On Over Parenting
Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy. ~ Robert A. Heinlein
Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve. ~ Roger Lewin
Over parenting is basically, parenting bling! Too much and not nice at all. It hampers the development of the child, and fails as a parenting style. Over parenting means exactly that - completely overdoing the parenting bit. Going so far as to vicariously live through your kids. Making all their decisions for them, deciding what's right and wrong for them, assuming that they are too naïve to know what they want from life, are too inefficient to make the right choices for themselves, constantly telling them what to do, which friends to hang out with and which to avoid, telling them what to wear, what stream to pursue graduation in, whom to marry, when to marry, and so on and so forth. You get the gist, I assume. And this way of raising kids is WRONG. There's a term for such parents - Helicopter Parents - always hovering above their kids.
With over parenting, you are only crippling your child in every way possible. Sure, you have the best intentions at heart, but unintentionally, you are ruining your child's chance at a normal, healthy, happy and emotionally satisfying life. You are caught up in the material things that you think will lead your child on the path of happiness. But while doing so, you totally forget/ neglect the emotional and psychological aspect of raising kids. To put it straight across, at the expense of hurting emotions, such parents are control freaks and want to control each and every aspect of their child's life, and are usually despised by their kids, if the kids have managed to develop their own opinions in spite of such parents. This style of parenting is usually well intentioned, but sometimes it is to feed the ego of the parents. The oh my child needs me as much as before, although he's all grown up, and cannot do a thing without asking me, is a very ego-massaging cushion to sleep on. These kinds of parents are too scared to let go of their kids, they fear that they won't be needed anymore, and so the more their kids grow, the more they want to control them.
Over parenting is an absolutely unhealthy way to raise a child, and over parenting effects in kids are pretty adverse. If any of you identify with what is mentioned in the above paragraphs, then please stop! The more you try to control your child's life, the more he will resent you and your attempts at being important in his life, for the children of such parents will escape at the first opportunity that they get, and will think twice about letting such parents back into their lives.
One has to know how over parenting affects one's child, and it's not in a good way. The kids that grow up with super parents / helicopter parents, show the following signs:
- They become introverts and are usually reserved and shy.
- They are not able to handle confrontations or conflicts and resolve them in a healthy manner, because they are so used to having their parents sort out everything for them.
- They usually have very low self esteem, low confidence, and over time they tend to believe that they are indeed incapable of making any decisions for themselves.
- Such children grow up to be lazy and dependent without any sense of their individuality, because they usually have all the decisions made for them by their parents.
- When the time comes for them to make decisions, they feel totally lost and keep asking other people continuously about what they should and should not do, and keep putting off making any important decisions.
- Unrealistic expectations from parents puts them under a lot of stress, and they usually end up depressed if they fail to live up to their parents' expectations, often failing to realize their worth. They measure their worth from their parents' point of view and often end up falling short. Conversely, such children always expect to be cushioned from all the bad things in life, because that is what they are used to, and they cannot handle tough situations.
On Attachment Parenting
Always kiss your children goodnight - even if they are already asleep. ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
There are two lasting bequests we can give to our children. One is roots. The other is wings. ~ Hodding Carter, Jr.
Attachment parenting, as the word suggests, is all about bonding with your child on an emotional plane, providing secure and solid attachments for him, so that although he is encouraged to do his own thing in life, he knows that his parents are always there when he needs their guidance and help, without forcing their opinions and beliefs on him. Attachment parenting focuses more on giving guidance, nurturing your child's uniqueness, his talents, instead of forcing him to be like everyone else, and then breathing down his neck constantly about being the best at being ordinary. It's a gentler, more nurturing and fostering way of raising children, and teaching them that they have to fight their battles themselves. It's good to win, but it's OK to lose sometimes too, and it says that you will celebrate their wins, and provide a shoulder to cry on if / when they lose.
The backbone of attachment parenting is respecting your child as an individual with his own talents and flaws, his own opinions and beliefs. It means not treating him as someone who 'belongs' to them, who they have a right to dictate, to tell him how he should lead his life, etc., simply owing to the fact that they played a part in creating his life. The main benefits of attachment parenting are that it stresses on the socio-emotional development of the child right from his birth and realizes the importance of physical contact - hugs, pats on the shoulder, holding hands, rubbing backs - basically any touch that comforts and nurtures. It is the importance of responding to your child's emotional needs and not dismissing any feeling as trivial or unimportant, and the importance of putting the child before the ambitions and expectations of the parents from him.
One of the main points that gives attachment parenting the thumbs-up in the debate of over parenting vs attachment parenting is that, in the attachment school of parenting, the parents are in sync with the emotional and psychological development of their child. This means that they are better able to set realistic expectations from their child, unlike in over parenting, where the parents expect their child to be the best at everything he does, irrespective of whether he is cut out for that particular thing or not. Setting realistic expectations and not burdening your child unnecessarily, is a key factor in ensuring mental and emotional well-being in children. And lastly, in attachment parenting, when the child can handle and satisfy his own requirements, he is left to his own resources, instead of having his needs fulfilled anyway, just to 'make things easy'.
But it is not all rosy, and there are a few cons of attachment parenting too. These cons though, are more for the parents than for the child.
- It becomes difficult for parents to strictly adhere to the attachment school of parenting, and can be the cause of major stress for parents, specially if a support group is absent.
- Critics and child care institutions, like The American Academy of Pediatrics, have strongly disagreed against co sleeping that is an important part of attachment parenting, and medical experts are against another important part of attachment parenting - non circumcision - since they say that this practice may expose the babies to heightened risks towards particular diseases, and may also cause problems later on in life.
- Experts say that attachment parenting instills a sense of over-whelming obligation in parents, which, if they fail to fulfill, causes them stress and an overload of guilt.
- Non believers of attachment parenting say that it is not very much different from mainstream parenting, and that it doesn't become superior over mainstream parenting simply because of its labor intensive approach.
I'll leave you with some food for thought -
If I had my child to raise over again
I'd finger paint more, and point the finger less.
I'd do less correcting, and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I would care to know less, and know to care more.
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I'd run through more fields, and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging, and less tugging.
I would be firm less often, and affirm much more.
I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I'd teach less about the love of power,
And more about the power of love.
~ Diane Loomans, from If I Had My Child To Raise Over Again