Move over Tiger Mum – I’ve met the Devil Mum. How do you deal with a high-pressure parent?

I recently had the most distressing experience at pre-schooler swimming lessons.

{Warning: This blog post is serving as my self-counselling session as a result.}

I witnessed a mother verbally and physically assaulting her child because the mother believed her child was not swimming well enough. I ended up in tears watching this little 3 or 4 year old quivering in tears as her mother berated the child for not swimming better so that the child could move up to “level 3” rather than stay in the “level 1” class (even though level 1 was more than standard for the child’s age).

I don’t wish to record all the things I saw and heard the mother say and do, other than to say I have never, NEVER, witnessed such terrifying pressure from a parent towards a child.

I found myself in a real predicament. Should I interfere? How could I interfere? I know nothing about this mother and child. Maybe it was warranted (who was I to know what the child was or was not capable of?) What do I do?

Even now, hours later, I feel ill to my stomach remembering what I witnessed. It makes me infinitely sad.

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It reminds me of the new movie Whiplash. Apparently it’s “exhilarating” and “astounding” according to the reviews. I watched the trailer and as soon as I saw the music teacher slapping the student and verbally abusing him to perform better, I knew there was NO WAY I wanted to watch that movie. I couldn’t be further against abusive, pressuring, humiliating tactics designed to elicit performance from a child. The movie may be a masterpiece, but I personally don’t feel the desire to watch it. {Has anyone out there seen it and care to comment?}


I believe our responsibility as adults and parents is to create a spirit of wonder and enthusiasm to try anything and everything, to give it a go. Sure, when your child does something beyond normal expectations  it gives you a thrill and there is no harm in celebrating that…BUT if the whole focus is on the end performance rather than the process of doing, the joy in doing it is lost. And wouldn’t it be miserable to spend your whole life not enjoying anything you do and believing you are no good at anything?

What would you do in my situation today? Am I overreacting? I will put in a caveat that I am the sensitive type and it is possible that I am at the end of the spectrum with my thoughts on this.

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As a form of catharsis, I googled “Tiger Mum” and “Pressure on Children”. I found an article titled “How to Confront A High Pressure Parent”. It didn’t really make me feel better, but at least someone out there had identified and written something on the topic.

It seems there is quite the debate going on about the pros and cons of being a Tiger Parent. The book “The Battle of the Tiger Hymn” by Amy Chua seems to have started it. I haven’t read it, so I can’t comment.

On the flip side, I found that a mother called Tanith Carey has published a book “Taming the Tiger Parent“. Interesting.

What do you think about this comic strip? Amusing or not?


A penny for your thoughts? 

On a happier note, I’m posting this photo of my Miss 3 year old ready for her swimming lesson today. I’m often working at home on the computer in between caring for my children, so I love to find moments where I hide technology and just be in the moment and enjoy watching my children play. I’m conscious that our childrens’ generation are probably growing up thinking an iPhone is an adult’s 5th limb. I do use my iPhone and computer a lot for work as I usually work remotely – so I try to be mindful of some technology free time. Swimming classes are actually one of my favourite times to do this –   I simply sit and watch and it gives me such joy to do so {apart from the running negative commentary by the Devil Mum hovering over the pool fence abusing her child’s swimming efforts – but I’m going to put that memory behind me now and move on}. Thank you Miss 3 xx

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