consistent parenting advice
consistent parenting advice


The professionalism of parenthood - hyper-parenting

I find information about hyper-parenting particularly interesting because it feels like the opposite of the way I was raised. My early childhood was spent on a small sheep and cropping farm, and looking back it seems it was filled with oceans of time just stretching away into the distance.

hyper-parenting As youngsters we were regularly told to go out and play and come back at dinner time - which sometimes meant that our parents would have no idea where we were, or what we were doing! Mostly we would be exploring, building huts, climbing trees, playing in our "enchanted forest", or swimming in the many creeks that dotted the landscape.

It seems to have been a carefree time, mostly because there were few neighbors close by, and the idea of danger from strangers just never occurred to any of us! Just brothers and sisters free to roam, to fall, to make mistakes, to learn, to conquer, and to develop concentration, patience and creativity through hours and hours of free play time.

However, children today appear to have lost a lot of the wonderful opportunities for free play and a sense of wonder, by a parenting style that has reaped some pretty amazing names!

The Parent Trap is an incredibly interesting article in the series on the overprotective parenting style, also known as helicopter parenting, overparenting or hovering parents.

This writer talks about the 'professionalism of parenthood' in a culture of hyper-parenting and soaring expectations.

I'm all for love, intuition and common sense as the driving force behind parenting. What do you think?

Hyper-parenting - The Parent Trap?

Kim Gray, Calgary Herald
Published: Monday, April 28, 2008
A friend once told me that parents should endeavour to act like butlers -- never hovering, but always close by in case their child needs them.

At the time, I was a doting new mother, and I found his view of parenthood cold and detached. The very thought of a traditional and ever-aloof British butler gave me shivers. To me, my friend's suggestion was paramount to neglect.

hyper-parenting Now, with a decade of experience under my belt, I see the value in his words and the point he was trying to make -- the premise being that children are people, not projects to be managed. In order for them to become themselves, my friend was suggesting, kids need the space to develop apart from the constant presence of their moms and dads.

I was reminded of the butler metaphor after reading the latest book by Alberta-born writer Carl Honore, Under Pressure: Rescuing Childhood From the Culture of Hyper-Parenting (Knopf Canada, $32).

Honore, author of the acclaimed In Praise of Slow, is now based in London. In a telephone interview from Portland, Ore. where he was on a book tour, he tells me he wrote this book because he felt like he'd lost his way as a parent of two small children. He found himself, like other parents of his generation, anxious with worry that even a shred of his children's potential might go untapped.

"I'd lost my compass. It started as a personal thing. Then I was trying to understand what was going on in my own life. Then as a writer, I was curious about what was happening to other parents in other places," Honore says.

"I think what we're witnessing is the professionalization of parenthood. We're living in a cultural perfect storm. A culture of soaring expectations," he says. "We want everything to be perfect. From our homes to our teeth to our vacations to, regrettably, our children."

Hyper-parenting - The Parent Trap

Honore believes there are several reasons why parents micro-manage their kids these days, one of which is numbers. Families are typically smaller than they have been in previous years, and it's "much easier to hyper-parent one child or two children" than three, four or five kids," he says. "All of the research around the world shows that parents, if they have one child, tend to over-manage that child."

hyper-parenting What's more, Honore maintains, parents are choosing to raise their children later in life and they're unwittingly bringing their workplace ethos to the dinner table. "They're skidding into motherhood and fatherhood at the last minute.

They feel like this is their only chance to make it work and this sentiment informs their anxiety.

"Modern parents think, 'I'll bring in the experts, spend a lot of money and put in long hard hours.' They're 'professionalizing' their role as parents. What's more, they're putting pressure on kids to excel because with globalization, they know how competitive the workplace can be."

The irony of all this fuss is that, according to Honore, parents then expect to produce extremely intelligent, happy and healthy children.

"But this isn't happening. These kids aren't great problem solvers. They're depressed, often obese and they often suffer from anxiety. They come out of the assembly line of modern childhood and they're ill equipped. Hyper-parenting does not teach kids how to stand on their own two feet."

Honore, who refers to his new publication as an "anti-parenting book," says he's calling on modern moms and dads to trust their instincts and release the pressure they're putting on their children to be perfect.

Parents know, he insists, when their kids are tired from too many extracurricular activities. They know when their children are spending too much time on the Internet. They know when the kids need a break from homework and they know when their kids should head outdoors for some fresh air.

"I'm recommending that parents try to stop for a moment and shut out the sound and fury that surrounds children and families right now," Honore says. "Look at your own family and yourself and your own children and ask what is the right balance for you. There are so many ways to grow up."

hyper-parenting, balance

My seven-year-old son doesn't want to play organized hockey -- as much as my husband and I have encouraged him.

He insists he just wants to skate with his dad and the neighbours on the local rink.

The truth is, he's already got soccer and piano and a full Grade 1 curriculum on his plate. Does he really need to be doing more?

If I were honest, I'd admit that my inner "helicopter mom" still occasionally wants to convince my boy that hockey would be good for him.

But I resist. These days, I'm aiming -- not always successfully -- for a butler-style approach to parenting.

Kim Gray is a journalist and mother of two. She welcomes your feedback and ideas at

© The Calgary Herald 2008

Hyper-parenting? Why has it Occurred Today?

Over parenting, over protective parents, managed childhoods, all of this falls into the category of hyper parenting today.

There are numerous reasons for this style of parenting becoming a part of our way of life for many:

  • The economy and the need for gifted children to take their place in the future

  • Working parents who need alternative means of childcare and use extra curricular classes
  • Worried parents who want the very best for their children's future
  • Fear, which creates over protectiveness
  • Children raised like projects
  • The list goes on..............

  • consistent parenting advice Read more in this series here:

    Helicopter Parents           Overprotective parents

    Submarine Parents       Overparenting

    Would you like to comment on these articles by sharing how you feel about this type of parenting......Do you have any hints or tips for other parents??? Or do you have a story to tell about how you beat the pressure of being a hyper- parent?

    Contact Me and share it with us....we'd love to hear from you!

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