What are the consequences for children of over parenting and
I have been following a series of reports in my local newspaper about
encouraging children to be more independent and adventurous by walking
to school. Walking
The idea of allowing children to walk to school
is preposterous to many parents today - why would this be?
In the olden days, as the children say, women seemed obsessed
with housework and cleaning.
While the children were sent outside to amuse
themselves with endless play, these women worked at having the best
homemade soup bubbling on the stove and creating huge biscuit tins
filled with award winning homemade baking while they cleaned house
What's different today is that instead of worrying about their homes,
women instead invest huge amounts of worry into whether their children
are up to the mark - this invisible mark which is set by their peers
and by consumerism and by which they determine 'normal'.
It is parenting which has become highly stressful, highly organised and
highly competitive, and raising a child has become a project to be managed .
Over Parenting by Loving Parents
Back in the day, children were mostly confident and capable about
getting themselves to school. Many children were sent out to run
errands regularly, often covering miles in their journeys.
Many of today's parents will tell stories of the long walks to school
through rain, wind and storms. Some of these stories can even
sound like parodies of Monty Python as they speak about trudging
through snow and up hill and down dale!
Recently a new kind of parent
has emerged, a parent whose fears tend to be detrimental to the healthy
welfare and development of their children. These parents tend to
over parent their children.
Over Parenting - Media Hype?
I believe over parenting came about originally through the media when it began to
portray stories of child abduction or abuse. Naturally, we
all want to protect our children from knowing about this let alone
Media hype on television and upbeat newspaper headlines create a sense
that dreadful things
happen continually, and just around the corner form where we are living
However, the tragedy of September 11th, with all the
subsequent media speculation about terrorism really added to the media
induced fears for parents and their children.
I believe that fear produces more fear and today's media publishes more
of what we unfortunately appear to want to read - more abductions, more
scaremongering and more child abuse than many of us can handle at one
viewing or reading.
Nowadays, parents who allow their children the freedom to roam, walk,
cycle and explore are criticised by other parents. Rather
than being seen as creating independence in their children, they are
seen as parents who allow their children to step into danger.
What is Over Parenting?
Over parenting comes from the belief that for a child to be happy and
secure, he must be protected from unpleasant or sad experiences. It
also means constantly protecting the child from the huge and scary
world around him.
This is why so many parents drive their children to
school even when they are within walking distance and the sun is
shining brightly. It also means making many of his decisions
for him, taking the rap for any of his mistakes and solving his
Mainly, over parenting appears to occur in affluent rather
than poorer families.
What are the Consequences of Over Parenting?
Over protected and over spoilt children who lack confidence, have a
poor self image and are frightened to take risks or confront new
Children who shy away from responsibility, are prone to blame others
and who are often fearful and shy or haughty and outspoken. Children who
appear emotionally immature for their age group.
How to break the over-protective
Over parenting is directly related to a parents' level of self
confidence, both in the world around them and within themselves.
Parents who allow their children to make decisions for themselves, to
have plenty of free
and to explore the world around them,
express a level of confidence and trust, both in the greater world and
They tend to have a more optimistic attitude and to
be bearers of glad tidings rather than doom and gloom. Conversely, they
also tell their children the truth when accidents happen and tragedies
strike. When a parent displays this high level of confidence,
their children learn to be as confident too.
If you can see that your child expects you to do everything for him
including his planning, thinking and feeling, then it is high time for
you to break your over-parenting pattern.
Many schools unfortunately collude with the media hype and
representations of neighbourhood fears so you may find it difficult to
change your parenting style to begin with.
You may find yourself to be the victim of pressure from other parents
whose own behaviour will be threatened by your new stance. It may mean
that you find yourself alone for a time.
On the other hand, you may find that many parents also share your new
stand on media hype and propaganda when you share with them your
feelings of guilt and pressure.
Take courage and suggest your children
walk or cycle to school if you live close enough.
Crack down on laziness and draw up chore charts to help your children
begin a new path towards independence and responsibility.
Allow them opportunities to fail and encourage them to grow a backbone.
Encourage self reliance and help them to build
your child and show him that you do.
Being a responsive
- responding to your children's
needs, is not the same as over-parenting, in which you anticipate and
take control for them.
If you see yourself as over parenting, I encourage you to take a step
back and let them go - to grow and develop and explore and
plan and create and
learn and make mistakes and fall and get up again.
Read more in this series here:
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
and share it with
us....we'd love to hear from you!