Last week, I went to hear one of my favourite authors speak at the Sydney Opera HouseAlexander McCall Smith has written gazillions of novels, (he’s best known for the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series) but in his 44 Scotland Street series, there’s a character called Bertie, a 6 year-old-boy who lives in Edinburgh with his extremely pushy mother, who drags him around to yoga and Spanish classes and saxophone lessons.  Anyway, at this talk Alexander McCall Smith had everyone rolling in the aisles as he told anecdotes about Edinburgh’s notorious pushy Mums.  But after I stopped laughing I suddenly thought:  Hang on, am I a Pushy Parent?

I don’t have Birdy learning the saxophone or doing baby pilates, but we’ve been doing swimming lessons, we’re starting dancing next week and I’m thinking about a pre-school piano class for next term!  But it’s not because I want my daughter to be the best at everything.  It’s just something to fill up the hours because it’s so difficult to keep a pre-schooler busy and entertained day in, day out.  I have lots of friends that take their little ones to classes like Gymbaroo – not because they’re trying to prepare their toddler for Olympic Gold – but just because it’s a nice sociable outing that doesn’t take too much effort!

So what’s the real definition of a Pushy Parent? Here’s my top five signs that you might be a Pushy Parent:

–       If your child speaks more than three languages in pre-school

–       If they’re reading chapter length books before they even start school

–       If they’re learning more than one musical instrument or three kinds of dancing

–       If you’ve entered them in a pageant of any kind before they’re five

–       If you actually start expecting them to win stuff – whether it’s sports, academic prizes or beauty pageants

Any of these could be signs that you’re turning into a Pushy Parent – either that or you just have the most gifted and talented child on the planet!  But on a serious note, kids do need lots of free time to develop skills in imaginative play.  So the child that is over-committed will actually be missing out developmentally on a crucial part of their childhood.  But more on that another week…

Do you suspect that you might be a pushy parent?  Or did you have a pushy parent yourself?  If so, did it do you good, or would you have liked a more relaxed attitude?  Is a little bit of pushing a good thing?

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