After working with parents for many years, I’ve observed that one of the pitfalls parents fall into is over-parenting. Call it helicopter parenting, lawnmower parenting, or even over-involved–the bottom line is that those parents feel a need to step in and maintain some sort of control.
Not me! You may say. But let’s take a minute to evaluate that. Look over this list and if you find yourself doing even one of them, you are on the track towards over-parenting.
1. You fight your child’s battles by confronting the coach or teacher. If your child is unhappy with their playing time or doesn’t like the position they are playing, let them talk to the coach. If your child is struggling in a subject, encourage them to tell the teacher, with or without you being there.
2. You are quick to take your child out of situations that are hard. If your child is in an unhealthy situation, then by all means find a better environment, but switching every time your child is unhappy with their situation teaches them to constantly run away from problems instead of facing them.
3. You bail them out every time they forget something: their shoes for practice, their lunch, their homework. Don’t give in to the temptation to do their homework for them or help them a little too much. Let your kids find their own solutions.
4. You fail to see that your child is at fault, and look for others to blame. Coaches, teachers, and other kids are easy scapegoats for parents who don’t like to see their kids’ imperfections or admit that their kids might not be the studs they perceive them to be.
5. You join your child’s rants about bad coaching, mean teachers, or selfish friends instead of helping them cope with the situation rationally, and find resolutions that will make the situation better.
6. Your empathetic listening turns into a refusal to say anything that would upset your child. There is a time to shut up and there is a time to speak the truth in love. Sometimes your child needs to you to be honest. “Why do you think you got a bad grade on that test? Might it have something to do with the fact that you didn’t study enough?”
7. You intervene with coaches or teachers on your child’s behalf, begging for mercy when their grades aren’t up to par, or when they break a rule. Let them suffer the consequences of their choices; that’s the only way they will really learn a hard lesson.
8. You interfere in friend squabbles, thinking you are helping to solve the problem when actually you are probably making it worse. Let your child work through their own friendship hassles with your sideline support.
9. Your love and guidance turn into hovering and over-controlling, causing you to morph into a dysfunctional “agent” for your child. Don’t force your vision for your child’s future on them; let them figure it out.
10. You try to protect your child from all disappointment, when in fact they can probably handle it better than you think. No parent wants a child to face setbacks or defeat, but life will always deal unfair blows and your child needs to learn how to handle failures and defeats.
No parent likes to admit that they are over-parenting, but for the sake of your child’s mental health and future development, please be honest with yourself. If you feel you are struggling with this, please schedule a free consultation here.