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Home > Blog > The Big Business of Alpha Moming
Out of Our Minds
Thursday, June 16, 2005 11:11 AM
The Big Business of Alpha Moming
Anita Sharpe on Culture

We all know a few -- super achievers who quit high-powered careers and turn their kids into resume-worthy full-time occupations. Isabel Kallman, profiled in New York magazine, took it a step further. She launched a 24-hour cable network -- actually called 'Alpha Mom' -- so fellow perfectionist parents are never left to their own instincts in their quest to create children who are all above average. My bet is the network will be a huge success -- another example of an idea that seems so obvious in hindsight. A bit creepy, but obvious.


Gary - 6/17/2005 8:16:32 AM
There is another side to Coley's tale. My parents never really pushed me to do or be anything. They just wanted me to be happy and supported me in whatever I did.
Unfortunately, I seem to have a natural lazy gene: the end result being that I've just tumbled through life from job to job with no real direction.

Though I'm glad my parents weren't like those at the swimteam, I do think that I would have benefited from more pushing than I actually got.
Curt Rosengren - 6/16/2005 3:48:15 PM
Amen to that, Coley. I work with clients all the time whose perfectionist drive (instilled by their parents) is still getting in the way of happiness and satisfaction, both with their lives and themselves.
Coley - 6/16/2005 2:08:27 PM
I think it's so sad when parents put so much pressure on their children to be perfect. As a former year-round age-group swim coach (my kids were ages 8-13)I got a good look at how obsessed some parents can get with having the 'perfect' child.

One of my girls was 11-years-old, a straight A student, and one of the best swimmers on the nationally ranked team. Yet she seemed feel she was NEVER good enough. One day, after she swam a regional championships qualifying time in practice (quite the accomplishment at that age in swimming) she started balling her eyes out. I pulled her out to talk to her and see what was wrong. This 11-year-old child looked at me and said 'my dad must be right that I'm too fat to swim fast. I'm never going to go to get an Olympic gold medal and he's going to hate me.' Her statement brought me to tears.

Another child, a ten-year-old boy in my group, was ranked in the top-16 in the country in his age group. Another straight-A student, his mom would come to practice everyday and walk up and down the pool with him, telling him to 'swim faster' and screaming at him during rest periods that he's 'a slacker' and 'never going to be great.' She would make comments to me about his schoolwork slacking and how was he ever going to get a 'full ride to Stanford.' Every day we would make her leave the deck, and every day she would be right back driving her son to perfection.

These children may have been accomplishing great things and building a great 'resume,' but at what cost?

I feel so lucky that I have parents who let me participate in the activities I loved and chose, go to the college of my choice, and never once said a word about me not having perfect grades. You know the result? Without that pressure they ended up with a daughter who swam on a Division I swim team in college, got straight A's her first semester away, and is now working at a job SHE loves and is passionate about.

And unlike the children with parents who want to live vicariously through their perfectionsim, there was no personal cost to me.


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