Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Curling parents

Last night, on Swedish television, a new programme aired. Called 'Young and Spoiled', it is a reality show about a group of young people who are very spoiled by their parents. The programme could easily have been called 'Spoilt Rotten'. These 'kids' are aged between 18 & 24, and have never worked a day in their lives. They are put into a house together to see how they manage fundamentals such as cooking, cleaning and getting up to go to work. Of course, they don't. And therein lies the entertainment.

I was fascinated less by the kids and more by the parents. Misguided adults who don't see that they are doing their offspring no favours in life by pandering to their every whim.

In Swedish, because it is so common, there is a word for these type of parents. They are known as 'curling parents' - a reference to the Olympic sport of ice curling. Just like in the icy sport, curling parents smooth the way for their children. They sweep away any obstacles and make life easier. They think they are taking their role as a parent seriously. Life is so difficult anyway that they should try to cushion the blows for their,let's face it, grown up children. But what they're really doing is robbing their children of the chance to develop essential life skills and feel a sense of personal responsibility and achievement.

As far as I know, there is no equivalent word in English for 'curling parents'.

This must be because they don't exist in the UK. Right?


  1. A Swedish show or the one that aired on BBC3 a few months ago? It was cringeworthy and a half to watch a bunch of young adults being totally inept at ... well, everything. Whatever happened to parents enforcing child labour, i.e. household chores? They learn life skills while you have somebody to clean the bathroom for you.

    Isn't curling parents what the Americans call "soccer moms"? I think curling parents is a better term, simply from the description you gave. :)

  2. Hi! No, soccer moms are simply parents that chaffeur their kids to sports practice and events. Not the same as curling for the kids!

  3. THey're called helicopter parents in English.

    Grey N

  4. This commenter has heard of such people and is a parent to boot. Swedish too. Thanks for the read, got me fired up enough to write a reply.

    To anyone who's actually seen the icy sport named curling this is a especially horrible metaphor, wouldn't you agree? The ice is already clear of obstacles. Maximum distance also isn't the point of the game as overshooting is loosing. The curling team leads the inanimate thing to the right distance by being present and responding to current events. For the record I' a huge fan of the metaphor of life being antifragile so nuances are in order to this argument.

    So, what's the opposite? Well, they'd have to just push the 'thing' over the ice and hope for the best. If you miss your mark, make another toss! It's all in the wrist, man.

    Excuse my furor, I'm allergic to butchered metaphors. Perhaps especially Danish ones. With a footing in social constructivism. That neglects to consider the fundamentals of how we learn things. Not the authors retelling mind you, the original. Recently had a discussion about this, your retelling is the prevailing one.

    Clearly kids are independent agents with free will, to a largish extent. As such they shouldn't be robbed of experiencing cause and effect. To be causes and to experience the consequences when the lag time is short enough so the connection can grasped clearly. Tinkering in short. If the 'thing' in curling was such an agent and able to essentially sweep the track while in motion the team would count on this fact and interfere as little as possible, no?

    To me a curling parent is a very positive metaphor all else being equal and closer to the actual game. For one, it requires attention, leadership, strategy, a goal, good teamwork and it looks like the players are having a good time. Probably more so than the people watching.