Yet, in today's culture, when a child excels at something, people around them immediately blame the success on the fact that the parents "pushed" that child. Interestingly, this is almost never said about the parents of a child who is not excelling. My own parents were even accused of pushing me. I suppose, if expecting me to finish what I started (meaning I could not quit anything in the middle of a season or a set of lessons) is pushing; then I was pushed. If expecting me to give 100% effort with a good attitude while I was participating in an activity I had chosen, is pushing; then I was pushed. If expecting me to appreciate the sacrifices others made (in time, money, effort) in order for me to participate in my activities, is pushing; then I was pushed. If expecting me to display good sportsmanship above all else, is pushing; then I was pushed. From where I sit, though, my parents were merely building good character in me through their expectations. My athletic success did not come from these things.
Any kid will tell you, if they don't want to do something, they won't (at least, not long term). I didn't love soccer, so, while the parents of my friends were driving them to tryouts for travel teams, I continued to pick daisies and do cartwheels on the field, playing for my recreational team. I was "good" at soccer, but I didn't have any motivation at all to play any more than once a week for one season per year. It would not have mattered what my parents did or said, I would not have been capable of forcing myself, week after week, year after year, to take soccer more seriously and to spend more time getting better at it. Even if someone had tried to "push" me to practice more or play on a travel team, I was smart enough to know how poorly to run the drills or how many times to miss a goal, in order to not get picked for the team. Problem solved.
On the other hand, kids also know what they love and what makes them happy. For me as a kid, climbing was that thing. I knew I loved it within seconds of being on my first climbing wall. I loved it so much that I could climb for 3 or 4 hours and still want to climb more. My parents usually had to beg me to leave the gym. Sure, I sometimes cried during training when I was extremely frustrated with a problem I couldn't figure out. Other times, I argued with my parents when they reminded me to work on my endurance, because endurance was boring compared to bouldering (but was an important element in being a safe climber). And, still other times I complained when the hike to an outdoor climbing area was too long or too hot or the rock was too sharp. People might have seen my parents tell me to stop complaining, or to stop crying, and used that as "proof" I was being pushed. But I knew that my success was in my own hands. If I wanted to reach a goal I had set....win a competition, climb a difficult route, get the attention of sponsors... the only person who could do it was me. Like I said before, the only thing my parents did by expecting me to work hard and to have a good attitude no matter what I was doing, was build a strong character in me, which has served me well throughout my life. Reaching my goals, was up to me... and still is.
(NOTE: I know that child abuse exists and is a serious thing. My point for this post is to suggest that parental desire for success, or "pushing", is not the main driving force behind the success of any child in any activity. Child abuse is a very different topic.)