Posted by Word Camel on March 29, 2002
In Reply to: Cry, the Beloved Adjective posted by Bob on March 28, 2002
: : : "Push parenting," a phrase from a review of "The Trouble with Perfect" by Dr. Elisabeth Guthrie (Broadway Books). "It's an unfortunate fallout of 'push parenting' that your high school student really can't take the SATs these days without taking some kind of preparatory course, Guthrie said." From The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.), March 28, 2002.
: : Why not "pushy parenting"? Would it be so hard to add the "y"? This sort of thing drives me nuts.
: I know it's *supposed* to drive me nuts... but I see a difference between the two. Subtle but perceptible. "Pushy" is a vivid perjorative, calling up images of whining, demanding, walk-over-others-because-I'm-Entitled power players. Pushy parenting would be about monster parents (of which there are a few...) But "push parenting" shifts the emphasis (maybe just in my mind) to the children, the victims of the crime, the pushees. The pushers may be over-ambitious over-schedulers, but perhaps with good intentions. They may believe everybody books up every available hour of a kid's week with lessons and appointments. In other words, they push (a parenting style), but they aren't pushy (a nasty character defect.)
it still bothers me - not just linguistically either. It reminds me of Derrida's "Difference" versus "DifferAnce". Jargon like this seems to imply some critical nuance but ultimately doesn't really contribute anything profound to our understanding. I would be willing to bet that for Elizabeth Guthrie "push parenting" is as negative as "pushy parenting". Whether she intends it or not, the implication is pretty clear. Parenting is not longer something done for children. It is something that is done to children. I only wish I could have benefitted* from some of the unfortunate fall out of push parenting that might have led to taking a preparatory course before I did my SAT's. In the end I had a stellar verbal score and a shockingly poor math score.
Or maybe I've just got sour grapes.
* This spelling is in deference to The Fallen.