London - It is what many a child forced to endure endless tennis, piano and acting lessons has long suspected.
Pushy parents who go to great lengths to make their children succeed are attempting to make up for their own failed dreams, say psychologists.
The more a mother or father sees of themselves in their child, the more likely they are to resolve their own feelings of “regret and disappointment”.
“Some parents see their children as extensions of themselves, rather than as separate people with their own hopes and dreams,” said study co-author Professor Brad Bushman, of Ohio State University.
“These parents may be most likely to want their children to achieve the dreams that they themselves have not achieved.”
Researchers claimed parents found “pleasure and meaning” by living vicariously through their offspring.
“Basking in children’s reflected glory, parents’ feelings of regret and disappointment about their own lost opportunities may gradually resolve, and make way for pride and fulfilment,” they said.
The theory could hold some truth for Andy Murray, whose tennis career has eclipsed that of his mother.
After coaching him during the early stages of his career, Judy Murray – a former professional player – is often filmed egging her son on and celebrating his victories from the sidelines.
The study, published in the journal Public Library of Science ONE, was carried out at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
Eight fathers and 65 mothers of children aged between eight and 15 were asked to complete a test to measure how much they saw their child as a part of themselves.
Parents who felt strongly that they did were more likely to want their offspring to fulfil their own lost dreams, such as writing a novel or starting a successful business.
Professor Bushman added: “Parents then may bask in the reflected glory of their children, and lose some of the feelings of regret and disappointment that they couldn’t achieve these same goals.” However, children may also struggle to establish their own autonomy under this parenting approach. - Daily Mail