THE mum of four looks at family life in her weekly column. Today, Peta – who is married to cycling great Mark Cavendish – talks of the importance of being supportive, rather than pushy.
I KNOW that by design we all think our children are brilliant. Perhaps those parenting rose-tinted glasses stem from us all believing we have passed on the very best of ourselves.
Or maybe it’s just because we have to use some method to get us through the series of exploding nappies and midnight parties.
But recently I have seen a wave of “caring” behaviour that has made me question where the line between supportive parent and pushy parent is drawn.
We’ve all been there where our kids start up one after-school club after another – when they have all the gear and no idea – and hope this is the hobby that will stick. It’s something I know Mark has always found frustrating.
He has always been so single-minded, knowing that the bike was the right path for him. But for me, I’ve always wanted the kids to try everything and see what fits, what they are good at and, more importantly, what they enjoy the most.
I’m no pushover, though. When things get tough or they don’t win at something I won’t let them give up too easily – hard work is needed in everything, after all. However, I would never force them to continue if they didn’t enjoy something, even if they did have world-class ability.
I believe fun, determination and teamwork are just as important as talent to succeed. Delilah, for example, is progressing well in gymnastics and adores it. She has more muscle than I could ever dream of already – and a little squad she supports and thrives in.
She definitely has an ability to do well in gymnastics, but I equally don’t think she is ready for Team GB any time soon – and that is perfectly OK, she is only seven. I push her to be the best she can be, but my support is to lift her up, not beat her up.
Yet I have seen parents quizzing coaches as to why their children can’t do the same things as their peers and why they are not good enough to make the team, as well as pulling apart other children . . . in front of the other kids.
I mean, who is it really who wants to be picked? The kids or the adults? I am so very proud when my children do well and excel in whatever they do. But their milestones are only relevant to them.
What makes me proudest of all is to see them work hard, get back up when they get knocked down and learn how to celebrate their peers’ successes.
To see someone else shine bright, is not to dull your own light.