I was having a discussion yesterday about what constituted a pushy parent. We seemed unable to agree on a definition although it was clearly disparaging as everyone was keen to defend themselves against the charge.
My idea of what constitutes a pushy parent was formed when I was quite young. Or at least, I had a pretty clear idea of what a pushy parent was not. I just had to look round the tea table for a couple of role models. My parents encouraged, cajoled and supported but never pushed. They afforded us opportunities in life, but as long as we gave it a proper shot and didn’t give up as soon as the going got tough, they never made us do things. I could see around me the parents of friends who got terribly aerated at Sports’ Day and seemed disproportionately nervous as we waited to do a music exam but my parents just wanted me to do well.
I suppose some aspects of pushiness might be no bad thing. The list of sports players at the top of their game with their parents always in camera shot is long. Would those children have achieved their adult success without their dad taking control of the coaching? Who knows? Child starlets with pushy parents, however, seem to fair less well long term.
The other aspect of pushiness that I identified as a child is the parent who brags about their child’s achievements. There is nothing wrong with a bit of pride for your off spring amongst friends, as my facebook page will pay testament to. What is more difficult for me are parents who have to relate everything back to the achievements of their children. As the conversation ambles about touching on various subjects, you can see them almost bursting with their need to bring matters round to their child and how wonderful they are without even feigned interest in anyone else’s.
This was something my parents never did, much to the disgust of my brother and me. So concerned were they about not appearing pushy, that they totally failed to ever even mention our successes, let alone kill the fatted calf.
I think ultimately whether someone is a pushy parent depends upon their attitude. Doing lots of extra curricular activities wouldn’t constitute pushy unless the child was begging for it to stop. If the child enjoys what they do then I see no harm. After all, having accomplishments is something that people have strived for ever since leisure time was conceived.
However, living through your child and boasting unrestrainedly about what they have done suggests a lack of self worth on the part of the parent and in time may lead to similar feelings in the child who feels pressure to keep up with the parent’s aspirations for them.
I don’t consider myself a pushy parent – does anybody? I am rightly proud of my children and will continue to encourage them down their chosen paths. And if, from time to time, my pride bubbles over and I share that with friends then you can see it as a backlash against my upbringing rather than a need to compare my child with anyone else’s. After all, we are all just doing the best job we can.