Pushy Parents, from Nigel Davies

September 23, 2007 |

ParentsI've regularly encountered parents who push their kids too hard. How do I know it's too hard? Because I can see the stress in their game. I stopped coaching one kid many years ago because he got so scared of losing that he kept offering draws. I told his dad that we needed to make the lessons "lower key" so the boy would actually treat them as something more like fun and try to win his games. Instead the father insisted that we double the coaching sessions. So I quit. They got other coaches and then finally the kid stopped playing altogether.

To a greater or lesser extent this is very common in the chess scene. The parents argue that they are doing the kids a good turn by helping develop their skills and besides, little Johnny 'likes' chess. The kid gets parental approval when he does well so he goes along with the process. Everyone is happy. Or are they? Doesn't it depend how one defines happiness?

For some it's achievement. In our culture money is a biggie. People define themselves according to how much of it they have — if they're rich they figure they must be happy, smart, etc. and be more important than those without. This is fine until the cracks begin to show between what they have and who they are. That's when their lives disintegrate, and suddenly all that really matters to them is whether Mum and Dad really loved them. The thought in the back of their minds is that it was really just self-love, with the kids being a shiny reflection of themselves. Amore propre tranferred to parenthood.

What really matters is whether you're patient with your kids, spend time with them and take time to listen. The "education" side may be secondary at best, and, at worst, sow the seeds for the disintegration of their lives.

Mark Goulston adds:

Any parent this applies to might enjoy my essay Grow Your Company Without Shortchanging Your Kids.





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