You know you’re an extreme parent if…

Photo_95A32D3C-873D-F018-36CB-2EF3A19AE12EI really love this article, about extreme parenting. Mostly because it makes me feel extremely sane and on the right track (I conveniently ignore articles titled “You know you’re not doing enough for your kids when…”). I definitely don’t identify with any of these examples from the article:

You know you’re an extreme parent if you’ve ever told your kid that second best is not good enough.

You know you’re an extreme parent when you’re convinced your second-grade son is having more fun doing the Kumon advanced math program than watching Saturday morning cartoons.

You know you’re an extreme parent if your child, who does not have a documented learning disability, has more than three tutors.

OK, maybe this one, occasionally:

You know you’re an extreme parent when you make a trip to school to deliver a paper or homework that the child left at home.

In my defense, the school is a five minute walk away, and I practically pass by it on my way to the subway…OK, there’s no excuse. But on a scale of one to Amy Chua, I’d say I’m about a two. A three if I’m having a control-freak kind-of day, but those pass quickly.

A couple weeks ago Jake came home with some amazing news: he’d won second place in the school’s science fair! He’d earned it, too. He had stayed up late three nights in a row to get his project done. And yes, I had helped, but in a “No, you can’t fill the bathtub with pop and dump in a bucket of Mentos. But how about four bottles in the backyard?” kind-of way. Guidance, setting limits, shopping, helping him do some research, finding a kid-friendly website where he could produce his own charts and graphs, but letting him put everything together. His tri-fold presentation board didn’t look the best, but he was able to speak enthusiastically and knowledgeably about every stage of the experiment, and I think that’s what sold it for the science teachers. He’d worked so hard.

When he came home with his medal, he was simply beaming. The thought that there’s a parent out there who would have answered that pride with “How come you didn’t get first place?” makes me want to cry.

I know some people who are at the top, or wanted to be at the top, or used to be at the top. Most of them aren’t happy. One committed suicide. I’m not saying that it’s bad to strive to be the best, I think that’s a great motivator. But if you can’t handle it if you don’t get there, or you get there and can’t handle the pressure (especially if you’re used to your mommy doing everything for you), what then? And the couple of people I know who are bona-fide geniuses, I feel sorry for them most of all. Nothing is good enough. They walk around disappointed by everyone and everything. Being at the top just isn’t necessarily a good thing.

I just want my kids to grow up to be happy, passionate, productive adults who live up to their individual potentials. If they’re never the best at anything? Meh. I never was either. And I’m pretty damn happy.

Oh, and if they could manage never to end up on Cops, that would be great, too.

Jake and his medal

Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 0. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information. Amy also blogs at Filming In Brooklyn, Behind the Screen, and Momtourage, and podcasts with The Blogging Angels.


  1. Jessica says

    This is why I love you Amy! This is just what I’ve always said. I want my kids to find as much happiness as is practical in life and strive to the best of their potential. And you are right about super successful/smart people – it does not always make them happier.

    Congratulations to your son!

  2. Elissa says

    You had me at the line: “On a scale from one to Amy Chua…” Hilarious!

    Great article tho’and you raise an important point: let kids do their own work. My DD11 recently finished a model on Messapotamia (ancient civilization). My contribution? The house, a few art supplies and snacks. Was the end result an architectural wonder? No. Were the girls proud x 100 of what they accomplished? Yes. Mission, accomplished.

  3. says

    This is so true! Glad that you are genuinely happy with the medal and Jake looks great showing it off. Yeah, I just don’t get parents who think only first place is the real prize. They are missing so much of the journey and not doing their kids any favors.

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