12 signs you may be guilty of 'performance parenting'

mother children performance parenting

Never heard of 'performance parenting'? If any of these sounds familiar, then you might want to take a liiiitle step back.

You're familiar with 'The Look'

performance parenting the look

“At a school reading morning when DS1 was five, there was a line in his book that was something like 'Splish, splash, splosh.' I said to him, 'What sort of words are they?' He looked at me blankly. 'Remember,' I said, 'we talked about this. When words sound like their meaning. Ono… Onomato… Onomatopoe… Onomatopoei…a.' He sighed. 'Onomatopoeia.' 'Yes!' I exclaimed loudly. 'Well done! You know all about onomatopoeia!' I looked up to see every adult in the room looking at me, clearly thinking 'You massive fucking twat.'”

You say 'pah!' to the easy option

lord nelson performance parenting

“I was very excited when we got the first dressing up opportunity – fancy dress for Trafalgar Day. I went to town creating a Nelson costume for three-year-old DD including an ENORMOUS, black, historically accurate hat. It was so big that DD had to almost turn sideways to get through doorways. Got to playschool, and of course the rest of the kids were just dressed as Spiderman and Cinderella.”

You're always generous with your knowledge

skeleton performance parenting

“DD brought home a homework sheet on the skeletal system, where she had to label the main bones. I helped her to name around 180 bones on the sheet, then wrote a little note on the back letting the teacher know they were welcome to photocopy her work to share with the other children who wouldn't have done as much. They were seven-year-olds.”

You're keen to upgrade the classroom resources


“My main twattery was taking PFB to nursery with many bags of multicoloured homemade playdough for the class, because I wasn't happy about the quantity or colour selection they were getting.”

Museums are no-go areas

zoo performance parenting

“I took my DC to a zoological museum and when a random child said 'Ooh, monkey!' my DS replied 'It's actually a gibbon. Look – he doesn't have a tail, just like all the other apes and like us.' He was four. Random child's parents gave me the look of YOU TWAT.”

And so are zoos

fox performance parenting

“Walking round the zoo with three-year-old DS, we came across some lemurs: 'Oh look, DS1, here are the ring-tailed lemurs. Can you remember where they come from?' 'Madagascar.' 'Yes that's right, and what eats them?' 'The fossa.' 'And the scientific name?' 'Cryptoprocta ferox.'”

Your child is hip to the Verfremdungseffekt

acting performance parenting

“When DS1 was seven, his homework was to find out about theatres and to bring in a page or two of writing and pictures. I have a degree in Drama so I decided DS1 could focus it on Epic Theatre. He wrote about the Verfremdungseffekt, montage, breaking the fourth wall, the music and the political background. Later I discovered most of the children had just written a few sentences along the lines of 'In a theatre the audience watch the actors perform on a stage' and printed out photos of theatres from the internet.”

You relish costume days

boy in wig

“I dressed DS up as a bar magnet for Science Day and not as a mad scientist like every other child. He was annoyed at the end of the day because he couldn't play football in his costume.”

You insist on historical accuracy


“DD and DS came home asking who invented the telephone. DH and I gave a speech about how Antonio Meucci was the original inventor but couldn't afford the patent – so when Alexander Graham Bell invented a similar device, he was allowed to patent it and got the credit for inventing the telephone. DS said the teacher told him, 'Just tell your parents it was Alexander Graham Bell.'”

“I'm an archaeologist and take great umbrage at the liberal use of the word 'Celt'. Whenever DD had homework, I'd make her write Iron Age people instead – or if she had to say 'Celt' or 'Celtic' I made her put it in inverted commas.”

Your child has firm views

grumpy girl

“Overenthusiastic explanation of serious topics at home resulted in DD going into her reception class, looking somewhat dismissively at the royal wedding Will-and-Kate bunting around the school, and announcing to her teacher, 'Actually I'm a republican' – then adding for good measure '… and an atheist.'”

Your children try to thwart you


“I had a moment of twattery at the library when a radio reporter asked to interview seven-year-old DD2 about her favourite book. I swelled with pride, anticipating that she would speak with eloquence far beyond her years about the Stories from Shakespeare I'd insisted she read. Needless to say she informed the listeners that her favourite book was Sing a Song of Bottoms, which she proceeded to quote from at length.”

… and succeed

funny kid

“When DD1 was doing Show And Tell, we went to the park and collected different types of leaves and I taught her the names of the trees. Off she went to school with them in her tupperware box – or so I thought. She had actually emptied them out and replaced them with 'a bogey with a hair attached.'”