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To ask whether girls are under more pressure to perform in extra curricular activities than boys?

(10 Posts)
messalina Wed 12-Feb-14 01:37:21

A genuinely interested question, and I am not a journalist, I promise! Since my daughter has started primary school at a girls' school, I have become aware of parental ambition in a way I had not been before. There is, inevitably, the focus on academic progress but actually what I have been more aware of (and this has surprised me) is the pressure for daughters to perform at a high level in the extra-curricular sphere. To start an instrument at a very early age, to start club swimming at a very young age. My daughter does three or four after school activities but at the moment I just regard these as fun. When I meet older school age girls I am aware of how many girls seem to be performing to a very high level at a young age in an extra curricular pursuit. Often this is when one parent does not work and has the time to devote to ferrying, supervising extra practices etc. Have not met many school age boys but do you think there is similar competition about their activities? Or is sport more likely to be seen as an opportunity to burn off the excess energy people always claim boys have? In other words are Tiger Mothers (or Fathers!) more likely to put pressure on their daughters to be all rounders (thus perhaps reinforcing that expectation for women to be good at everything) or is the pressure they put on their sons as intense? I am genuinely interested in people's views. This is keeping me awake at unearthly hours.

chocoluvva Wed 12-Feb-14 05:04:18

I think there are probably just as many boys being pushed to perform well in 'suitable' extra-curricular activities as girls.

But in households where the parents are more laid back I think that boys are more likely to be allowed to spend time on screens/with lego etc instead of doing structured activities than girls.

This might be rubbish - it's just the impression I've got of the families in my area now that you happen to mention it.

cory Wed 12-Feb-14 07:34:30

Sports tend to be very competitive and quite a few parents expect their sons to be into sports. Even if you're not a pushy parent, I find the selection and competition starts much earlier in sports than in traditional "girlie" pursuits: my son was never able to get into any football team at all, even at junior school, but the ballet school was very inclusive and would work with any child regardless of physical ability or special needs.

Musical instruments ime tend to be pretty unisex.

I think if you're a pushy parent you're a pushy parent, full stop. Or, to put a more positive slant on it, if you're an engaged and generous parent, anxious to provide your child with interesting experience, then that's who you are regardless of the sex of the child.

WooWooOwl Wed 12-Feb-14 08:07:33

No, I don't think more pressure is put on girls than boys to perform well on extra curricular activities. I only have boys so I can't compare from personal experience, but I can say that I think there is pressure on boys to do well both academically and in extra curricular activities.

I think school in general is more suited to a stereotypical girl than a stereotypical boy from my experience working in schools, and so while the pressure put on both is similar, girls are more likely to be successful.

There seem to more free after school clubs suited to girls than boys, as many of our local schools have teachers running knitting, sewing and craft clubs whereas all the football, judo, sporty type clubs that attract more boys than girls are run by external companies and therefore cost significantly more.

Sparklymommy Wed 12-Feb-14 08:54:15

I have two of each. I am sure I am seen as the "pushy" parent because all of my children are very involved in the performing arts.

I think this is an interesting question and one which I am sat here contemplating on my own experiences. Dd1 is 11. From a very young age she has performed in shows and dance festivals. She has worked hard on technique and performance and has had mixed successes.

Ds1 is 7. He started doing ballet before his second birthday (because we were "there anyway"). I didn't expect him to keep it going once he started preschool but he has and recently took part in his first pantomime. He had success earlier than his big sister at festivals, which I feel is really due more to the fact he is a boy than due to his technical strengths as comparing him to his sister at the same age he does not point his toes as much, he does have the best turnout, but he is focused and does work hard. He performs and genuinely looks like he wants to be on the stage and I do feel that as a boy in a heavily female activity he gets it easier.

Do I expect him to do as well as his sister? I expect all of my children to do their best. I don't think I put more pressure on my girls than my boys consciously but I do possibl expect more from them. Why this is I haven't a clue!

ProfPlumSpeaking Wed 12-Feb-14 08:57:25

IME there is a lot more emphasis put on boys to do sport. Schools spend a lot of assembly time announcing boys' sporting results. They often don't mention achievements in other spheres. This sets the tone. (Might just be independent sector)

Starballbunny Wed 12-Feb-14 09:18:43

Round here boys do team sport and get congratulated as teams and the girls individual things like ballet with exams or swimming with county times to brag about.

Ragwort Wed 12-Feb-14 09:26:06

I only have a son and I do spend time and energy encouraging him to do well at his chosen sport and driving him to practices/matches etc.

Why do I do it? I guess to keep him busy and away from screens and I think it is a 'good' thing to do - keeps him fit and healthy, learns to be part of team, gives him self confidence as he is clearly quite good at it boast.

I'm pretty confident that I would be the same if I had a DD but obviously I have no way of knowing confused. DS has started other interests, different sports, musical instrument etc but if he has no interest/inclination in those areas I haven't forced him to continue - except that I would always make him finish the actual term and tell the tutor himself why he was leaving. smile.

WilsonFrickett Wed 12-Feb-14 09:28:34

Move to central Scotland OP. No-one* cares about girls' activities, they're only interested in boys' football.

*No-one is a slight exaggeration. It just feels like that when you don't like football, DH doesn't like football and DS doesn't like football.

chocoluvva Wed 12-Feb-14 10:47:31

I know Wilson - almost everyone seems to be obsessed with football.

I think the 'typical' boy is more competitive than the 'typical' girl.

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