On the one side:
Psychotically competitive with a win at all costs ethos. These parents are the ones that insist their three year olds learn Mandarin and violin and who probably go to job interviews with their 20 year olds to ensure they say the right thing.
And on the other:
Completely horizontal to the point of disinterest. Let kids be kids. It'll all balance out. They'll find their way. Doesn't matter what they achieve as long as they're happy (or I'm happy as I quaff my chablis ignoring reading homework or the fact that they're still in nappies aged 7).
Now with any scale, what you're aiming for is moderation. Somewhere in the middle that provides a good balance. But most parents will probably sit slightly on one side or the other (after all, that pointy bit in the middle is a bit uncomfy).
And I definitely sit on the competitive parenting side. I try hard not to. I really do. I tell myself it's not about winning, it's about doing your best. My head believes this. My heart can't help but feel a little gutted when my kids don't get a certificate or win a race or get picked for something or aren't moved up a reading level. I feel as though it's my failing, not their's, as though I should have done more to help them.
Which let's face it, is nuts. But I can't help myself. I want my children to do well.
I'm NOT one of those parents who insists their children learn a foreign language or a muscial instrument or spend hours training for a sport or hothouse at home doing handwriting, reading and maths from age 1.
But I do ensure that effort is put into homework (and I can't believe I'm the only parent who excitedly waits for the homework to be marked to see
Monday - cricket
Tues - homework day
Wed - tag rugby (used to be Beaver's too but son1 decided it was boring)
Thur - swimming
Friday - football practice
Sat - cricket
Sun - football matches for one and rugby for the other
Fine print: they do also spend an inordinate amount of time doing nothing but stare at a tv and they get to play plenty of games too that don't involve a screen.
Which for a 5 and 7 year old seems a little mad. My rationale for this much activity is partly because I want to knacker them out and instil a love of sport and fitness in them so that they don't turn into obese teens, standing listlessly on a street corner waiting for trouble to find them. But it's also because I want to expose them to different things so that should they possibly have a hidden talent (which if they do they don't get from me) it has a chance to shine. I do not insist that they are the best at what they do. I do encourage them to be a team player, a good sport and to enjoy it.
But secretly I want them to do well. I'd like them to get picked for something. Possibly just because I have visions of them became famous sports people who'll earn a fortune and buy me a tropical island somewhere some day.
This all reared its head today when I saw a poster for football trials for an elite football team. Basically, they have scouts looking at little kids to see who has potential and if they're accepted they get trained up to a mega standard.
This posed a quandary. Yes I would like my son to try out. No it's highly unlikely that he's in the top 2% of ability in our region. Yes we will have to deal with the fall out and crushed ego if he's not accepted, particularly if his friend is. But yes, learning that you don't always win is a good life lesson. And No, I really don't want my son to be a professional footballer, regardless of how many tropical islands he could afford to buy me (not that I'm getting ahead of myself or anything).
So we're going to have a go. And I have warned him that it might come to nothing, but all that is important is that he has a go and tries his best. And if he isn't picked, he still gets to play his usual brilliant way for his normal team. But the question isn't really how he'll feel if he's not picked, it's how I'll feel. And I think we all know how that will be.
So where do you fit on the scale?