Think before you judge the competitive mum!

We all hate competitive mums, don’t we? I posted about them at gymnastics a while back (Competitive mums and their offspring) and today I read a fab post by Molly on In The Powder Room. It’s a topic that parents are usually quite decided about and in my comments to Molly, I advised her that it only gets worse. What starts as mild envy that so and so’s baby can sleep through the night or go down awake etc, turns into full blown jealousy that so and so’s precious offspring then goes on to achieve all A* in her A-Levels and will marry into aristocracy, ensuring her parents live the life of Riley… or something like that.

In essence, pushy/ competitive mums are so hated because we can all pretty much relate to them. You may not want to admit it but you secretly want your child to be the best at reading/ writing/ football. You want your reproduced genes to be up to something, dammit! It’s only natural. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a trait you deplore in yourself.

There is a mum at gymnastics who sits on the bench and never takes her eye off her daughter for the whole lesson. Nothing wrong with that. After all we’re there to spectate, so let’s spectate! But she doesn’t just sit there. She’s like a female Fergie (probably liable to a bit of hair-dryer treatment after class too). She seethes each time her (four year old) daughter wobbles whilst kartwheeling. She thumps her own legs in frustration when roly-polys aren’t forthcoming and she grips the sides of the bench when straddle position looks like her daughter needs the loo.

It’s not long before the hissing begins. Then comes the forced whispers, loud enough to sink ships. Then she gets up and prowls the mats, barking instructions and offering advice to her daughter. Her daughter laughs and carries on being four, thankfully.

Today, I found myself sitting beside this woman and we began to chat. Her story has actually made me think about pushy mums and their reasons for being so. This woman was a semi-professional gymnast at the age of fourteen. She had been handpicked for the British team. Then she injured her knee and was unable to practise for two months. When she recovered, she was told that she should not take up her beloved gymnastics again, otherwise she could end up crippled for life, or something to that effect. She ignored advice- she was fourteen!- and ended up on crutches for eighteen months. Suffice to say, she now lives out her gymnastic dreams through her four year old daughter.

Who can really blame her? Yes, being pushy is annoying but she has a personal reason why she wants her daughter to do well. Also, we can judge her all we like for trying to live her life through her daughter, but isn’t that what we all do, to some extent? We want our children to do the best, be the best, try their best. Some of us sit on our hands, some of us use them to gesture rudely. Whatever way we do it, we want our children to do well. Admit it. You do too.


3 responses to “Think before you judge the competitive mum!

  • Vivien Sabel

    This is a very complex subject. The concept of pushiness is so very multi-layered. Yes it begins with parents but it may well have started with grandparents or even great-grandparents. It may well be associated with prior success or prior failure. It often relates to issues of self-esteem and self-confidence. These are issues in parents that are often ‘handed down’ to their children.

    Ideally we want to allow our children to find what they are interested in for themselves possibly through a process of trial and error. My little B (aged 3) chose to attend ballet. After a little while the teacher said to us B had “good feet” and that we should consider enrolling her in a specific ballet school. We discussed this with B and she said she didn’t really like ballet too much. So as soon as she said this we supported her to hang up her ballet shoes aged 4. We all felt happy about this. This made B feel good and as a result this made us feel good.

    On the other hand when she was 2 years old she said she wanted to be a Bollywood dancer. We looked until we found a class (approximately 1 hour away from home) and she began at age 3. B is now 6 and last year she won the local Bollywood Championships. We ask her regularly if she is still enjoying her Bollywood and she says she still ‘loves it’. The minute she doesn’t we will support her to end her classes. I believe if you support your children to have their opinion and support them to make their own choices they will decide well. I want our child to feel like she is leading in her choice. She can decide and I place trust and faith in her to do so.

    As a Psychotherapist I occasionally meet with clients who are ‘victims’ of their parents desires and pushiness; from a clinical perspective this has often left these now grown children feeling like they ‘are not good enough’. Unpacking this with clients has made me more aware of how this potentially impacts negatively.

    Thanks for listening to my rather long response! I hope you have found this useful. Warmest Vivien

    • ghostwritermummy

      Wow! Thanks for your comment! my daughter has been doing gymnastics for a while now. Having always been actve, we too took her to ballet when she was three but she soon told us she didn’t like it and was bored. We tried gymnastics which she loved but after a year said she didn’t want to do it anymore. Then a year later, she changed her mind! I totally agree that you can’t choose your child’s passions for them. She is just like me and would much rather read a book than anything else. The minute she says no more then that will be it. BUT I do understand where these mums come from, to some extent.

  • TheBoyandMe

    In my opinion you’re right to a certain extent, as long as it doesn’t infringe of the happiness and well-being of the child. I’d say then I object, but even then it’s still not my place to judge. How different is judging that mum above to judging the mother in the supermarket and her child who is having a temper tantrum? Until you’ve been there it’s easy to pass an opinion.

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