Most parents love their children and want the best for them, but some “overparent” their children. This parenting overkill can be detrimental to a child’s development and is just as bad as neglectful parenting.
Instead of teaching problem-solving, the parent solves everything. They’re over-protective, believing the child is fragile. They spoil the child by rarely saying no. These “super parents”, “helicopter parents” or “attachment parents” hover over every aspect of their children’s live, sometimes even into adulthood. They exert too much control, place too many constraints and make too many demands on a child.
Many parents today believe that the busier a child is kept, the better off they are. For example, I know a woman with a pre-teen daughter. This child has school, karate, academic enhancement classes, volleyball, choir practice, bible study/church and youth group meetings. She goes to the hair salon and gets manicures/pedicures. There’s constant shopping, homework and chores. She is also expected to be an honor roll student and she is. When does this child have time to be a child? When do the parents, who both work full-time, actually have time to be parents?
This child also has way too much stuff; desktop, laptop, cell phone, IPod, digital camera, HDTV, DVD player, video game systems, clothes, jewelry, accessories, shoes, bags, etc. She even has a hair weave! The parents can afford it and just don’t say no to her. When I asked the mother if she feels she’s spoiling her daughter she says, “Hey, she deserves it, I want her to have a better life than I had as a child.” A better life or more stuff?
Whenever the child has a problem, the parents fix it. They follow behind her as if they are her servants. She is not a total monster, but can be self-centered, demanding, arrogant and spoiled. She sometimes mistreats other children that she thinks of as lesser than herself. When complaints have come from other parents about their daughter embarrassing other children, the mother is defensive, insists it can’t possibly be her daughter’s fault and that the other kids are jealous and “haters”.
Experts say that overparenting usually occurs in more affluent families. It may cause a child to be fearful, to lack confidence, to avoid confrontation and be unable to cope with life or face even the smallest challenge, problem, change or adversity.
Overparented children may not show signs of problems until middle or high school as life starts to gets more complex.
Some children can force overparenting by being manipulative and demanding to the point that they force their parents to over-parent. The child acts out or whines when they don’t get what they want. Rather than saying no, the parents cave in and relinquish control, believing that saying no makes them bad parents or they’re hurting the child.
Parents that over-parent are often Type-A personalities, perfectionists or over-achievers themselves. They want to be perfect at everything they do in life and they want perfect children.
They parents often have high expectations and have demand academic excellence. They like having children that they can brag about to people and believe the child is being well-prepared to be perfect adults.
Over-bearing parents feel their child is fragile and lacks resilience, so they try to shield them from anything and everything. They do not realize that most children are strong and resilient and often have pretty good coping skills when left to their own devices from time-to-time.
MSNBC.com – Overparenting: When Good Intentions Go Too Far, Kids Can Suffer:
Wikipedia.com – Helicopter Parents
Brainy-Child.com – Confident Children – Avoid Overparenting
NYTimes.com – The End of Overparenting?
Babble.com – The Overparenting Crisis: