Someone suggested that I was a pushy parent last week. It grated. I have never considered myself in those terms. However, the suggestion did give rise to some musing on the point. I’ve been wondering what I see as pushy, how I believe I differ from that description and what those around me might think ( although I have to confess to being relatively unconcerned about the latter.)
When we were children, my brother and I had pretty strong ideas about what constituted a pushy parent. Our parents did not come close and, with the security that that knowledge provided, we mocked mercilessly those that we thought did fit the bill. Certain of our friends’ parents were to be avoided at all costs and we took a kind of pride in keeping our own achievements well under our bushels, proof positive, we believed, that we were not the product of a pushy environment.
When my children were babies, I was very aware that it was a thin line that I walked. How easy it would be to tip over into being something that I had mocked. In groups of women, their names now lost in the mists of time, I soon discovered that no one really listened to what was said about a child that was not their own. They were simply waiting for a gap in the conversation where they could insert some other amazing detail of their own offspring’s development. I missed proper conversation. I went back to work.
At school it was the same. Mothers telling me loudly and often about how far up the reading tree they were. Entries for school competitions which had the tell tale signs of an adult’s hand. Parents whose path to the Head’s office was so well worn that they could walk it with their eyes closed. That was not and still is not me.
So why might I be perceived as pushy I thought. Well, my children are busy. Perhaps that’s it? Maybe busy children can be equated with the style of parenting that allows for no gaps in the schedule lest boredom creep in. But our busyness is organic. The children’s enthusiasm, joie de vivre and, dare I say without sounding pushy, talent has filled their every spare moment. In many ways it would suit me if they didn’t show such vigour and we had some more downtime but I see my role as a mother to facilitate their desires as long as it is prudent to do so.
I suspect the downfall of my reputation as a non pushy parent has been facebook. It is the perfect platform to show how proud I am of my children’s achievements (although, ever conscious of reaction because part of me does care what people think, I keep a lot of their successes back.) This may be seen as boasting, something my brother and I ridiculed but I believe hard work should be rewarded with praise and I am always pleased to see the achievements of other people’s children trumpeted in a similar manner.
At the end of the day, we are all doing our best to bring up our children. I hope that I am helping my four to grow into rounded, confident and happy adults by supporting and encouraging them and providing advice and guidance when they reach a crossroad. If this is pushy then bring it on. I happen to think it’s what parenting is all about but none of us will really know how we’ve done until they are grown and by then it will be too late!