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Do Parents Live Vicariously Through Their Children?

statue of mother with small childApril’s guest post from Monday about what makes good parenting had a line that said “most parents end up living their dreams vicariously through their children, or pushing their desires on them in the belief that they’re looking out for their child’s interests and doing what should be done for their future welfare.”

The part that interested me was the “most parents” part. April isn’t the first guest author to accuse parents of malfeasance.

Kathy wrote in Ambition, Your Child, and You that “The problem with most parents today is that they tend to force on their children ambitions that were once upon a time theirs, ambitions that went unachieved for lack of support, motivation and/or the lack of opportunity. And so when they have children to boss around, their dormant and unachieved ambitions come to the fore, and like tentacles, they wrap themselves around their children. Whether the child is interested or not, he or she is forced to attend dance lessons, tennis classes, piano tuitions, and so on and so forth. Meanwhile, the proud parent goes around bragging to anyone who is willing to lend half an ear how talented their youngster is and how he or she is a prodigy in the making.”

Sara in Do Interfering Parents Raise Successful Children wrote that parents are “trying to live their dreams through their children, little realizing that they’re destroying their children’s dreams in the process” and “They want their kids to be the best in any field; they don’t care that their kids are happy with just being children and are not interesed in being competitive

Those are some strong statements.

This begs some questions: What is your experience? Do parents live vicariously through their children? Did your parents? Do you? I have my own thoughts on this, but I want to hear yours first. Would you take a few minutes and leave a comment for me?

Image courtesy of Andrew Mason via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who don’t want to damage their children.

The editor-in-chief of Earnest Parenting, Amy is the mother of two sets of twin boys. Yes, they drive her crazy, but they also make her laugh occasionally. Amy enjoys writing, quilting, reading, and working on her burgeoning cyber empire.

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    { 13 comments… add one }

    • February 17, 2011, 10:27 am

      Yes, Amy I believe a lot of parents do this. I say let them follow there own dreams and stand behind the with encouragement. When my girls where small, I just watched them trying to pin point there talents. If i seen something they liked to do I encouraged it. Always let them know that they could do and be anything they wanted to be as long as they didn’t take from anyone or walk on anyone to get where they wanted to go.
      That is my story,
      Debbie

      • February 17, 2011, 4:07 pm

        Debbie I haven’t met anyone doing that through their kids yet. I’ve pondered deeply and gone over the list of people I know with children, and as far as I can tell they’re all behaving. Do you think I’ll see it with older kids in the family? Or is it where I live? Being so rural, the number of people I know is smaller, and then there’s less pressure and competition in the first place. What do you think?

    • Melinda
      February 19, 2011, 1:09 am

      I have at least 2 thoughts on this topic. (by the way – like your blog so far! Found it from http://jayme-teachablemoments.blogspot.com/)

      1. I know someone who absolutely did this with their daughter. Every unrealized dream of the parent was fulfilled for the child – and I think the child suffered for it. It really compromised her ability to forge her own identity and seek out her own desires.

      2. I think that we all probably do it – but the question is to what degree. If our vicarious living overrides the dreams of the child, that’s when we’re running amok as parents.

      • February 19, 2011, 11:52 pm

        Melinda, so nice to meet you! I just found Teachable Moments the other day…it’s such a neat idea.

        That’s so sad about the person you know who treated her daughter so badly. What would you say we could do as bystanders to help a child in that situation?

        And wow. That’s the best nutshell definition of the problem I’ve seen. Beautifully done!

    • February 20, 2011, 10:01 am

      I prefere to belive, that parents live vicariously through their children

    • Cathy
      May 13, 2011, 7:22 pm

      I wouldn’t begin to comment on other parents’ motives, because I’m not a mind reader. However, I was especially intrigued by your topic. As the youngest child of divorcing parents who both worked out of the home myself, I had trouble getting the support and rides and tuition I craved for my interests.

      So, as a parent I have tried so carefully to balance the encouragement I think they need to stick with an activity against the dangers of overscheduling, which can leave too little time for play, which is really important. I think I do a pretty good job, but it is always a little agonizing when winter hits and all of a sudden no one wants to go anywhere. We’re like bears going into hibernation who barely want to drag ourselves out to the school bus stop, let alone stay out or go out again to return home in the dark. This year I was more accepting of this than ever before, and all three of my kids have enthusiastically picked up a physical activity within two weeks of the solstice, totally unprompted by me. It can’t be a coincidence.

      On the other hand, in that semi-supervised youth I had, I gave up religious training and all four of the instruments I started to learn, which I regret to this day, so I have taken that choice away from my children, and my husband and I agree that these are parts of their education. What they do with these skills as adults is totally up to them, but I feel it my responsibility to see to it they get those, and can ride a bike and swim, to get through life with their options open.

      I seldom interrupt if there is art “happening” at home, and I make sure to make materials available, but for the most part, they haven’t enjoyed more than the first one or two after-school art lessons they’ve eagerly started, so in the last many years I have only signed them up for a couple of very rare private lessons that were requested, for better or worse, and I’m toying with buying a kiln. I find that they really like “doing art” with me, even if I don’t know what I’m doing; having me there, messing up too seems to give them confidence to try something a different way.

      Similarly, they’re a lot more eager to practice an instrument that I know they like playing, if I sit in the room and fold laundry or knit while they practice. I think almost anything they choose to do that isn’t watching television or playing computer games is a good choice, and getting them to finish out a year is more of a life lesson in commitment than important for turning them into divas. Having said that, it has taken me 18 years plus of parenting to see these issues so clearly. My children are gifted, and when I first I found this out from several different sources, I felt an opressive weight of responsibility for encouraging them to fulfill their potentials. Now I know that every child, regardless of level of ability, need some structured pursuits, and fun time with a parent who loves them they can count on, praise for good effort, not outcomes, and time to do what they enjoy alone.

    • Bridget
      November 18, 2011, 4:07 am

      You want to experience the whole parents living through their children. The place to see it, hear it, feel it is Millfield Prep School in Glastonbury. We were there for a bit. I would say its a bad case. Amazing place and achieves in all areas (sports and extra curricular) but you need to step back as it brings out the worst in most of the parents there.

    • bobsyruncle
      January 24, 2012, 12:22 am

      My old man did this and I can honestly say it resulted in just about every father/son endeavor we attempted degenerating into a caged wrestling match of one form or another. He worked in a field that involved groups of people with different disciplines, backgrounds and educations working together to generate a finished product. Specifically, accident investigation reports at a large industrial site.
      In his youth, education was not at the foremost of his concerns. His dream was to enter the same blue-collar field his father had worked in, a dream that did eventually come true. He got to run an engine for the railroad. It didn’t require advanced education but an economic shift ultimately sent him back to school to finish a bachelor’s degree and start another career. As a re-tread with a weak background in math and science he gravitated toward something he thought was obtainable, a Business degree. After a short detour to the US Navy as an enlisted (Vietnam was in full swing,) he finished his degree. Unfortunately for him, this lead to a series of tedious, un-fulfilling, ho-hum jobs until he parlayed his blue-collar and military experience into the safety gig described above.
      The engineers he worked with always intimidated him and their ability to decode scientific notation left him in awe. He was envious of the respect and authority they commanded and for as long as I can remember has been trying to do me the favor of forcing me to become one of them. As if me being an engineer would somehow win him a seat at the ‘cool table.’ In his mind it was justified as a benefit to me in that I would get to be the smart guy in every room I entered. Ironically, this has led to just the opposite, as I am always surrounded by engineering types who have a much better grip on things than I could ever have. While I am capable, I lack the ‘knack’ which enables many of the self-selected technical types in my midst to do with little effort what I have to work myself to death to achieve. Worst of all, I don’t really enjoy anything about the process, its something I do because I have to.
      Why do I have to… because the old man was a micro-manager to the extreme and a master manipulator. He couldn’t delegate anything to save his life. This meant that I was never in a position to go my own way in spite of him, he knew better than to trust me with that much wiggle room. I struggled constantly to gain his trust without realizing that trust wasn’t the issue. He would never risk his dream by allowing me an opportunity to derail it. Me being every bit as independent and stubborn as him only intensified the conflict. At times my Mother feared we would kill each other during one of our constantly occurring rows.
      Early in life I was forced to tag along on his numerous train-watching day trips to the small desert town he grew up in. It had folded with the decline of railroads and was little more than a sterile patch of dirt by the time I was looking at it. He loved to relive his glory days and talk trains with anyone who would listen, I was often his uninterested but captive audience. I gravitated toward aviation as it had absolutely nothing to do with trains.
      This was tolerated in my elementary school years, but as I got older and it became apparent that I was actually serious about it, the whole idea of me pursuing a pilot slot in the military became his worst nightmare. Luckily for him, such an ambition is difficult to pursue, especially without any support at home.
      By the time I was in high school (a ‘computers-in-every-class-room’ magnet school with a technology applications program that had nothing to do with engineering,) he was telling anyone who would listen all about things I had built or fixed and about what great preparation the magnet school program was for an engineering career (it wasn’t.) My interest in aviation was always downplayed as a foolish and passing fancy that would evaporate after a predicted attack of ‘common sense.’
      During my sophomore year, a recruiter from the Air Force Academy gave a pitch at my school. I was later caught digging in my father’s office for a stamp to send in the card with a request for an application packet. For this I received a pointed lecture with the following main points, “You’re too much like me. The military is not for you, you are too independent and you don’t listen.” The card, as well as any hope of going to a military academy went into the trashcan that night. No way I could get through that selection process behind his back. ( I confronted him about it years later. He claimed not to remember it.)
      The immediate blow-back was my realization that I really hadn’t been busting my butt to secure for myself better opportunities. I was doing it for his benefit, and look at what good that had done me. My grades immediately tanked, ushering in a more intensified series of ‘homework wars.’ I wasn’t doing the work anymore and he had run out of things to take away from me as punishment.
      I really didn’t have much to loose. The school I was stuck in bused kids in from all over town. Between the two hour commute (counting the walk, and the bus ride that had two legs,) the 8 period day (as opposed to 6 periods of a normal high school,) my friends all living in different parts of town and there not being enough girls to go around, I didn’t have much of a social life for him to threaten. And with him being a bit of a tyrant, I didn’t have much freedom for him to take away either.
      I did have the Boy Scouts and an organization called the Civil Air Patrol (an Air Force auxillary that was like an Air Force explorer scout program with an emphasis on search and rescue as well as aviation.) They both got me out of the house on a regular basis and out of town about one weekend a month and two weeks a year. It was like being in the Guard but without any obligations, unpleasant deployments, or pay.
      Support for my involvement was sporadic at best. At first encouraged as a way to keep me busy and thus supposedly out of trouble, it was later only tolerated and quickly became my father’s favorite thing to take away as punishment for lack of compliance with his school demands. Neither of those organizations was going to help him railroad me into an engineering career and neither were known for discouraging military service or careers in aviation.
      During the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school he made a master move that would have impressed Machiavelli. After trying in vein to scare me out of participating in a search and rescue training program with the Civil Air Patrol during the up coming summer vacation, he put me to work crunching numbers on the cost. I foolishly approached this task as a form of negotiation with two potential outcomes. I made a conservative estimate and mentally began looking for ways to lower the cost in order to get a green light after he refused the first estimate. He blindsided me with an offer I was too stupid to refuse. “…How much would flying lessons cost?”
      I took the bait and unwittingly set myself up for the worst tease of my life. After I accepted the bribe, he granted it ‘school status.’ No matter how low my grades got, he would refrain from pulling the plug.
      Some of the engineers he worked with had private pilot’s licenses. He wanted to make flying an expensive hobby that I would need an engineer’s paycheck to support. These engineers he wanted me to emulate were the kind of egg-headed amateur pilots who belong to ‘fliers and liars’ clubs and ultimately out-smart themselves into mountainsides destroying perfectly good airplanes in the process. Needles to say, the engineer table was never a place I strove to belong.
      As I began to master the Cessna 152, any doubts I had previously harbored evaporated. I knew I wanted to fly for the military. Unlike most of the other flying students, (especially the young ones who were being forced by their parents to secure a meaningless bragging right of soloing on their 16th birthday,) I had gained the genuine acceptance and trust of the instructor pilots I had flown with, as well as a secure and quiet confidence in the cockpit. For a 16year-old, the camaraderie of banter in the dispatch area and in the smoke pit with real pilots, was both glory and torture. For me to know that I had found my calling and that I would not be allowed to pursue it was the cruelest tease I have yet experienced.
      Not a single romantic heartbreak before or since compares, and in spite of the slim pickings and difficult circumstances described above, I had still managed a few by that age. The worst was having my instructor pilot tell me that I should think about flying for a living (which would have required a great deal more training that was not part of the deal,) as if I were the one he needed to sell on the idea.
      I was too ashamed to admit that I didn’t have enough control over my own life to do anything more than fantasize about going any further than a private pilots license (No passengers or cargo for hire=no gainful employment, just an expensive hobby.) My senior year was spent on lockdown. God forbid I should get the opportunity to call in reinforcements from the outside. I was only allowed to be in one of three places, the airport, home or school. Finishing my eagle scout requirements was out of the question as was making rank in the Civil Air Patrol that would have shown up on paper.
      When it came time to apply for college, The old man made it clear that out of state schools were out of the question. Ultimately the most I could get support for was the local college, and of course, “living in the dorms would be a waste of money, you should stay here at home.” This after insisting that I not apply for any scholarships.
      All the ROTC information I had gathered at a local college fair had scared him into playing dirty. The local uni had no ROTC programs and if I was living at home he would be in a position to interrogate and harass on a regular basis. I was still only 17 and couldn’t enlist on my own, so UNLV it was.
      To add insult he waited until half way into winter break before suggesting that I look into getting a dorm room at a school on the other end of the state. It was too late to apply for transfer, a dorm room or even a dorm room at the school I was already attending.
      In retrospect, the offer was probably made for show, to quiet the criticism of his co-workers who were by then telling him to cut me a little slack. He didn’t listen. He also continued to play up his “I’m not an asshole, I’m spending all this money so he can fly,” get out of jail free card.
      The biggest slap in the face was his continual habit of bragging about how supportive he was being when it came to the flying, when we both knew good and well that he never intended to let it go farther than a Private Pilot’s License (as opposed to a commercial, which would have preferably been followed by an Air Transport Pilot rating with multi-engine and instrument endorsements.)
      By the end of my second semester, the walls had closed in too far for me to function any longer. My GPA was at 1.8, I was on academic suspension and the old man was still trying to throw his weight around. After a series of arguments that ended with choke holds, I took a job as a baggage handler at the airport, found a roommate and moved out. To enlist would have meant entrapment in the enlisted ranks as my grades would have disqualified me from any education and commissioning programs. The Army’s Warrant Officer Pilot Training program was out of the question as well.
      To make matters worse, the only way I could have gotten the grades up to a point where I could transfer was to go back to the same school under the same arrangement that had failed so miserably the first time. By that point I had quit flying cold turkey. Put-putting around in the practice area and buying ‘hundred dollar cheeseburgers’ in nearby towns was no “fix for the itch.” Besides, I was through with giving the old man something to hold over my head.
      The worst part of being a baggage handler was having to watch other people live a different flavor of my dream every day. And because it was a fly-by-night start up, most of the pilots were visibly in over their heads. Every time I marshaled a plane into the gate, pushed one back from the gate or watched one take off, I died a little inside. To watch an ‘anointed’ retard get out and swagger to the breakroom after nearly taxiing into the jetway added insult to injury.
      The airline I was working for was as dysfunctional as they come. After they declared chapter 11 I got caught in a purge. After running out of money and employment options at about the same time, I was dealing with an additional problem. My roommate had acquired a serious drug habit (go figure, the guy with a real reason to give up was the one who stayed clean.) With nowhere else to go I was forced to move back in with my parents.
      My father, ever the denier of reality, chose to interpret this as an ‘attack of common sense.’ Before moving back in I had been making the rounds with local recruiters. I really had nothing to loose at that point and the slim chance offered by that route was better than none. In a panic he offered to help me go to a school in North Dakota that one of his coworkers’ kids had just recently graduated from.
      After I moved back in, the old man dropped any and all talk about helping me leave town for school. Once again, my hopes and dreams where the white elephant in the room. It was nearly impossible to bring it up. Getting a word in edge wise can be a challenge with him, and if its something the old man doesn’t want to hear… he just doesn’t hear it.
      The day after I moved back in, I got a call back on one of the million or so resumes I had spread around town. Nearly all forms of employment that pay a living wage here require 21yrs of age, I didn’t have that yet. A few days after Sept 11, I found myself in an ‘office space’ environment scanning timeshare contracts for $9/hr and slowly loosing my sanity as well as any hope.
      After having been fired from a job I was doing well at, I found it disconcerting that I couldn’t even get yelled at in my new job. A job I not only hated but was horrible at (the quota was 200 contracts a day, I was pushing a mediocre 100 to 150 and many of those had data entry errors thanks to me.) Apparently incompetence is the ultimate path to job security. Aside from being the only guy in an office dominated by middle aged women there was no explanation for the free ride I was getting. ‘Free ride’ is probably not the right phrase. While I may have been getting away with not producing results, I was nearly killing myself in the futile effort to keep up. They may have simply taken pity on me.
      I signed up for night classes at the community college after the school in North Dakota rejected my application. With a full time job at work, a full time job dealing with the peanut gallery at home, and a nearly full time job of retaking Calculus I and English 101 at the same time I was running on fumes.
      The result was two dropped classes and a touch of depression as my Father’s mood began to steadily improve. The walls were again closing in around me and he couldn’t have been happier. My apparent failures were giving him plenty of propaganda to use against me. As far as he was concerned, he hadn’t forced me out of school with his insanity and wasn’t making my pursuit of happiness impossible. He was in fact doing me a favor by making things as difficult as he possibly could. In his mind, and this is what he wanted others to think as well, I had failed all on my own and to give me another chance would only be a waste of money. This attitude proved contagious… I found it in every supervisor from that point on.
      In late 2002, I bit the bullet and enlisted in the Air Force. The required 6month wait before my shipping date had my father convinced that I was bluffing. Its amazing what people will tell themselves when reality is just too distasteful. He had backed me into a corner where this was my only option remaining and yet he was thoroughly convinced that I wouldn’t actually do it. How could I not do it? That is how accustomed he is to always getting his way. When it isn’t possible he expects someone to make it happen anyway.
      My higher than average ASVAB score landed me in an aircraft maintenance job populated by underachievers. People who, get this, would have made great engineers, but thought it would be more fun, less work, and more glory to enlist in the Air Force and sand bag it instead. I found it impossible to differentiate myself from the attention starved cranks and was once again falling through cracks.
      I couldn’t get anyone to take me seriously. It was just like my job at the airport in that the Shawshank Redemption question of ‘what I was in for’ garnered a long and convoluted explanation no one had the patience to listen to. Putting together a package for the Army’s Warrant Officer Pilot Training program (which didn’t require a four year degree) proved futile as my GPA reared its ugly head again. To make matters worse none of my supervisors was going to help me show them up by recommending me for a pilot slot, especially since I wasn’t the best technician in the shop. No way was I getting Letters of Recomendation from any of them. They all seemed to think that only a really good tech would be able to fly a plane. They appeared oblivious to the idiocy our pilots displayed on a daily basis and my Private Pilot’s License and 100hrs of total time counted for nothing in their minds. It also didn’t help that my career field was short on bodies and any technician was better than no technician.
      When my enlistment began to run short, I went to the reserve recruiter on base as required. Did I mention that I was having to watch jerks in F-15s take off in full afterburner almost 24/7. Its a beautiful thing, but not when I was having to watch it knowing I would never get a chance of my own. Anyway this reserve recruiter sold me on joining the reserves as a flight engineer. Its not a pilot slot but its still in the cockpit. I immediately began jumping through hoops of fire to get a flight physical. The recruiter had to get a Major to write a letter for me just so I could get the flippin’ thing done. I out-processed the active duty side, and squatted at my parents house for a month while making arrangements to move back East to Massachusetts where my new reserve C-5 unit was located.
      As I continued the bureaucratic nightmare of getting it all lined up, my ever supportive father was doing everything he could to convince himself and me that it shouldn’t happen and that it wasn’t going to happen. He also began suckering every ex military person he knew into trying to talk me out of it. He had convinced them all that I was a misguided boob in need of an attack of ‘common sense.’ After five minutes of conversation with his hired guns, they each sounded confused. What they were hearing from me was flying in the face of what my conniving father had been telling them.
      To make matters worse, I flew all the way across the country on my own dime and reported for duty only to be told that for the 1.5 to 2 yrs I would be in full time on-the-job-training I would not be on full time orders. The bastards weren’t going to pay me. “Think of it as an adventure, you really have to want this.” Easy for them to say, they got paid when they were in training. It didn’t matter how bad I wanted it. I couldn’t spend two Massachusetts winters living in my car, and there would be no free time to earn a living wage. All that work had been for nothing.
      The longest plane ride home landed me in exactly the situation I had sworn never to accept again. Living at home with my parents with no other option but to enroll at UNLV.
      I bulled my way through the first semester by sleeping when they were home and studying all night while they slept (I still had to drop the dreaded Calculus I which meant my GPA was largely unaffected by the herculean effort.) With the old GI bill covering tuition I was able to get some help with living expenses from the folks. This was only after the old man realized that it was either that or I was dropping out again and going back to work full time.
      He was not receptive to the idea of me getting an apartment. That would have afforded me too much dignity. Instead he insisted upon paying for a single dorm room with his credit card.
      He could have given me the same amount in cash and I would have been able to live in an apartment, but he preferred the dorm as it afforded him the sensation of control and forced me to stay with them during summer and winter break. He was getting even with me for not coming home to visit while I was stationed away from home.
      After busting the age cutt-off for pilot slots in the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps the only option remaining is the Army’s WOFT program. After four years of head bashing I have finally gotten my grades up to a near 3.0. No easy task as an engineering major. But I still have another two years to go, the GI bill money is running out and now that I can change majors without getting stuck with the bad GPA, I am not in a position to do so (I need work and may as well get paid if I’m gonna get stuck with a job I hate.) Also, putting together a WOFT packet has proven impossible without Letters of Recommendation from those same military supervisors who essentially gave me the finger when I was busting butt for them. Oddly enough my military experience is working against me. The old man is winning, the clock is ticking, and as a 30yr old I now thoroughly hate the the life that has been foisted upon me. Thanks Dad. Saddly, I doubt he will ever pull his head out of his ass, and if he ever does it will be too late.
      For all you parents who are afraid of being too strict or domineering. Don’t worry. My old man really had to work at it. Most of the idiots I’m in school with now have had the opposite problem. They’re like a pack of wild animals. I can’t even begin to imagine what made their parents think they were ready to be turned loose. I watch with great scorn as they piss away every opportunity they have at their disposal. I’m literally watching five year olds run around with blank checks, no limit credit cards, and zero accountability. An yet for some odd reason, I’m the one who can’t be trusted to run his own damned life.

      • January 26, 2012, 5:32 pm

        bobsyruncle,

        Wow. That’s quite a story, and I’m sorry for the…frustrations. Which is an awful word and no where near appropriate but it’s the best I can come up with. Thanks for the encouragement there at the end, and I truly hope you are able to follow your dreams somehow. Don’t give up!

        Amy

    • Adrian
      July 18, 2012, 11:05 am

      I started to play piano when I was 10 years. I played for about a year and more, but then I started to don’t like it anymore(I was really good by those two years, I read notes like I had been playing for much longer and played very hard song and melodies). I continued playing until I was 12, then I finally got the guts to tell them I didnt want to play anymore. At first they just ignored me and said ” yes you are”, but after a short while they started to understand I weren’t going to play anymore, so they started temting me with “if’s”. ” one more and you’ll get that and those”, but I couldn’t stand it. After a few months after I said I didn’t want to play anymore, they cancelled the exercises and I was finally done. I thought. Until today( 15 years old) they still say things like: “If you had continued, YOU could be that guy…” (with with disapointment) if we are watchibg tv together and we see a piano player. After that it’s just an akward silence and I usually leave. It’s been better though, by the years, but some day they’ll bring it up again, I’m sure.

      • July 18, 2012, 9:36 pm

        Adrian, I’m sorry for the hassle. All I can do is try not to do that to my kids. It’s super hard not to say I told you so though.

    • March 6, 2014, 7:20 am

      Amy,
      I have been researching this phenomenon, and I can’t find any studies on the effects of living vicariously through your children. This is rather disconcerting because there seems to be quite a lot of differing opinions as to when this becomes a problem. The problem is that most parents are deciding that the only way to ensure they don’t do it is to not push their kids at all, in other words to err on the side of caution.
      I find this option to be very dangerous, we are bringing up another generation of underachievers. I am trying to find the balance but there are so many conflicting views. Some people that would seem to be the ultimate offenders such as Andy Murray’s mother, who was Andy’s first tennis coach in many ways seems to have done a fantastic job of raising him. Is this all an illusion or has Andy’s mother found a way to live vicariously through her son without ruining his life? Is she really an extremely good mum, or is she just lucky?
      There is also an opinion that most parents hope their children don’t make the same stupid mistakes as they did. If this is the case can it be wrong to do that? Is the problem somewhere else? Could it be that the parents that are stuffing up their kids lives are just bad parents? Could it be that they use bad motivating techniques? Could the problem be that they don’t know when to let go?
      I think this whole theory is very much like the self-esteem theory that took over twenty years to disprove while doing untold damage to the Y generation. I think that spreading this theory is irresponsible in the extreme before we have the evidence to back it up.
      What do you think?

      • Amy LeForge
        March 9, 2014, 12:17 am

        Adam, I have struggled with this very issue. This particular post was written by a contributing author, and I always got the impression that she wrote it in response to her own past which was less than satisfactory for her.

        I do agree that we have an underachieving problem. I was just discussing with my mother-in-law this morning that I think it’s possible that each succeeding generation of parents in this world seems to be less effective. Perhaps that’s just my frustration talking, but it is an interesting idea to consider. And a frightening one.

        I’m not familiar with Andy Murray, so I cannot speak to that example. I do know that my children are frequently annoyed with my efforts at “doing it better”, in part because they don’t understand why I make the choices I do. They can’t. They didn’t live through my past, so we have a communication gap that is difficult to overcome.

        I never liked the self-esteem movement, and I regret the damage it did (which is probably much more pervasive than we can realize even now). Hopefully we find a way to raise expectations for our children and increase their motivation to achieve. My father-in-law says, “Children will act in accordance with what they think you believe about them.” Wise words.