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competitive parents - what exactly does this mean?

(69 Posts)
lorna111 Wed 02-Apr-14 19:46:00

Just that really - it's probably a silly question but if a school is known for its competitive parents, what does this mean? It sounds awful and not my thing at all but I'm curious how what the parents are doing exactly to be competitive. Tutors for their kids every weekend? Ridiculously over the top homework done by dad?

tiggytape Wed 02-Apr-14 22:26:22

It tends to be parents who are more interested in how everyone else's child is getting on rather than how their own child is progressing. So if Sophie gets 15 spellings one week they want to know why their DC is only getting 10 and if Freddie is a free reader they want to know how many levels are left before their child is a free reader too etc.

It can also manifest itself in specialist tutors for very young children, ornate costumes on World Book Day and much angst about who gets chosen for school plays.

HercShipwright Wed 02-Apr-14 22:45:09

It's the sort of thing people say about schools their children didn't get into. It's rarely true.

Kenlee Thu 03-Apr-14 00:52:39

Hmmm I would say its parents who expect their children to be the top of everything. It requires the child to fore go their childhiod to fulfill the dreams of their parents. Therefore it means piano , art , swimming and dancing lessons as extras of course all courses will need to be accredited by certificate. Added to this will be extra Maths , English , Science and language tutorial. Not to mention the extra tutorials to do pass papers for memorization.

The most important part is dinner parties. Where one can boast what their child has achieved. To compare notes so you to can send your child through the same rigorous regime.

Not to forget getting yourself on the PTA so you have a say. So that the teachers are more afraid of your child than they are of them.

Hmm that is competitive parenting in a nutshell...

How to deal with them move to a school with excellent pastoral care. Then your child will want to do all these things because they want to not because you have force them to.

creamteas Thu 03-Apr-14 08:02:13

To me it is when children are viewed by their parents as a way to become better than others.

Competitive parents lie, move or get religion to get into 'better' schools.

They are coached by their parents either directly or indirectly (via tutors) and berated for coming second 'failing'.

Competitive parents take their own stop-watches to athletics or swimming training. They are obsessed with test results.

They also are rarely friends with other parents, they associate with people the 'best' people, to ensure that they know what is going on and that no one else has found an advantage they don't know.

meditrina Thu 03-Apr-14 08:06:01

It's an irregular verb: I just want the best for my kids; yours are over-scheduled and you do hover a bit; she's ridiculously competitive.

DeWe Thu 03-Apr-14 11:43:23

meditrina grin

Soveryupset Thu 03-Apr-14 12:15:04

Love meditrina's definition and totally agree with it.

I have found that every time my children have excelled at something, most people automatically assume I am a helicopter/competitive parent.

When they struggle they think I am a neglectful parent.

You just can't win..

MarianForrester Thu 03-Apr-14 12:24:53

"How's babyMarian getting on with piano/swimming/dancing ice skating, etc? My dc is on gold level now, competing in all of them at the weekend, just don't know how we're going to fit it all in......"

Child of such competitive parents when looking at my dcs posters on bedroom wall: "I just have watercolours and certificates on my wall"

tiggytape Thu 03-Apr-14 12:26:12

I just have watercolours and certificates on my wall

Did she also mention that it was a much bigger wall than yours too? Otherwise it doesn't count wink

happygardening Thu 03-Apr-14 13:01:51

I recommend life as a neglectful parent, no hovering, no hideous water colours or certificates on the walls (I loose those within 10 mins, or forget I ever had them), no comparing mine with anyone else, no flash cards (wince), no times tables to music (I'd rather boil my head) or a badly played violin (run for the hills). I don't clutch the most recent report at parent teacher meetings and make frantic notes on it because I usually can't find it or remember the bloody pass word to access it! I have been openly criticised by friends for not doing any of these things many times over the years but my DS's seem ok so for us it's just perfect.

Retropear Thu 03-Apr-14 13:43:40

Hmm there is a valance.

My dp is still bitter re how neglectful his parents were re his education.

I don't do competitive parenting but I'm a pushy parent.

Retropear Thu 03-Apr-14 13:43:57


happygardening Thu 03-Apr-14 13:53:49

My DP took 10 yrs to recover from my MIL's completely obsessive hovering and there relationship is permanently damaged by it, ditto my SIL. My parents never hovered and it's not done me any harm I learnt from an early age to work things out for myself.

frogs Thu 03-Apr-14 14:07:10

CErtainly with older children and teenagers competitive parents are the ones who want success for the child more than the child wants it. So they want their child to come top of the class regardless of the fact that said child is reasonably able but not a high-flier or particularly interested in academic work. Ditto for sporting activities, or musical instruments - at holiday music clubs you can spot the difference between the dc who are there because their parents have made them go, and those who are keen to go of their own accord because they enjoy the music and the social side of it.

It's also about whether the child's achievement is a subject for showing off. The parents I know whose dc are seriously successful at sport (ie. winning competitions at international level), or are so academically able that they're in a completely different league from their peers (doing universitly-level maths at 13) don't really talk about it except to close friends. They support the dc as much as possible, but otherwise leave the kids to do their own thing, so that the dc are self-motivated rather than doing things because they want to please their parents.

So I don't think competitiveness is really about how successful the child actually is, it's about how much the parent needs the child to be successful for their own gratification.

Biscuitorflake Thu 03-Apr-14 16:36:12

Happygardening, you sound a little competitive and gloaty about how uncompetitive you are!! grin

Xpatmama88 Thu 03-Apr-14 18:54:29

I think most of the so call competitive parents are actually taking an active role in parenting. Arranging after school actitives (music, sports, art) to broaden their minds, I don't see anything wrong with that, same as if they are a bit behind, help them with tutoring.

If you do it you're cursed for being competitive, if you just ingore them and let them sink, you are classified as poor parents. So you never win!

So, I'm the pushy and competitive mum, since both of mine got into top boarding school with many after school actitives and great academic achievement; at the same time I'm neglecting mum too, I'm miles away, certainly can't do much nagging.

And I have seen many teenagers are high achievers, and self motivated (very competitive ) if they set their targets, they will work hard to get that. At the end of the day, they are the one sitting the exams!

happygardening Thu 03-Apr-14 19:28:15

Biscuit I've won the gold medal at the recent slack parent Olympics, we were all late, many went to the wrong venue, had forgotten our team strips and had odd socks on, not one of us knew when school holidays started/ended and or when public exams started, no one had even heard of Kumon math let alone state where are nearest one was and as for supervising prep we were all hopeless. It was stiff competition and a joy to be with other like minded parents but still I won so yes I am "gloaty".

Xpatmama88 Thu 03-Apr-14 19:33:45

Happy, when the public exam starts? I don't know either!

happygardening Thu 03-Apr-14 22:30:08

Xpat I haven't the faintest idea. In my day we sat them after the May half term.

MrsC1966 Thu 03-Apr-14 22:35:19

It means that at least one kid will be sent to sports day in running studs when all the other kids are in plimsoles (yup, witnessed it)

Soveryupset Fri 04-Apr-14 08:36:28

I also do think that is very much a cultural thing here in the UK not to talk about your child's or even your own achievements.

Where I come from it is very normal to share news of your child having won a music competition or having excelled in a sport or maths, the same as it is quite normal to talk openly about money - how much you paid for your house, how much you earn, etc....

I think in the UK is a no-go on both fronts, people don't like boasting in general, it is seen as bad taste/bad manners even. It does take some getting used to.

Martorana Fri 04-Apr-14 08:43:09

I suppose the ultimate in non competitive parenting would be to send your child to boarding school- they you don't even know what they are doing so you can't be competitive about it! But I suppose that would be taking it a bit far.

I think it's a bit "I'm involved, you're competitive, she's pushy".............

S4Worries Fri 04-Apr-14 09:16:33

Sovery, very true. I find it a bit sad that I have to congratulate my friend about her successful child in embarrassed, hushed tones far from anyone else's ears! If we were in the States I could be enthusiastic! I even find myself adding stuff like "We know it's early days and not everyone makes it.." what a downer!

S4Worries Fri 04-Apr-14 09:18:31

Also I can't stand any carping about Judy Murray, but have had to put up with it on occasions!

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