Over-parenting…is there really such a thing? After all, parents are supposed to take care of their kids.
Take care of yes, but there is such a thing as over-doing it.
In his book, 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid, author Tim Elmore talks about parents who over function so that their children do not have to struggle. This week I will address #8 of a 12-part series on parenting mistakes. Here are the first seven:
- 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
Helicopter parenting is not a new thing. It was happening way before the term became popular. For years, they’ve been ignoring boundaries and embarrassing their children, whether it’s on the sidelines of a youth sports event, at school, or in their child’s workplace.
Over-parenting is another term used to describe parents who are way too involved in their kids’ lives, jumping in to help them do everything from laundry to writing their resumes after college. And when it starts with small children and continues, kids get used to it. They get so used to it, in fact, that they don’t have a chance to develop ambition or tenacity.
Many kids enjoy this; after all, it’s kinda like having a personal assistant. Others strive to break away from parental control and are seen as “ungrateful” to Mom and Dad for all they have and are doing.
In his book, Elmore explains why parents do this:
- Parental ego: they don’t want to look bad if don’t fulfill their child’s desires.
- Comparison: it’s easy for parents to compare their families and their parenting to peers.
- Control: parents are control freaks, convinced that things won’t work out unless they step in.
- Fear: parents often don’t think their kids are ready to step out on their own and still need parental help.
- Emotional needs: parents have their own emotional need to be needed.
The bottom line?
When parents give their kids too much, their children don’t learn the art of working and waiting.
And that’s how kids grow up entitled.
Ironically, the things young people want to avoid are necessary for them to mature authentically. Slow, hard, boring, risky, laborious—these are the very challenges that prepare children to become good adults, a good spouse, a good parent, a good employer, a good employee. Many life skills that once naturally developed in us now atrophy in today’s culture. So we must be far more intentional about leading our kids into opportunities to build these skills.
In his book, Elmore introduces the idea of being a lighthouse parent as opposed to a helicopter parent–offering guidance, but not hovering.
A lighthouse parent is different from a helicopter parent because it doesn’t move, but it provides light and communication, giving guidance while not chasing a child down. Check out the difference:
Parents are actually cheating their kids when they give them what they should be earning. Not only is this not good for a child, but it’s also exhausting for the parent.
One very good cure for the problem of giving kids what they are not earning is to teach them the value of work. Work gives fulfillment, raises self-esteem, develops discipline, and helps kids find their passions and gifts.
If you truly want your child to grow up to be a strong adult who can manage on their own, and will not be stuck living in your spare room until they are 35, teach them the value of work and learn to be a lighthouse parent instead of a helicopter parent.