let any expert, book, parent, friend, society tell you what is age appropriate.
I am going to go snuggle my kids now… mic drop.
PS: Apparently you are never too old for Mickey Mouse, Dr Seuss, or JELLO.