March 22, 2017

With Mother’s Day approaching, it’s got me thinking about what type of mother I am? I suspect that I have become quite the opposite of my own, but maybe many of us do. My own mother was laid back and didn’t particularly interfere with my homework or regime. So long as I was well-behaved, polite and ate my greens I was left pretty much to my own devices.

My own children aren’t allowed that ‘privilege’! I like to know where their schoolwork is up to; I want to meet their friends and I want to help them plan their paths through life.

Maybe I’m too pushy. Maybe I should try and take the back seat a little? The difficult thing about being a mum is that you don’t know whether you’ve done a good job till it’s too late to change it.

Many of my friends children are about to sit their SATs examinations. They are all taking different approaches to their learning. I remember when my eldest was approaching his…….

”Come on” I would encourage, ‘one more practice paper”. Son number one would screw his small, freckly face up in disagreement but I would ignore his response and set about choosing another batch of maths questions.

When his SATs examinations were only a few weeks off, just like I do with all the other milestones in either of my children’s lives; I desperately pushed him to do his very best. I was sitting down with him for at least half an hour at a time most evenings, determined that he would be prepared for the tests when the time arrived.

I have always pushed my children. I know that many other parents will disagree with this type of parenting. They will be of the opinion that an 11 year old should have been playing, not focusing on up and coming tests. And I know that many professionals may argue that I might have been causing my child unnecessary stress or anxiety but I just didn’t see it that way.

If showing a keen interest in my children’s life, interests and achievements labels me a pushy parent then I’ll take the title with pride.

I don’t want either of my children to be ‘better’ than any others, and it’s not about them being ‘top of the class’. It’s about teaching them both to prepare, and teaching them that as long as they try hard, and know that they have done their very best; then their best will always be good enough. As Benjamin Franklin once notably said; by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’

I’m not really bothered whether either of my children becomes a top earner or a low earner, as long as they are happy. But I am bothered if they end up with a career and a life that leaves them unfulfilled just because they never tried hard enough or pushed themselves. I want my children to grow up proud of their achievements and I consider it my job as a parent to teach them to apply themselves and to persevere with something, even if it’s hard, if the end result is important.

Pushy parents have a bad reputation. They are portrayed as selfish and harsh. It has frequently been suggested in the media that they are parents who are haunted by their own childhood failures, and that they are the ‘bane’ of teacher’s lives. But not every pushy parent is cudgelling their child into high achievement and not every pushy parent is attempting to use their children’s lives to correct their own.

The sense of pride I have when one of my children completes an interesting ‘project’ or in the case of my eldest; talks live on the radio with confidence, isn’t born from any personal want of becoming a project developer or radio presenter. I’m just pleased for them – pleased that they are confident and outgoing enough to stand up and talk about their interests. If encouraging them to practice what they are going to say and rehearsing it with them repeatedly until they are positive, interesting and articulate is being pushy, then so be it. I actually believe that I am just helping them to be well prepared.

In my opinion, every parent should be encouraged to be pushy. Parents have every right to place a high worth on their child’s education and interests. However brilliant a school or club is, it is focusing on the children as a mass collection; we, as parents are interested in the children as individuals and it is our job to help each individual to achieve their personal potential.

If one of my children is finding something difficult then I consider it my duty to do something about it; go and talk to the school or club; assist with extra work or practice or perhaps most importantly, encourage him not to give up. Isn’t this a lesson that once taught and understood will benefit a child throughout his or her life?

Thankfully, both of my sons have now done their SATs. I remember how they both would set off to school in the morning slightly nervous but each night, they would return pleased. They were happy that they’d done their best and even though there were a few questions that they might have struggled with, over all there was high spirits.

Neither came top of the class or achieved the extraordinary, but I truly believe that they both tried their very best. And that makes me extremely proud.

On the Thursday evening, after number one sons last SATs test, I treated him and son number two to a celebratory meal out.

”Thanks mum”, son number one said as we left the restaurant. ”Not just for tea” he added ”thanks for helping me”.

And that is why I will continue to be ‘Pushy, but Proud’ – in my opinion, my children deserve nothing less.