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Is Performance Parenting A Thing?

Is performance parenting a thing? I'm sure that if you have spent some time on forums and on social media, you may be familiar with the concept of performance parenting. However if you are not, but you're a parent yourself, chances are you've encountered it without even knowing. I didn't know that this was a 'thing' until I read something online and soon realised that perhaps without knowing, I may be one too. For those who are completely oblivious to this term, performance parenting is basically referring to parents who turn their 'parenting' game up a notch or two and into a performance. Have you ever spoken to your child differently in public than you would at home? Do you encourage your child to pick out certain colours and objects around them at restaurants? Perhaps your child knows their alphabet or knows a rhyme really well and you decide to recite them during the weekly shop? Sound like you? You could be guilty of performance parenting.

Or, what about this scenario.You're at the doctors and your toddler decides that now is the perfect time to have a tantrum whilst shouting out 'You're a poo head, you're a poo head'. But you don't want to appear to frustrated and show her and everyone in sight that you're annoyed and ask her to politely to sit down and be quiet. But she looks at you, like you're a stranger because you never act like this when she's having a tantrum or calling you a 'poo head' at home. Perhaps you and your husband have decided that 4pm is a great time to decide to do the weekly shop, and so use chocolate as a bribe to keep the tantrums at bay. But you notice people are staring at you as you're shoving chocolate buttons into your child's mouth, making sure that people can overhear you telling her that 'This is not we normally eat, is it'? so loud, that you can clearly tell you feel guilty. But let's face it, those chocolate button help. 

Parenthood is supposed to be a wonderful time in your life, but all too often, it can become filled with shame, guilt and frustration. I have been a mother to my daughter for three years now and I am beyond exhausted listening to all the shaming and judgement that can comes with being a parent. I do think that a big part of the problem is that people think they can and should share their opinions with other people (and yes, I appreciate the irony). What exactly is it that makes us feel ashamed and insecure and the judgement and shame from others becomes so overwhelming that we need to put on a show. However hard we try you cannot always stop people from judging on another, all you can do is control how you react to that judgement. Perhaps we need to stop being so competitive about our children and accept that they are all different and have different needs rather than seeing them as another badge by which we can be judged. Whether this means bribing your child with chocolate for a stress free shopping trip, or whether you want to continue learning as you count out numbers and recite the ABCs with your children.

With this whole 'performance parenting', it's like we are all looking for an unspoken approval in some way, and that you want others to see that you have this parenting thing down to a tee. You looking for some king of assurance that you're doing ok. Actually, when I hear or see 'performance parenting' now, I love to see it. It doesn't bother me in the slightest that a parent is reciting ABCs with her toddlers, or that they are singing all the words to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. I did this so much, when my little lady was younger and even now on the Nursery runs we will sing, count or say our ABCs. However I am in now way doing this for the benefit of others to see what an amazing mother I think I am, but in reality over the past few years it's just been me and her for the most part. It's kind of lonely and my little lady is a great listener. So we are just being us, that's our normal.

I guess now that I know that 'performance parenting' is a thing, I will become more aware, or even conscious that I may been too loud and probably end up being judged for boasting or showing off. How has this wonderful world of parenting become so crazy and simple things like talking to your children can be deemed as a bad thing and that we are putting on a performance. I know that I would much prefer to listen to a parent teaching their child something, and see them engage with them rather than taking no interest whatsoever, ignoring them while tapping away on their phones watching senseless videos on social media. Now that I find more frustrating more than anything. I hate to see children being completely ignored when they have taken pride in something that they have achieved, but are met with a phone in front of their parents face. Of course there are some parents who are very guilty of performance parenting to try and feel superior, but I am honestly all for anything that makes parents and their children happy, especially if it makes them feel better about themselves.   So parents who are singing nursery rhymes loudly on the bus, parents reciting the alphabet with your children on the weekly shop - keep doing what you're doing. Be confident in your abilities, don't worry about the milestones, and try and ignore all the eye-rollers. You're doing what you think is best, and ultimately what's best for you and your family - if people don't like it, it's their issue not yours! 

27 comments on "Is Performance Parenting A Thing?"
  1. I have definitely done a bit of this in the past! My second son has multiple disabilities though so I now celebrate a whole new range of things which others might not see. #KCACOLS

  2. I must say I had been guilty of this in the past with my firstborn. Then I realized I really didn't need anyone's approval and every child is different. Like Rachel, I've learnt to accept my kids the just the way they are. Great post, BTW!


  3. I read a study once about attachment parenting, and it said that when parents knew they were being watched, their interactions with their child were much higher quality than when they thought they were alone. I think we all act differently when others are around, (I don't pick my nose in public!) but like you say, what's the problem if it means you're having richer interactions with your child? It's so easy to fall into monotonous complacency at home with the piles of other stuff you have to do, I know that's true for me anyway, so that's one of the reasons I like to get out. Whatever it takes, right?! #KCACOLS

  4. How interesting, I had never heard of this as a concept before but reading your post I've not only seen other people doing it but have also done it myself. Love your message at the end to ignore judgemental stares, so very very true xx #kcacols

  5. I have to say that I had never heard this term before. There is so much labeling going on now with parenting. Why can't we just "parent" without being told we are doing something else. There is far too much judgement in the world today. Rant over lol.

  6. Wow, just learned something and I love that! I have definitely witnessed this, and of course, have been a bit guilty of it too! Thanks for this awareness. Raising happy and empathetic people is hard work! TY! #kcacols xoxo

  7. I think we are all very guilty of doing this - I do it regularly. Su #KCACOLS

  8. I think I'm a little bit guilty of doing this. I can totally relate to my toddler suddenly shouting 'poo head' in the doctors though. Sometimes I think she can sense when she knows I won't / am too embarrassed to tell her off. x #KCACOLS

  9. I never knew it was a thing but I guess I have done this from time to time. Mind you these days just getting the three kids to walk in the same direction round the supermarket is a miracle! #KCACOLS

  10. I did't know there was a proper term for this until I read your post but I've definitely been guilty of this in the past. In some ways it's better for me as it makes me a less shouty mum!! #KCACOLS

  11. I've never heard of this phrase before, but I can see how easily it's done. My little one is only 6 months old so I don't think I've done anything like this yet, but who knows what may happen in the future :) #Bloggersbest

  12. never heard of this before, very interesting! good post x

  13. Great post. I think I vary on this depending on my mood! ha. Sometimes I will act differently if my eldest plays up or sometimes I have yelled and dragged her down the road when she had a monster strop! It's really interesting though. Thanks for sharing with #bloggersbest x

  14. It's natural to act differently when you're in public and it's okay to parent differently when you're at home. There shouldn't be any guilt. Even at home, on different days I parent differently. If I'm shattered then my good old friend CBeebies will come out while I go for a shower to wake myself up. Then there are the times I've been out with my husband for the evening and the next day I feel on top of the world so I'll craft everything under the sun with my kids. It's all about the ebb and flow of parenthood. #bloggersbest x

  15. I'm not a parent myself (3 weeks to go!) and I've certainly seen/heard other parents doing this out in public! I never knew there was a term for it though! I guess we'll all secretly 'worried' about being judged about everyone in the world that we 'act' like the perfect parent when eyes and ears are on us! Although honestly we really shouldn't need that added pressure of parenthood, it's already tough enough!
    Much love, Caitylis x x

  16. I definitely know a few people like this! Thanks for a really good post!

  17. I had never heard of this term before,but have definitely seen a few performance parenters.

  18. My son has special needs so I've never felt like I had to performance parent in a way to showcase his abilities, more so to prove a point - if that makes sense. But I've hated myself for it, so now I don't bother! x

  19. I know quite a few people like this. Judgement from other people about my parenting has been so detrimental to my mental health so now I've gone the other way & given up caring about what anyone thinks. As long as my daughter is happy then thats all that matters xx

  20. I never knew this was a thing either although I did recognise many people I know in your description of it! #kcacols

  21. I have definitely been guilty of this in the past when Mia was very little, I would like to think I do less of it now as she would probably call me out on it! I think its another product of mum guilt and how people seem to think its perfectly acceptable to tell you how to parent your own child!


  22. I’d not heard of this term until now!! My little one is only 10 months old so it’s not something I can say I’ve been guilty of yet but I’m sure I will be at some point!!

  23. I'm not a parent or anything but I think it's so hard to not compare children with the development stages even though it's not particularly the parents fault. Children learn, grow and develop at their own paces whilst some may be slower that others that's not a bad thing :) xx

    Yasmina | The July Journal

  24. Oh my, I had never heard of performance parenting before this blog post! I don't do it myself - I'm just too straight up no matter where I am. I have seen other people doing it, you know, now that I think about it.

  25. I don't think I'm ever around enough people to be a performance parent. But if that's what people want to do I say let them. #kcacols

  26. I’ve never heard of this term before but I do think we’ve all been guilty of it! It’s ok to parent differently in front of people and at home. I think it’s only natural and we shouldn’t feel guilty! #KCACOLS

  27. I've never heard of this before but I don't think I'm guilty...I hope not anyway! #KCACOLS


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