10 Qualities of Teacup Parenting: Is Your Kid Too Fragile?

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We have all heard of helicopter parenting. You know, the kind of parents that are uber involved in every aspect of their child’s life and sort of buzz and run circles around them as they grow up.

I work with a lot of parents and kids, I hear from a lot of parents and kids, and I spend all day reading about parents and kids today. Something about the term helicopter parenting wasn’t fitting right with the kinds of questions and problems that parents and youth bring to me and talk about.

Teacup parenting is a much better fit. (You can also check out my four other types of teens today in this post.)

I do not want to offend anyone with this post, I am just simply stating a trend that I see in the parenting community. Some of the traits of teacup parenting are good, and some, in my opinion are a bit scary.

1. Cherished Possession

Like a teacup heirloom, children are often treated as their most cherished possession. This is great!

2. Teacups Break Easily

This one is not so good, many of the kids I mentor and went to school with can break at any moment. When they do not get their way, like do not get a class schedule they want or cannot get driven to a place they want to go they literally crumble.

3. Once It Gets Chipped, It Feels Ruined

Many members of my generation feel the need to be perfect all the time. When something bad happens or do not get a perfect grade, they feel unworthy, like a bad person and ruined. I wish this was not the case and realize that chips and smudges build character and we learn from them, they are not to displayed prominently or tarnish your character.

4. Want to Display a Beautiful Set

There is absolutely nothing wrong with parents who brag and talk about their kids, but recently I see parents putting their kids on display like they are going up for auction: “Carrie is applying to Harvard and Yale, she has a 4.2 GPA and a 90 percentile SAT score, she plays tennis in the Junior Olympics, any takers, anyone? going once, going twice…”

5. Want to be like the Others

Parents especially want their kids to fit in and be a perfect part of the family and uphold all of your values. This is not always the case. There is a lot of pressure on kids to not only succeed, but succeed in what their parents want them to do. We need to be different, we strive to be different, we do not fit into a set.

6. Only Feed it High Quality Tea

Again, not always a bad thing. But many parents are ob.sess.ed. with the idea of only high quality, organic, positive energy, luxury, natural foods and products on, in or near their kids. Unlike a teacup, we do not get stained when we eat a big mac, and many kids are now afraid of regular food and have developed all sorts of crazy food allergies because of it.

7. The Quality Reflects Your Taste and Status

Teacups or a tea set often reflects the owners taste and status depending on the price and style of the set. I know that kids reflect on their parents, but if we mess-up, we mess-up let us get a little dirty and wear mismatching clothes if we want to, it is our way of experimenting.

8. You Do Not Want It to Leave the Collection

I have known parents to move to their kid’s college town or take an apartment off-campus for visiting times. Unlike a teacup, we need to leave the home permanently (some parents are looking forward to this day!)

9. Must Be Very Delicate with It

We fall, we get in trouble, we lose sports games we feel general ickiness. You cannot–and should not protect us from this. We need to feel those bumps so that when we grow up we do not fall apart at the first curve in the road.

10. All Teacups Have Essentially the Same Function

A teacup, although it can have all different designs and styles, is essentially just used to drink tea. Kids on the other hand do not all grow up to be mommies and daddies. I am now 23 and oh my goodness I cannot believe that some of my friends are deciding to get married and have kids (freak out!), but some others have decided they really do not want to have a family and are getting a lot of grief from their parents. We might lead a different kind of life than you and I hope this is ok.

Not everyone is a teacup parent. Are you? Do you know any teacup parents?

If you like this article, read our other Radical Parenting Articles.  If you are really inspired, think about taking the Radical Parenting Pledge..are you radical enough?

13 Responses to “10 Qualities of Teacup Parenting: Is Your Kid Too Fragile?”

  1. Tim
    June 19, 2008 at 5:11 am #

    This is fabulous. Years ago, Gary Smalley did a series of called “Seven Keys to Successful Parenting.” It was good, and helped me understand the need to treat my child as something of value. The example he used in his classes was to keep several expensive things on a table in the front of the room, and note how carefully people handled those things between sessions.

    Unfortunately, as you point out, when we treat our children like a fine painting that we’re proud of, and brag about it, we’re not really honoring the painting–we’re honoring how smart we are for having such a thing in our possession. And that, right there, is the core of what you’ve stated above. Teacups and paintings are possessions, but children aren’t.

    The sooner we can get our heads wrapped around that truth, but still demonstrate to our child (and to the world) that we value them, the better. – Tim

  2. Shari Schmidt
    June 20, 2008 at 9:29 am #

    I love this. To many people treat their children like possessions to be paraded about. I teach some of these young adults when they get to college. It’s hard to think about what will happen to them when Mom & Dad ship them out to the real world.

  3. simone
    June 20, 2008 at 9:32 am #

    this is a nice site…i have some good news…nbc…has this new cool show called Baby Borrowers and I got a sneak peak of that show and I would recommend all the mom’s have their teens watch that show and I promise that they will not be getting pregnant anytime soon…!!! :)

  4. Leah
    June 21, 2008 at 6:31 am #

    Great article and very true. For ten others see “Parent Tips” at the website. Readers may be especially interested in “Ten Ways to Raise Children to USE Drugs,” and “The ABC’s of Parenting.”

  5. Leah
    June 21, 2008 at 6:33 am #

    The Website site is kellybear.com for the above articles

  6. Britax Boulevard CS
    May 18, 2009 at 10:34 pm #

    I think that there is no best way of parenting in this world. But we can make a difference by doing simple things or actions that will make our children feel that no matter what happens, we will be always at their side.

  7. Vanessa Van Petten
    May 25, 2009 at 9:59 am #

    so true!


  8. Mama Ellen
    February 23, 2010 at 7:37 am #

    Great Vanessa! It’s true that tea cupping is different from helicoptering and both of these overinvolved styles of parenting are damaging. I have a couple more points to add to the ones you brought up. First of all, children are human beings with their own ideas, thoughts, feelings, dreams and aspirations. They cannot be OWNED, collected, programmed or carted out as trophies in order to enhance the egos of their parents. Our job is to help them to become independent and reach adulthood in one piece. It’s a funny mix of holding on and letting go. If we do our job right, at the end of the day they will love and respect us rather than feeling dependent, insecure or scared of the world. At MamasOnCall.com we help you find that balance with humor, compassion and good advice. Come for a visit.

  9. WhiteRabbit
    January 20, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

    “Anti-Racists” say whites must accept “Diversity” of immigration.
    “Anti-Racists” say whites must accept “Diversity” into white communities.
    “Anti-Racists” say there is still the problem of white flight.
    “Anti-Racists” say “Diversity” means chasing down the last white person.
    “Anti-Racists” are ready to demand a “Fugitive Whites Act”

    “Diversity” is a codeword for White Genocide.
    “Anti-racist” is a codeword for anti-white


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