Why I'll Never be a Pushy Parent

I’ve never liked pushy parents. Growing up I observed them and felt relief I wasn’t under their watchful eyes, at baby groups I drank tea with them and we both suffered a disjointed conversation, now I observe them from a distance and my heart literally hurts from seeing them push, push, push their kids.
I know not everyone will agree with me, and that is the true beauty of this world, right? Difference of opinion. I’m not looking for an argument, but I do feel passionately about one thing…
Pushy parenting breeds contempt. It destroys joy and laughter, it breeds a competitiveness, and it grows and festers and causes people to feel inadequate…
I’m not saying that the opposite kind of parenting works, I had this kind. I love my parents, I really do. My Dad was fab, even if he spent a lot of his time at work or in the pub. As I hit 20’s we developed a great relationship and he became the person I always turned to in a crisis. A cup of tea, an understanding word, a cuddle or two and my problems felt like bubbles floating away. My mother, a ‘too nice’ parent, always let me off from classes, activities, parties, play dates and perhaps this caused me to be quite introverted (I know!) and every school report was fuelled by an overwhelming feeling that I was too quiet (I know!).
I suppose my point is that a bit of balance is required here. I’m not perfect. I can raise my voice some days (mostly when I’m due on my period or there’s an event I’m in charge of or I’ve had a disagreement with a mate), I can say the wrong thing, I can be impatient or flustered, frustrated or tired. We are only human, after all. BUT when we veer into a strong position of parenting, when we constantly zap the fun out of something then I truly do not believe this is effective or helpful parenting.
I believe support and encouragement is completely different to pushy parenting. And it’s far more effective. Our kids have had times when they’ve hated something, it’s brought them to tears and for this reason, I’ve removed them from the situation. That’s my job, right?
I don’t feel that pushing my kids actually gets anyone anywhere. I had the exact opposite as a kid, anything I did was great, and if I didn’t want to do anything then that was fine too. I think I’m a ‘somewhere in the middle’ parent, I don’t push and I don’t flake. This prevents gymnastics for example, from becoming the worst part of our week. I don’t say, ‘You must go and be x, y and z and then we’ll do this and this and take it seriously, stop moaning, show me your pike rararara!’ I also don’t say, ‘Okay, you’re not in the mood, let’s not bother…’
Instead we talk about gym after the class, we encourage Molly (if she WANTS to) to show us what she’s learnt, George even gets involved by going to her class and supporting her. We listen, when she interrupts a crappy dinner conversation to tell us about her gymnastics class, we stop and we listen. We support her giving it importance in our life.
The same goes for George. For him, I’ll use the example of writing. When we took him out of school he hated the thought of writing, it was ‘work’ and he never got a break from ‘work’ in school. He was sick of paper and pens. So after his withdrawal (he spent a week filling out worksheets as he’d been trained to do) we did things differently. He wanted to paint again, to draw, to go on adventures. These creative elements had stopped whilst he’d been in school so it was wonderful to see them come back. Recently however, he’s had a thing for notebooks. A few weeks ago he wrote a chapter book inside one of his note books, it had over 10 pages and had pictures with it. This week he made a pop up book about a volcano. We applauded him, we encouraged him, but not once did we force him. The tools were there, we discussed pop up books and even though we needed to do other things, we made time to do something he was passionate about. In fact he did it all by himself.
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My point is, let’s bring the joy back into our children’s lives. Let’s stop pushing and prodding and feeling this overwhelming pressure that our kids should all be amazing at everything, it isn’t realistic. Let them tell you what they love, let them direct their lives, because deep down we all know how short life is. If you look back on your childhood and think about what you loved, was it paper work preparing you for adulthood or was it doing something you love?
Remember, we only get one shot at this… make it a good life, for you and especially for them.


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