With the lockdown of 2020 ensnaring us in a loop of constant worry and unpredictability, parenting took a whole new turn. And the wave it brought in the parenting sphere continues to make its presence felt as we roll into 2021.
Though it’s true as parents, you try your best to nurture and care for your children; sometimes, it gets all too easy to go a little overboard. Something that happened quite commonly in the early phases of the lockdown, leading to what experts like to call ‘helicopter parenting’ or simply over-parenting (1).
Let’s find out what over-parenting is and if you’re guilty of it!
What Is Over-Parenting?
Tough time as it was, the lockdown had its own set of silver linings. It brought families closer and gave many the chance to discover new passions and hobbies. Including the kids, whom we soon found out were quite capable of taking care of themselves — whether it was their studies or household chores.
This newfound sense of responsibility in the kids served as a good reminder to parents that as time passes by, the rules of parenting must change as well. After all, it’s not possible to parent your 15-year-old the same way you did when they were 5. Sadly, sometimes the change of rules leads to over-parenting.
Chris Segrin, a researcher at the University of Arizona, defines over-parenting as the application of “developmentally inappropriate” parenting on a child (2). He further defines “developmentally inappropriate” parenting as doing things for the child that they could easily do on their own.
This could lead to lesser autonomy for the child and greater control on the parts of the parents. A situation of friction can cause the infamous “moody teenager” to show their face on more than one occasion.
Now that you know what over-parenting is, the question arises — are you guilty of it?
The Signs Of Over-Parenting
Over-parenting can manifest itself in many ways. Often without you realizing you’re indulging in it. Hence, it’s important to know the tell-tale signs of over-parenting so you can nip it in the bud. Here are some major signs to look for:
- Keeping tabs on your kids all the time
In today’s technologically advanced world, it’s become all too easy to track your kids’ whereabouts. However, monitoring every small move your child makes and not giving them enough breathing space to be on their own is a classic sign of over-parenting (3).
- Choosing your child’s extracurricular activities and friends
By picking and choosing which extracurricular activity your child should pursue, you end up ignoring their own passions and interests. Choosing their friends for them also undermines their ability to make the right decisions for themselves.
- Doing all their homework and chores for them
In their growing up years, kids need to learn how to fend for themselves. When you end up doing their homework, their science projects, as well as their household chores, you do not give them the opportunity to grow and be responsible.
- Throwing parental tantrums
This could be anything — from arguing with your child’s school teachers when they don’t get a good grade to having a screaming match with their sport’s coach when they don’t pick your kid for a match.
How To Overcome Over-Parenting
As you can see from the signs listed above, over-parenting encompasses over-involvement in every sphere of your child’s life. Over-burdening with your own set of very specific and rigid rules can cause your kids to burnout and throw tantrums of their own. But getting angry won’t solve the problem. What will fix it is resisting the urge to over-parent.
It’s important to keep tabs on your own behavior and control yourself from interfering too much in your kid’s life.
As a general practice, avoid ordering your kid, directing them on a particular path, or making their choices for them.
Also, be sure you scold them only when absolutely necessary. As teens, they realize that their actions have consequences — the ones they’ll have to face on their own if things go awry.
Give your kids some privacy and let them be on their own as much as you can, keeping their safety and well-being in mind. You can obviously have a set of rules in place for them, but ensure none of the rules you make are too harsh. Find ways to earn your teen’s trust and try to be a friend to them. That’ll prevent over-parenting.
We understand that over-parenting stems from a genuine concern for your kids. But once you loosen your grip a little, you will notice a marked improvement in the relationship between you and your kids!