Why I’ll never be a pushy parent!

Pushy parents are blatantly obvious to the trained eye.

They’re usually the ones cursing at the sideline of sports games or keeping a watchful eye during dance class to make sure their five-year-old isn’t having any fun!

Every race must be won, laughter means they’re not trying hard enough and heaven forbid their six-year-old does an ankle and can’t compete at the gym carnival.

Parents that force their young kids to compete in sports, perform in violin concerts or walk the tight rope are quite frankly a bunch of selfish gits trying to vicariously live through their children.

Remember what happened to pianist David Helfgott?

Remember what happened to world-famous Australian pianist David Helfgott after the immense pressure his dad put on him? Image

Supposedly there’s a bunch of grown ups out there that see their children as extensions of themselves rather than as separate people with their own hopes and desires.

I’d love to give them kick in the head.

Not surprisingly there’s research to prove that many of the parents who go to great lengths to make their kids succeed are attempting to make up for their own failed dreams!

Cue the tragic mums that dress up their little girls and make them enter beauty pageants!

These selfish parents appear to have little concern for the well-being of their precious cherubs when they give them spray tans, dress them up like trash bags and give them botox.

I don’t buy the spiel that these toddlers enjoy prancing around in high heels while their fugly mums prepare them for the catwalk.

They don’t do it for the money, they want their girls to shine because they failed miserably in life and now sit on the sidelines stuffing their faces with Twinkies hoping to get redemption through their children.


Even a Lalaloopsy doll shoved in her face isn’t making this poor toddler like what’s happening to her! Image

When my daughter started school she begged me to sign her up for anything and everything.

She took a crack at gymnastics, little athletics (never again) physical culture and soccer – she also had a trial of jazz, cheer leading and juggling!

I’m just pulling yah tits about the juggling.

At the moment she does nothing but play like a little girl should. She appears to be deliriously happy and blissfully unaware of the fiercely competitive world happening around her.

I’m actually quite happy because you’re only a carefree kid for a few years and there’s plenty of time for competitiveness and all the ugly that goes with it down the track.

For a while there I got the guilts thinking that she should be doing ‘something’ – thankfully it only lasted 10 minutes and then I slapped myself silly remembering that she is just SIX YEARS OLD!

There is not one single ounce of me that wants her to become a superstar in any areas that I failed, if I did then she’d be signed up for almost everything, except debating, how to be smart arse and drinking 101!

When she’s older, wiser and aware of the work involved with extra curriculum activities I will support her in whatever endeavour she chooses.

As long as it’s not juggling!

Got a few pushy parents in your circle of friends? Do you rein in your competitiveness for the sake of your young kids?

Can you juggle?

Joining in with Jess over at Essentially Jess for IBOT


  1. Juggling is not my forte. I want my daughter to experience a variety of ways to express herself, but I DON’T want to push her to do something she doesn’t like. I think it’s important to have something you like to do just for the fun of it and get involved. When it becomes unfun or uninteresting to her we’ll just move onto something else or take a break. Some mom’s are crazy and so blinded by what they want for their children and forget that it’s about their child. Do you think they make a pill for that?

  2. When I was at school a girl in the grade below me had a pushy parent. He was banned from several sporting events she competed at because he would pace up and down the sidelines screaming obscenities at her. I just don’t understand what drives these people..I mean surely they don’t feel good about what they’re doing.

  3. I totally agree. This is why my kids do zero extra curricular activities at this stage. They are 5 & 7 and need to be out using their imagination, playing & being kids.

  4. I can easily juggle two balls. It’s when a third gets involved that I have problems.

    But isn’t that just life

  5. I can’t juggle… only with two balls like Mark. As for the pushy parent thing I don’t want to be one but I wonder if the federal budget changes will stop parents from being pushy because they won’t be able to afford extra curricular activities for their kids to get involved in. It will be interesting to see.

  6. I can juggle…of course.

  7. I am not competitive and married a non competitive lol. The activities our kids have done over the years include dance (moved from highly competitive school tat made my daughter cry at 6 – insanity, nt even from the parents! Most kids have no plans to be professional dancers! We finally found a relaxed and encouraging dance school), art, music, gymnastics and baseball). At baseball I got to see the best and worst. Our coach was a young guy with no kids who is the nicest coach imaginable (half our team was on the autism spectrum so imagine how patient he had to be as sometimes a kid would be playing with the sand and other times he was dealing with aggression) we played some teams tat had multiple coaches! Yelling from the sidelines! Poor sportsmanship from coaches! And the vibe at those games sucked for all involved.

    I say do activities for the pleasure and experience! Winning or success as kids is a bonus.

  8. I’m allergic to pushy parents. I do not care to be associated with any. It’s terribly unfair on kids. It steals the fun of their kidhood.

    And I don’t even juggle. What a bag of laughs I am?

  9. Our kids are all already uniquely awesome without us needing to scream it into them. While Raffles does do a few extra curricular activities (guitar and kung-fu), these are his choices. He has been told (repeatedly, because I can’t afford them) that if he ever wants to stop he just has to say the word. Sadly for my wallet his enthusiasm is not waning. So he has my support. As for pushing him? I just want him to have fun and do what he wants to do. He’s not for following the crowds or being competitive and neither am I. He did try soccer once (after his friends pushed him to come along) and after suggesting it would be better if everyone just had their own ball, he stopped in the the pitch to do a pirouette and declare “mama, I just want to dance”. I applauded him and let him dance. The soccer mums were horrified. They asked me if I was embarrassed. I told them only by their small-mindedness.

  10. merilyn says:

    good post em … as usual
    I can’t juggle anything … leave alone balls!
    I’m not competitive by nature, but this world is fiercely competitive.
    it is projection of their own stuff … parents pushing their children into
    ridiculous activities some being close to child abuse really! …
    allow children to play creatively I say and it would be a better world! cheers lovely … m:)X

  11. Actually I really like that classes that don’t allow parents to sit in and watch… I’m ok to just drop-off and get some me-time / run errands!! 😛

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

  12. I can not juggle so i think the best bet is to force my four year old into juggling classes 😀

  13. I know I’m new to this whole parenting lark, but it’s amazing how early the competitiveness starts. There was a woman in our mums group who insisted her little boy was way ahead of the rest of the kids in terms of development (he wasn’t). I think sometimes it’s anxiety and insecurity that drives it. I don’t think I could be a pushy parent. I’ll probably let him do whatever he likes!

  14. You are so funny! “I’m just pulling yah tits about the juggling.” Hahaha!

  15. Our kids do a few activities, but we never push them. We are open to them trying what they are interested in and if they don’t enjoy it, at any stage, they can stop. Last year Miss 7 quit ballet and now this year she is back at it loving it even more than ever. And yes I have seen a few pushy mums and it just makes me feel so sad for the kids. And, no I can’t juggle for crap!

  16. You’ve hit the nail of the head, Em, some parents push their kids because they live vicariously through their children’s achievements and basking in reflected glory. I see it all the time, especially at report time and teacher/parent interviews.

    Having had a mother who put me into EVERYTHING, I’ve been quite laid back about my own kids’ activities – offering them but never insisting.

    But sometimes I think I’d too nonchalant…Poppet’s big dance concert is coming up soon and I suspect I’ll be the only parent looking at her watch. 😉

  17. We recently just had a conversation about whether MJ be doing some sort of structured class, and then we also realised he doesn’t need it at four, it was just the pressure we were feeling from other people doing it.

  18. Em I could write a whole topic on this but won’t incase someone I know ever reads my blog. I have a problem with 6 year old girls dressed up for dancing concerts plastered with make up and in skimpy costumes posing in pictures. I also have a major problem with small children and dancing routines that strippers would be proud of.
    My 5 year old is loving soccer this year, his first team sport (we have always done swimming lessons). There is a sign which I must remember to take a pic of with the rules for parents. I was in shock when I saw it.
    One of my friends pulled her son out of footy as she was sick of the parents yelling stuff like f##king get him”etc.

  19. My three older kids all do one activity each.
    I never did any of them so I can’t say that I failed at them and that’s why I’m pushing the kids. 😉
    Seriously though, kids need to be kids. Adults need to be adults. If we could separate those two things nicely, we would save everyone a lot of angst.

  20. or the drums!! God I so hope my Josh gets that idea out of his head soon!!!

  21. AMEN!! The world needs more slacker parents like me, who are far too lazy to live vicariously through their children because it means chauffeuring them from one boring activity to the next.

  22. There are a couple in my oldest’s netball team. Drives me batty, FFS they’re 11! My dad tended towards being pushy (still does) and I’ve never forgotten how it made me feel as a kid so I am very conscious of being less pushy with my kids.

  23. I’m a big believer in under committing when it comes to kids and activities. I honestly think our kids need to learn to deal with boredom and entertain themselves. Due to time and sometimes finances, we have always had a one extra activity only on weekends (if that) rule. At the moment it is netball.

    I do worry if down the track, they will be disappointed they didn’t do more but for the moment it seems to be working with helping to keep the balance.

  24. Thanks for your article and insight Em. Our grown up children didn’t do any other activities but now our grandchildren do swimming and football…after they have done this sport or even on a sports day of running round I can see that their faces are so refreshed and all worries gone. They’ve had fun and excercise and fresh air.
    Alexa from Sydney, Australia

  25. Bearhands used to coach an Under 7s footy team. One dad would write himself off and shout awful things at his son – it was appalling!
    The only extra-curricular activity we do in Casa de Cooker is swimming. That’s enough for us.

  26. I’m going to have to boast that I can actually juggle – a guy from school taught me this ‘life skill’ while I we were supposed to be studying – juggling balls, not any other kind in case you were thinking! Little Yang at 4 does one swimming lesson a week – we will probably start him in martial arts half-way through prep year when he’s 5 1/2 because he’s going to be small and I reckon it helps with confidence to stand up for yourself, not to mention discipline. Miss Yin does dance as you know, and lots of it, but she is almost 11 and loves it. Other than that she does a weekly Chinese lesson, which she doesn’t really like that much but we are holding firm with that for a while. I am a proud Mum, but in now way a ‘Dance Mom’.

  27. I totally hated extra curricular activities at school. They forced us to do a sport each term and then at highschool we had to do 4 activities a semester. Blergh I hate sports – probably the fact I have really bad asthma doesn’t help. The only one I ever liked was hockey, maybe because I got to accidentally whack people with a stick.

    And there is just soooo much wrong with kids beauty pageants!

  28. I love your attitude!!! At school you often see kids who are so stressed because there is so much pressure on them to do well at everything!!! I think kids find there own way! Your kids will be so happy and well adjusted having you as their mum! xx

  29. The whole pushy parent gig can really start young. I was lucky that the Mothers’s Group I was a part of (and am very good friends with many of the ladies now) was pretty relaxed, but I have heard some horror stories of kids as young as 18mths being signed up for dancing lessons, gymnastics etc and they just end up spending the whole class screaming. Admittedly both of our boys do have swimming lessons and they are only 2 1/2 and 13mths (almost), but we look at that as being more of a safety issue as we have a pool.
    As usual great post…. I’d like to see you juggle some balls on Sunday 🙂

  30. We wanted to give our kids the opportunities we never had, so they had a crack at piano, guitar, volleyball, soccer, basketball, skipping, swimming and a few other things over the years. Didn’t really take to any of them though!

    What I hated was the mega-competitive parents. It didn’t matter what your own kids did, theirs did it earlier, faster, twice as well, better … blah blah blah …

    Visiting today from #teamIBOT lovely! xxx

  31. You see them all the time at kids sport, the ones arguing with the ref and giving their kid a pep talk worthy of the world cup. The worst is when you hear parents paying their kids for goals. That kind of freaks me out xx

  32. Mate, I am so with you on this one! And while I can’t officially juggle, I am VERY skilled at holding several wine glasses and/or shopping bags at once, which is kind of like juggling but without the face paint x

  33. I tried everything under the sun when I was younger, little athletics, physical culture, swimming to name a few. My parents were nothing but supportive. I was only finally happy when I found the dance school I loved, and in the end that is all parents want is for their kids to smile. That is all I want for mine.

    Even though I am bloody competitive myself and hate losing I could never be a parent shouting expletives from the sideline. Too much pressure to put on the little ones. 🙁

  34. I will never forget a little girl who I used to do dancing with as a kid. She had one of those mums. She was always there complaining if her daughter was not in the front row and being hard on her if she didn’t think she was trying hard enough. I find it interesting that I still remember it. It must have had a big impact on me. Funnily enough, that girl is quite a well known dancer now. Anyway, I certainly will not be pushing my kids into anything. My eldest does ballet and tap because she loves it. As soon as she stops enjoying it, I will pull her out.

  35. Perhaps one of my fave posts of yours Em. Pushy parenting is selfish and heartbreaking. I tell my kids that there are only 2 objectives, try your best and enjoy yourself. I believe that they should be putting in effort, but that effort is for them and no one else. Not to win or to be the best, but to be THEIR best version. The more I type… the more I consider that I might… in fact… be a pushy parent…
    Please kick me in the head?

  36. Amen! All those pushy parents making us regular moms look bad LMAO. We’re struggling with just reg school. and by the time my kids get home they are tired. How much more if we add juggling to that!

  37. Someone accused me of being a pushy parent recently. Actually, the words she used were “over bearing”. Apparently it is because I am supporting my daughter’s modelling career. The person who accused me doesn’t even know me, or my daughter, but made the assumption that because I was a “mumager” to my teen daughter that I must be pushing her into this horrid field. If she knew us she’d know that my daughter is driving this thing all the way and I was simply supporting her and “managing” it all to keep her safe in an industry renowned for “danger”.
    I have always stood a long way away from the pushy parents on the sidelines. I hate being in that zone.
    It was a real shock to be accused of being one of them …
    It definitely made me reassess and reflect.
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

  38. I used to go to watch my niece in all of her ballet eisteddfods (many each year) and now she’s also into beauty pageants I’ve been to a few of those as well.

    On the ballet front I used to love that one of the best dancers in her age group was from the only mother who didn’t wear jeans and heels with perfect hair. In fact, her mother was minimally interested in the whole thing. Obviously she was there to do music and stuff but seemed incredibly indifferent!

  39. I am so with you about the fact that our children have years ahead of them to deal with the uglies of competitiveness. Why expose them to it now?
    It always intrigued me when parents were so full on about getting their children to swim (and also like it) from 6 months or younger. The whole ambition to ensure that they’re children are “water babies”.
    Seriously. If they don’t like the water, they don’t like the water! Why risk having them hate something down the track! Especially when it’s something that could be life-saving.

  40. Big YAY to this one Em!! Bell’s had a go at a few things over the years, ballet, piano, guitar, and now tennis. As soon as she doesn’t have fun any more, it’s done. There’s no point pushing them when they’re not enjoying themselves.
    We got out of ballet when it got too full on. Some of those mums were scary! Bell was just happy to dance around, pretending she was a real ballerina, but they were right into the whole “scene”. No thanks.
    Those revolting beauty pageants make me squirm.

  41. I’m not really competitive. I never did anything much outside of school except that one dance class and learning violin for a year until I would no longer practice because my teacher told me how good I was and so I thought I didn’t need to.
    Currently, Ellie doesn’t do any extra curricular activities, she keep dropping hints about gymnastics but I’ve heard the guy here can be hard on the kids because he’s an ex-Olympian or something and I’m not sure about it all. Kahlei does dance by choice.
    My only thing is that if they sign up for the term/show/whatever then they have to see it through.

  42. I also don’t believe these kids want to be dressed up and paraded around.

    I am too lazy to be pushy! Just let them be

  43. I don’t believe I can be either that type of people either. I’m currently often the odd one out among in my circle of friends… most of them have already got their babies on waiting lists for private kindergardens up to high schools or invested in property to be near the good schools… I’m just happy to go with the public primary school in our neighbourhood for now and haven’t even got round to thinking about high school, let alone all those extra curricular activities.

  44. “I think we’ve got the added thing nowadays where we are spoon-fed in the magazines and on television that success is really the only thing that really, really matters. Success and money. And I think that’s as dangerous as a pushy mother.


  1. […] Lily got older, I came to learn how insidiously contagious pushy parenting […]

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