Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 7 December 2019

'Actually, there was one little argument...': How to spot a Jellyfish Parent and the 4 other parent tribes of 2019

Tiger Mums, step aside, here are the new types of parent tribes you’ll find lurking in school hallways

Duck Parents may act like everything is no big deal, but really they are paddling furiously to ensure their child succeeds. Getty Images
Duck Parents may act like everything is no big deal, but really they are paddling furiously to ensure their child succeeds. Getty Images

You might like to think you’re *adopts Mean Girls voice* “Not like a regular mum, I’m a cool mum”, but – spoiler alert – even that’s a type. They’re called The In-Denial-About-Being-A-Parent Parent, and these days there are plenty more tribes emerging among your traditional Tiger Mums and Helicopter Parents…

The Duck Parents

“Oh, he’s barely touched a ball before in his life,” the Duck Parent says with a smile, as their child executes a Ronaldo-style flip past four players to score a goal that would leave Messi in the dust.

“Spelling practice words? My daughter never looks at them. I usually just put them through a shredder and use the scraps to line the hamster cage,” the Duck Parent shrugs as their child gets accepted to read English at Oxford University aged 10 (you get the idea).

Once recognisable as the Tiger Mum, when it became uncool to publicly put so much effort into your child the tribe evolved into Duck Parents, named after their duck-like quality of projecting serenity on the surface while paddling furiously beneath the water to make everything look effortless.

There’s one rule when dealing with the Duck Parent: do not believe a word that comes out of their mouths when it comes to their kids. None of this happened effortlessly. You can guarantee their little one is practising for 10 hours a day (12 on a Saturday) just so Duck Parent can say: “We just stuck the piano in the corner of the living room and the next thing you know she’d written a concerto in D Minor.”

The Rules Do Not Apply Parents

The Rules Do Not Apply Parents are easily identifiable by the contents of their child’s lunch box, which will contain one or all of the following: a packet of Oreos, a Big Mac left over from dinner the night before, a can of Monster Energy, a Chupa Chup lollipop and cake (any variety).

Interestingly, The Rules Do Not Apply Parents can be difficult to spot as they tend to drop their kids off at the school gates around 10.30am and collect them at 8pm, so you’ll likely only bump into them if you’ve slotted in a morning dentist appointment for your child and are bringing them in late yourself.

The Rules Do Not Apply Parents will permanently act as if their little one was randomly left on their doorstep at 10pm last night and they learnt everything about child-rearing by pulling an all-nighter of back-to-back Logan Paul videos on YouTube.

The Jellyfish Parents

A close relation to the humblebragger, Jellyfish Parents are adept at the art of throwing stinging shade so subtle you won’t know you’ve been struck until you climb into bed later that night.

“Indira had a lovely time with us today,” they say when you pick your child up from the play date. Awww, that’s nice, you’ll think, demonstrating the same lack of guile a lamb might show to a wolf asking them to dinner. “Actually, I tell a lie, there was one little argument,” the Jellyfish Parent mentions casually, as if the thought had only just occurred to them and they hadn’t been sitting by the door for the past two hours waiting for you to arrive.

“It was when they were playing chess, because Olivia knows the rules and Indira doesn’t.” Cue: Chrissy Teigen at the 72nd Golden Globes meme face and a niggling feeling that you’re failing as a parent because your child hasn’t yet mastered the Budapest Gambit.

The Parents of a Genius

You can identify The Parents of a Genius by their liberal use of the word “advanced”, which will pepper any conversation about their child. Sorry, did I say “conversation”? I meant monologue.

Their child begins by being “advanced” at potty training and crayon holding. By the end of nursery, The Parents of a Genius will let you know their child can discuss the merits of symbolism and societal values in Julia Donaldson’s What the Ladybird Heard. At school, they become “advanced” at reading, maths and quantum physics.

If the head teacher is off sick, The Parents of a Genius might suggest their offspring step in and polish off that report for the education board before re-evaluating the coursework for years one through nine.

Find The Parents of a Genius in their favoured natural habitat: blocking the classroom door and monopolising the teacher’s time at drop-off and pick-up, asking loudly why their child has been given a copy of Spot Goes to the Beach to read as opposed to Kafka’s The Trial.

The Bake Sale Parents

“Children are invited to make cakes at home and bring them in for the bake sale to earn house points for their efforts,” reads the school email.

A quick run of that email through the Bake Sale Parents’ I-Parent-So-Hard Translator™, and it now reads: “Parents are invited to participate aggressively in The Great UAE Bake Off, demonstrating Michelin levels of expertise while still having the audacity to pass the work off as their child’s.”

When the heart-thudding, pulse-skittering lure of extra house points is on offer, no assignment is too small for The Bake Sale Parents to turn into a Burj Khalifa-sized engineering project, complete with blueprints, recruitment of external experts, attempted bribery of teaching assistants and, if all else fails, a Watergate-style break-in to the school filing system to ascertain if their five-tiered, royal iced, chocolate ganache and gold leaf-filled replica of the school sports hall is better than the cake that won the most house points last year.

Updated: November 17, 2019 10:09 AM

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