Are YOU an Over-Anxious Parent?

Over Anxious Parent Kathy Lette

A) Yes. B) Yes.

Are you sitting comfortably? Pen poised? …Then please answer these simple questions. 1) What is a ‘fronted adverbial”? 2) Define a ‘gerund’? 3) Calculate the kinetic energy of a 2,000 tonne car travelling at 30 km an hour.

So, how are you going so far? Complete fail? Is your brain broiling?… Are you tempted to impale yourself on your pen? Well, you’re not alone. Bewildered by modern syllabuses and new teaching techniques, parents are paying up to $100 an hour for private coaching just so they can help with their children’s homework.

Private tutoring of kids has become so widespread that ambitious parents are trying to get an advantage by hiring tutors for themselves, so they can fully understand the homework of their precious progeny.

A company called Tutor House has set up the service after conducting a survey of 2,500 parents which found that more than two thirds feared that their ignorance was handicapping their children’s education.

Over a fifth of the parents surveyed, revealed that they regularly helped with homework, with mums more involved than dads. More than two thirds of the parents surveyed said they didn’t understand new teaching methods and all struggled with new terminology. And who wouldn’t be linguistically lost amid the verbiage of ‘omniscient narrators’ , ‘quadratic sequences’ and ‘fronted adverbials”.

As if being a parent isn’t stressful anxiety. Booking Suzuki lessons, balancing meals, creating hygienic toilet environments, buying educational Lego , plastic free toys and eco-friendly reusable nappies, supervising digital de-toxes, discouraging tattoos, side-boobs, piercings and thinking that the Kardashians are role models, instead of what they are – models without roles…. Yep, parental anxieties tend to just pile up on top of each other, like a Chinese acrobatic group. And now I have to add tutoring to an already over-booked schedule?

And when exactly would I make the time? A parent’s “day off” , i.e., Saturday, is one exhausting ricochet as you chauffeur kids to and from various birthday parties, Ten Pin Bowling and Rock Climbing, and at absolute opposite ends of the city; squeezing in football practise, hair cuts, dance classes, tennis lessons and the weekly supermarket shop on route.

Your other “day off”, Sunday, is reserved for clearing up the house which your kids have left looking like a pigsty…Except, glancing around, you realise that no self-respecting pig would set trotter in here! No matter how I try, my house never looks like the model home photographed in parenting magazines. It looks more like an SAS training ground. And what mother can settle down with a tutor when, judging by the peculiar odour emanating from under the couch, a surfeit of skunks have obviously gone there to die?

Mind you, if I did have a tutor, the one burning question I would have for him or her is this – when did parenting get so hard? I’m already confused about what kind of parent I’m supposed to be. Am I a Helicopter parent? A Snowplough parent? Or a Tiger mother?

Tiger mothers are so prevalent; it’s now not unusual for parents to send CV’S to nursery schools for their two year olds. Two! Even worse, a report entitled “More than A Job’s Worth: making careers education age-appropriate” says that children as young as three should be introduced to careers education with the aim of broadening horizons.

Yet more to feel inadequate and anxious about. “Here is your rattle darling and a rusk, and a stethoscope because I feel a surgical vocation don’t you? Building blocks? Yes, but only if you also leaf through this book of architectural designs.”

If this pressure keeps up, the highlight of a parent’s day will be inhaling their kid’s homework glue. What today’s parents desperately need are lessons in how to chill out about parenting. Let me tutor you on how to forget about being perfect and learn to be more laid back. First, pour yourself a big cocktail. Secondly, go and sit in the garden. Now, put on your headphones so you can’t hear your kids’ demands. Next, pop your feet up and dive into some “continuous prose”, otherwise known as a novel and then….RELAX.

Ah, well done. Go to the top of the class.

Please do share your most angst-ridden or hilarious parenting moments.

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