The Fallacy of Benchmark Parenting

Updated: Feb 12

I would consider parenting its own helix sport.

What are Helix Sports?

The type of sports where progress is individualized. Helix sports provide a platform where each participant searches to create a new relationship with themselves; enduring pain and risk at varying degrees to achieve personal goals*.

Sounds like traditional sports to me.

Not really. Helix sports de-emphasizes rules, regulations and the programmed constraint of traditional sports. In other words, free from “expert” micro-management*.

In a helix sport, the concept of predestination is irrelevant*. The focus is on learning, iteration and progress, by your own definition.

There are rules to good parenting, I’ve read about them.

You can read all the books and attend all the seminars. Still, it doesn’t take long to realize that no child is exactly like another. There is no reliable map to tell you all you need to do to raise your specific child to be well-adjusted and equipped for life, which is why the helix sport analogy works so well.

As a parent you are constantly learning, iterating and progressing by your own and your family’s definition.

Modern schooling has enforced this notion of centralization and standardization of children, distilling child-rearing to a summary of best-guesses built on averages*. Which leaves a rather wide margin for error if we think about how we relate our child’s individuality to an abstract benchmark.

What’s so wrong with wanting my child’s development to coincide with the benchmark?

Well, all pedagogical theory is based on “stage theories “of human development*. All stage theories reference children in averages. No specific child represents that average benchmark.

That benchmark is an amalgamation of individual milestones, personal successes and setbacks, reduced to a singular, quantitative metric. There is a lot of nuance and individualization that gets swept away in an average representation. Which I would argue is problematic when evaluating human growth and development.


Our lives are stories unwritten and personal. While society might try and enforce expectations that pressure us to strive towards collective milestones, lived experiences are individual, not collective; personal and unswayed by the societal standards with which you may be judging yourself.

If nothing else, striving towards the benchmark, or finding yourself way beyond it, is a great recipe to trigger inferiority and superiority complexes rife with anxiety and insecurity. All the while, you are competing with a figment of the collective’s imagination, since average Joe & Jane never existed.

If you don’t agree with the benchmark, what’s