Updated: Aug 28
It's no secret that we're living in a society obsessed with parenting. Reading books on parenting, watching videos about how to raise your kids, and joining online forums about parenting. And with every article and forum post comes a different opinion on the best way to parent. As long as you're not hitting your child or leaving them unattended in the middle of some fast-moving traffic, there is likely someone out there who will tell you what they think of what you are doing as a parent.
And it seems that we never stop talking about this topic. If a person hasn't read a parenting book, read a blog, or go online to discuss their experiences with parenting then they are likely living under a rock. We can't seem to get enough of this subject.
But, are we overdoing it? Are we over-parenting our children?
What is "over-parenting"?
According to Psychology Today, over-parenting is " when parents focus on children's emotions, problems and self-esteem to an extreme extent." They go on to say that over-parenting is characterized by 6 things:
An excessive concern for the child's feelings.
An overly intense involvement in the child's activities.
An overemphasis on achievements and performance.
A reluctance to expose your child to failure or other negative experiences. Overprotectiveness.
A sense of entitlement in your child, as if they are owed something by you and others because they are special or performed at a high level.
Demanding success from your child.
There's no denying that as a society we are very concerned with parenting. We talk about it all day long and there is always a new article or blog post to read. But while we are one of the most over-parenting societies in the world, is it beneficial? Or is it unproductive?
Impact of over-parenting on children
Whatever position you take as a parent, there are many benefits to either over-parenting or under-parenting. It all depends on your personal goals and values. But here are some of the ways over-parenting can impact your child:
1. Over-parenting makes children dependent on us for everything:
When we become excessively engaged with our children we don't allow them to be independent children. We become their entire world so they can't function without us. And once we become overly-invested in your child it's very difficult to let them go.
2. Over-parenting causes children to feel inadequate:
It is no secret that parents want their kids to succeed, but does this end up causing ineffective behavior? We know that children have a hard time separating from their parents so playing "super-coach" to your child's team may be detrimental for them. And giving our children constant feedback about their performance may actually make them feel inadequate.
3. Over-parenting doesn't allow your child to experience things on their own:
There's no escaping the digital era, and that can make it difficult for kids to experience the world outside of an electronic screen. When you are over-parenting your child, you are controlling his or her access to the things most parents don't want their kids to see. This ultimately makes them dependent on you and may cause them to act out.
4. Over-parenting disconnects us from our kids:
Because kids have been raised to be so dependent on us, we end up disconnecting from them. When it comes to a major event in their lives, children might not feel that they can turn to us for support. This can make them feel as if we are no longer there for them. And though it's common for parents and children to grow apart as they become adults, this distance can cause extreme feelings of loss which may be hard to overcome.
5. Over-parenting doesn't promote independence:
We all know that childhood is a great time in human history because it's when we learn how to function on our own without anyone's help. But when we are over-parenting our children, we are preventing them from learning how to do what they need for themselves. This can make it difficult for them to live without us, and cause them to feel as if they have no control over their lives.
How can you be "over-parent"?
Over-parenting can take many forms so it's important that you know what forms it might take in your own family. Here are some of the ways that you may be "over-parenting":
1. You're trying too hard to make your child happy:
Our children want us to make them happy, but do we really know what will make them happy? Only they know what makes them happy, yet so many parents try to suppress their children's emotions and try to force happiness into them. But happiness is not something that can be forced, and when you are trying to force happiness you are likely overdependent, over-intrusive, or over-stimulating your kids.
2. You're over-intrusive in your children's activities:
Many parents mis-understand that they should be involved with their children's activities, but in reality they should only involve themselves if there is a certain level of maturity required. The real problem occurs when we take too many things away from our children and expect them to be okay by their own means. They may not have the maturity to do what you want them to do, and this can cause strife between you and your children.
3. You reward your child for bad behavior:
Children are very emotional creatures and that means that they often don't know when something is appropriate or inappropriate behavior. So if they do something that isn't what you expected, it may be best to avoid rewarding them for it and let them learn through their own mistakes.
4. You don't allow your child to fail:
It's important to let your children experience failure so that they can understand the concept of being a "failure". Encouraging them to reach for their goals without fail will cause them to become bored, depressed, over-critical, and possibly even depressed. But when you don't allow your child's failures then you are telling him or her that it is okay not to try their best and just give up on things. And this is the exact opposite of what we want in kids!
5. You make your children over-committed to their activities:
There are many things that kids are not supposed to be over-committed to, but sport and music are two great examples. In school, it is not an issue for our kids to be over-committed, because they are already being over-committed by the teachers, but at home when you want them to play a sport or sing for you it's not okay. When we force our kids into becoming too invested in something then we're making them dependent on us and will eventually create an unfaithful adult.
How to resist yourself from being an "over-parent"?
It's important to be honest with ourselves when deciding if we are over-parenting our children. Being able to resist bad behavior is a great way to help yourself resist being an "over-parent". When you are able to control your own bad behavior then you will feel better about controlling the bad behavior of your child. Some ways to reduce the urge to over-parent include:
1. Recognize where your behavior comes from:
Like most things, how you are over-parenting your child is influenced by where your motivation to do so came from. At the root of almost every bad behavior there is a good reason behind it, and when we can recognize this then we can stop being a direct cause of the bad behavior. It is important to find out why you are trying to control your child, and most of the time it will have something to do with what you want for yourself, rather than what's best for them!
2. Be honest with yourself:
It is important to be honest with yourself and understand when you are over-parenting your child. It will be very difficult to do this unless you are being honest with yourself, so try starting off with a simple exercise. All you need to do is go on a walk around your neighborhood and see if anyone thinks that you are over-parenting your child. If this does happen then it's time for some serious self-reflection!
3. Know what's really good for them:
When we know what is really good for our children we can focus on that instead of the things that we think will make them happy, because we will know that their happiness is more important than ours. This means that we should only do what is good for our children and not necessarily what's good for us.
4. Focus on their maturity:
When we look at what is best for our children then it's important to focus on their maturity level and not their age, because they're not always old enough or mature enough to do what we think they should be able to do. When you are over-parenting your child then it's important to realize that this is a result of your own emotions being clouded by them, and it means that you need to get more emotionally mature before you can become a better parent.
When it comes to correcting your own bad parenting habits, you should focus on improving yourself rather than your child. It's really important that you start feeling more comfortable with yourself when it comes to parenting because this will make you much more tolerable at home. The best way to do this is to start with a simple walk around the neighborhood, and if anyone notices how over-involved you are with your child then it's time for some serious self-reflection! When we focus on making ourselves emotionally mature then most of our over-parenting issues will go away, and we'll finally be able to give our children what they deserve!