Being a controlling parent is a very common mistake that parents make. They will give up sleep, sacrifice money, and carve out time, but giving up control? Much harder to do.
In his book, 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid, author Tim Elmore talks about the importance of parents not doing too much for their kids, taking control of situations that should be left to the kids. This week I will address #11 of a 12-part series on parenting mistakes. Here are the first eight:
- Mistake #1: Parents not letting their kids fail
- Mistake #2: Parents project their lives on their children
- Mistake #3: Putting too much emphasis on being happy
- Mistake #4: Inconsistency
- Mistake #5: Rescuing Children
- Mistake #6: Too Much Praise
- Mistake #7: Skipping the Struggle
- Mistake #8: Over-parenting
- Mistake #9: Praising the Wrong Things
- Mistake #10: Preventing all Pain
Mistake #11: Being a Controlling Parent
Parents doing their kids’ homework?
Parents ruining Easter egg hunts because they are grabbing eggs for their kids?
Unfortunately, even though these scenarios are laughable, they are very real–a sad picture of the extent to which parents will go to make sure all goes well for their kids.
You may say, I would never trample over kids at an Easter egg hunt or even take over my kids’ homework. No, probably not. But parents often do other things, some of them very small and seemingly insignificant:
- pick up their clothes
- fill out forms for them that they can do themselves
- put away their toys
- call teachers/coaches to “explain” your child’s behavior
- resolve your child’s conflicts with their friends
- reschedule appointments when they accidentally double-book
There are numerous ways that parents clean up after their children. The kids may love Mom and Dad today for doing so much for them, but will they feel the same way when they’re 30 years old and are still trying out how to get through life?
Parents who do too much for their children can expect:
- kids who grow up lazy and unmotivated
- kids who don’t reach their potential
A perfect example of controlling parents is seen in the recent stories of parents in the college admissions scandals who bought their kids’ way into college. Sure, they may have been trying to “help” their young adults, but they were obviously hurting them, and themselves in the process.
When parents are tempted to step in and help their kids, they may be doing it to relieve momentary stress, but in all honesty, they are setting them up to fail in the end.
How many times have you been tempted to “step in?” Have you talked to your child’s coach when they aren’t getting playing time? Asked a teacher to help your child when they aren’t doing good in school? (young children may need some help here, but middle and high schoolers should take this on themselves) Interfered in a friend conflict for your child?
I’m still tempted to “step in”, especially when it comes to my youngest who is now 26. But I’ve learned that my interference is the last thing she needs. We tried to train her to fight her own battles and now she’s practicing that on her own.
Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a coach, a youth pastor, a school administrator, or even an employer, your greatest responsibility to the future is to prepare your kids today to be responsible adults and leaders as they grow up. (Author) Susan Peters once said, “Children have a much better chance of growing up if their parents have done so first.”
A child’s strength and self-esteem rise, not by mere words, but when parents are loving and demanding. They love by encouraging, believing, and supporting their kids. They demand by setting standards and holding kids accountable to them.
Read more about this in Elmore’s book. I am not receiving any payment for saying this; I just believe it’s a very good read.