Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: The Anxious Mother

Every week, Danny Ortberg and Nicole Cliffe discuss a Prudie letter. This week: the anxious mother.

Nicole: Well, first of all, what a shitty mom you had!

Danny: your kid is already doing better than you were, because your kid doesn’t have a cruel, demanding, stinting mother

Nicole: I think it’s great you have enough self-awareness to be worried that your son might ever experience that.

But also schools are WAY less into having kids skip years now

So if they’re suggesting it, a single year might be just fine, if HE is on board

Danny: yeah, does your son have any interest in it?

he may be perfectly happy in his class now

Nicole: Right!

If he has buddies and fun extracurriculars, who cares

Danny: there’s a big difference between “my kid does great on tests so the school wants to move him up” and “my kid is frustrated and bored to tears with his coursework and needs way more of a challenge”

Nicole: He’ll be just as smart when he gets there eventually. BUT if he’s bored and chafing under that tedium, sure, try it out

Danny: not for nothing is, like, 15% of twitter now a variation on “if you were in gifted classes in elementary school you are a ball of anxiety and cat hair now”

Nicole: SO TRUE

my dad skipped two years and he can barely function

Danny: I’d take more of a “let’s see how the next 1-2 years go and if he’s really eager to move up, we can try it” approach

rather than go straight to skipping as your first option

Nicole: Basically, do what your mom didn’t do: listen to your actual child

Danny: you can always just take him to the library more

and for your husband, you know, your kid is already smart, has two attentive parents, and is at a school that recognizes his capabilities: he’s going to be FINE

Nicole: Or extra enrichment classes, like extra math 2x a week if that’s his thing

Yes, agreed

Danny: you get diminishing returns at a certain point and just start stressing kids out

Nicole: Also I’m so sorry about your shitty mom, just want to reiterate that

Danny: and if the nightmares persist, get yourself a therapist who can specialize in childhood trauma/flashbacks

whether that be EMDR, DBT, whatever

Nicole: Heck yes


Danny: and just remind your husband that like, the worst outcome if you two don’t let your son skip a grade is that he stays at the top of his class

so the stakes are not as high as they might feel! Your son is doing great, not moving him up a grade is not harming him or failing to capitalize on a big, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity