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"'Concierge parents' are ruining teachers' lives and oh crap... I just realised I am one."

Move over snowplough parenting; there’s a new breed of parent in town – the ‘concierge parent’. And, according to the definition, I am one.

This week, principal of St Catherine’s School in Waverley, Julie Townsend, told The Sydney Morning Herald that concierge parents are typically defined as those who “are there at a little desk waiting for any problems” before they “sort them out” for the offspring.

In other words, a concierge parent simply awaits issues, and then promptly responds to them in a calm manner to prevent consequences for their kids. (This is different to a ‘snowplough parent’, in that this type of parent bulldozes any obstacles in their child’s way.)

Mamamia spoke to David Gillespie, author of Teen Brain, a lawyer, and father-of-six, to find out more, who further explained that concierge parenting is “something parents do to remove all negative natural consequences for a child, which is unhelpful as natural consequences are the most effective way anyone can learn anything.”

WATCH: Holly Wainwright explains parental equality. Post continues after.

Gillespie added that concierge parenting is risky because, “saying no to a child has a benefit.”

“It means the parent is more in control of what’s going on. And it means the child is more used to being told no.”

In Gillespie’s opinion, “the most important thing you can say to a child is no. It doesn’t have to be no all the time, it just means that when you say no they know mean it.

“And the problem with concierge parenting is that you never say no.”

And so, my friends, I’ve realised I’ve been doing some concierge parenting.

You see, up until very recently, I would write notes to my son’s teachers with excuses as to why he hadn’t completed all of his homework, almost every week. (Please relax, most of it would get done.)

Here’s my defence: last year, I began a full time job in a brand new industry, in a brand new city, and as a sole parent. So each night after work, the last thing I’d want to do is battle with my son about maths and comprehension (but really, just maths).

Nama and her son. Image: Supplied.
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So every Thursday night, I would write a note saying, "Sorry we couldn't finish some of the homework this week, we were too busy."

Let's face it, the teachers knew (because I admitted it at some point) we were not 'busy', but that I just didn't have the fight in me on some nights.

They knew my note was a desperate plea to be excused from long division. And they knew, because of my parental guilt, I thought I should take the fall for that - and shield my kid from the consequences of presenting unfinished work.

Judge me all you like. I've been judging myself for it - even more since I learned this behaviour had a name.

Of course, there are parents for whom concierge parenting is a way of life. Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, both of whom allegedly bribed college admission and academic successful for their daughters, might be the most high-profile recent example.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, concierge parents further account for "maybe 10 per cent of families. But they take up 90 per cent of your time."

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So I asked Gillespie why parents practice concierge parenting.

"This is the most child-centric parenting has ever been," he explained. "We've seen a real shift over the decades to parents ensuring their child's comfort and immediate gratification is the priority."

Gillespie shared that apart from concierge parenting being bad for families, it also has terrible consequences for educators.

"It means schools are operating defensively," he said. "Teachers are worried there's going to be parent in the office by the end of the day, because their child has been made to suffer a natural consequence. So, they're more likely to put up with bad behaviour."

For parents (much like me) who struggle to break some concierge parenting habits, Gillespie had some excellent advice.

"Think of what's at stake, beyond your child's immediate gratification," he suggested. "Truly examine why you're making a choice, then choose your battles, say no to the important things.

"And remember that nothing works all the time - so don't be too hard on yourself."

What do you think of concierge parenting? Tell us in the comments below.

If you'd like to hear more from Nama Winston, see her stories here, and subscribe to her weekly Mamamia Parents newsletter here.

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