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The One Where I Get Cross About Overly Indulgent Parenting

Dear readers, this particular post is in grave danger of dissolving into an incoherent rant of epic proportions - hopefully I can hold it together long enough to put forward my argument in a sane and sensible way... Hold on to your hats, boys and girls.

Let's travel back in time a little. I am six years old. My Mum (at my insistence I might add) has signed me up for a ten week term of ballet classes. At first, I am overjoyed. I love ballet more than anything else in the world. I fully plan on being a ballet dancer one day.

And then, quite inexplicably, half way through the term I change my mind. No-one knows quite why. But I don't want to go any more. Cue stamping of feet, slamming of doors and much wailing. My Mum stands firm. She tells me that I have to go - I'm signed up for the full term, she's paid good money for it; and besides which she knows that I actually enjoy it.

Sulking, I go.

And she's right - I do enjoy it. I enjoy it so much, that at the end of the term I beg and plead her to sign me up for another term.

Fast forward to the present day. I'm chatting with a parent about how her little one is getting on. I mention that they've missed quite a few sessions - I enquire as to whether the child has been unwell. No, it seems the child has been in perfect health... It's just that sometimes, the child would rather watch TV than come along to class.

So their child says they would rather watch TV... and they just shrug their shoulders and let them.

I'm beginning to despair of a certain breed of parents.

Quite apart from the fact that their child can watch TV any time - do they really think that a sedentary activity like watching TV is going to benefit their child more than coming along to a class where they'll get some exercise, interact with other children - oh and have a good time?

With a wan smile from the parent I'm treated to a "Well, what can you do?"

What can they do? Here's a starter for ten:

They could start acting like a parent rather than a doormat. Rather than indulging their child's whim of the minute, they could put their foot down, explain that the TV will still be there when they get back - but right now they've a class to get to.

Thinking long term - they're only making a rod for their own backs. Are they always going to let their child decide what they will and won't do? Most of the time, children are simply not equipped to make those sort of decisions. Parents are surely the ones who are best equipped to decide.

This kind of overly indulgent behaviour can ultimately only do harm. To all such lily-livered parents, I say "For goodness sake, be a parent and take charge".

Otherwise they may find that the fruit of their loins is still slumped in front of the TV aged 30-something... because they've never really fancied work - and besides which they wouldn't want to miss any of the live feed of Big Brother 35 - the housemates are amazing this year.

Rant over... Goodness, that feels better.

Image credit.


Leave a comment

    From Lucy Quick
    Hi Anne-Marie,

    Thank you for taking the time to comment - great to hear that you can relate!
    From Anne-Marie Martin
    Hi Lucy

    Just browsing through the web and found this. as a fellow teacher I agree that style of parenting can be frustrating trying to explain that children go through phases and by giving in to their whines of I'd rather watch tv etc you're not teaching them commitment and seeing things through, or how not to give up as they are enjoyable. Great honest piece.
    From Lucy Quick
    Hi Jane,

    I'm not sure whether or not you need to be a parent in order to express a view about parenting. I'm not convinced that it makes an argument any more or less valid. However - just for the record, I am a parent too.

    I'm sorry if my post offended you. I do have some strong views, and of course not everyone is going to agree with me - frankly it would be a very dull world if everyone did :)

    Thank you for taking the time to comment, I do appreciate it.
    From Jane
    I am sorry, Lucy, but until you have a kid yourself you shouldn't criticise the way other people choose to bring up their children
    From Lucy Quick
    Hi Melody,

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. I do agree with you, it is important not to pile on the extra curricular activities; particularly if there is a concern that school work is suffering as a result.

    From time to time children do get over-tired and as you rightly point out something has to give; and in those instances it makes sense to drop an after school activity.

    The point I was trying to make was that I feel strongly that parents shouldn't behave in an overly indulgent way. As you say balance is key!
    From Melody
    Whilst I think the Perform classes are excellent (my daughter attended the Hampstead class when she was three), I feel there is another point here: many of us parents are guilty of signing our children up for too many extra-curricular activities. I sometimes wonder if this could be a form of child abuse...the school day is an intensely draining experience for them, especially for the four - five year olds in Reception, and the five - six year olds moving into Year One, where the pace of learning picks up considerably and the emphasis is no longer so much on play. By the end of each term my little girl (5), (and all of her 29 classmates) is exhausted! We have more melt-downs at the end of the day, more squabbling with her sibling, more tears. So very occasionally, when she stamps her foot, and uncharacteristically makes a fuss, and says she doesn't want to go to her after-school class, I listen to her. I get her home, sit with her and do homework if needed, give her a nourishing meal, and get her in bed really early so she isn't grumpy the next morning. Balance, as in everything, is the key!
    From Lucy Quick
    Hi Mummy Zen,

    Excellent point! Glad to hear common sense is prevailing :)
    From Mummy Zen
    That's a shocking excuse!! It's similar to school - some children say they don't want to go to school but once they are there, they really enjoy it. Parents wouldn't let them miss school because they'd rather watch TV (at least you'd hope not) so why should it be any different with classes?

    I quite agree with you. It's important for parents to assert their authority when required and not allow their children to make all the decisions.
    From Lucy Quick
    Hi Henrietta,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! (And what a fantastic comment it is - you've made my day!)

    I totally concur with:
    "Children are turning to be dictators rather than happy individuals"

    Like you, I think it's really not the way to go - it's bad news for everyone.

    I hope your daughter enjoys her trial class - if you've any thoughts or feedback do let me know.

    From henrietta
    Dear Lucy,

    I just signed my daughter up today for a free trial class in Muswell HIll and I went onto your website...I am so glad I did!

    I loved your philosophy on parenting and I immediately felt that my daughter will be absolutely fine at Perform!

    You are realistic and very real, this is an ability many parents have lost recently. Chidlren are turning to be dictators rather than happy individuals.

    Thank you for this lovely blog, however ranting it was!

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