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Sociology in the News: Say goodbye to the 'tiger mom'?

Vicki Woolven

26th September 2022

Are our children's passions their passions, or just ones we think they should have as we try to invest in their human capital? It seems so - and we are beginning to realise - so is it time for the 'tiger moms' to give in and embrace 'jellyfish parenting'?

This article really resonated with me - my own daughter has just started high school and over the last decade I have spent countless hours taking her to and from extra-curricular activities - some which she loved (Brownies, horse riding, Kuk Sool Wan, Hama bead club) and some she hated (swimming, gymnastics, after-school sports). Now she is in Year 7, this has stopped - extra-curricular activities now generally don't involve the taxi of mum and dad service, and to be honest don't seem quite so important - she is 11, surely she has enough human capital now? Although if left to her own devices her extra-curricular activities would be 100% Minecraft based.

This article looks at the idea of the 'tiger mom' and the intense programme of clubs and activities that parents often think they have to provide for their children - parting with hard earned cash, signing up months in advance and clocking up countless hours sitting on the poolside or in a car park - often juggling this between 2 or 3 children. It looks at the idea of children gaining competitive skills but also how the whole industry of child activities is based around competitive parenting - how once you are told your child has a bit of ability in whatever the activity may be you are suddenly compelling to signing up for extra and longer sessions, obviously at a much greater cost, and then there comes the expense of taking part in actual competitions. My own niece is a really talented gymnast however my sister-in-law has to take her to 8 hours of training a week, and countless competitions up and down the country. My nephew is an incredible footballer - my brother-in-law volunteered to coach the team in order to spend more time with him, once it was suggested that he needed to train several times a week! In contrast, my other nieces and nephews sign up for things and quit all the time.

However we are experiencing a cost-of-living crisis - so cuts have to be made. For many families it is scaling back on these activities - often at the relief of kids, and actually parents when it comes to all that gained time. So quitting is coming back into fashion - in preparation for high school, my daughter and I started doing this about a couple of years ago: 'Mummy, do I have to keep doing gymnastics, I don't really like it'; Me: 'Hallelujah', said as I was skipping with glee across the car park!

So let's look at the idea of 'jellyfish parenting' - boneless and endless flexible. Sounds great!

Anyway, if you have spare few minutes have a read of the whole article - it is really useful to education -

Vicki Woolven

Vicki Woolven is Subject Lead for Key Stage 4 Humanities at tutor2u. Vicki previously worked as a Head of Geography and Sociology for many years, leading her department to be one of the GA's first Centres of Excellent, and has been a content writer, senior examiner and local authority Key Practitioner for Humanities.

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