“Your kids require you most of all to love them for who they are, not to spend your whole time trying to correct them.”
― Bill Ayers (William Charles “Bill” Ayers is an American elementary education theorist).
Parenting is an extremely overwhelming experience for an individual, full of highs and lows. Each parent knowingly or unknowingly draws upon and consumes a lot of their creative, emotional, intuitive and intellectual resources to be a better parent. A question that bothers parents today is OVER-PARENTING! How do you realize as a parent when you cross that thin line and start over-parenting, over-structuring and over-controlling your child’s life.
Parenting is a natural skill that is not learnt, taught or followed. For each parent this natural ability to deal with his/her child goes through refinements over a period of time With every new experience had, lesson learnt, guilt borne, promises made to be better tomorrow, a parent evolves his/her parenting techniques, customized to meet his/her child’s needs and nature.
Parenting presents its own unique demands and expectations which are influenced sometimes by genetic, socio economic, psychological or other factors. But the larger common goal of parenting remains the same. And it is, to provide joys and happiness to children and prepare them for a future that is unknown, unpredictable yet full of hopes and promises.
So what is Over-parenting?
Simply put, parenting more than needed or required by/for a child, considering his age, stage of life, specific personality traits is what we can call over parenting. It can manifest itself in one or more of the following ways:
1. Over protective or excessive handholding
2. Over directive or micro managing aspects of child’s life
3. Excessive mollycoddling and instant gratification of child’s demands
Parents need to listen to their own inner voice guiding and telling them when it is time to step back a little and provide the space and opportunities that a child seeks to explore and enjoy. Parenting that keeps pace with the developmental milestones and needs of the child and changes/ adapts to it stays well within the right side of that thin line. Which of course is one tricky aspect for parents!
Why is over-parenting dangerous?
The perils of over-parenting are far overbearing in the later life of a child as an adult. With lesser opportunities of decision making, risk taking, failures, self-advocacy, planning, organizing, reflecting about own likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, over-parented kids often grow into adults ill-equipped to take on the heavy weights that real life has to offer.
Over-parenting and controlling behavior of the parents leads to children finding lesser opportunities to take decisions and face challenges on their own.
Following are the common problems that over-parented kids may face:
1. Poor decision making
2. Lack of self-advocacy skills
3. Fear from taking risks in life
4. Fear of failures
5. Poor levels of planning and organizing
6. Low motivation levels to take responsibilities
7. Poor self-connection
8. Lack of knowledge about personal strengths and weakness
9. Decline in natural creative abilities
10. Prone to anxiety and depression
According to a research at Johns Hopkins University, published in Child Psychiatry and Human Development in 2012 “Such children believe that they were less competent, and hence suffer from triggered increases in anxiety levels.” The same outcome was achieved from a separate study published in the Parenting: Science and Practice in 2013 which found that “the lower levels of autonomy along with controlling behaviors were found to be detrimental to social adjustment, a circumstance that may lead to behavioral or emotional issues such as anxiety.”
Times have changed with the advent of technology especially with both the parents joining the workforce. But a child’s need for their parent’s time, attention, love and trust still remains the same, even today. The deeper the connection between a child and a parent, the bleaker are the possibilities of over-parenting. The right amount of parenting makes childhood an eventful and happy preparation for later life.
After all, it is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.