There are so many ways to raise a child.
Some parents are (1) authoritarian or disciplinarian, and use a strict discipline style where punishment is common. Some choose the (2) authoritative style, where parents are both nurturing and reasonable, so the child tends to think for themselves. Communication is often appropriate for the kid’s level of understanding. Then, there’s (3) permissive parenting, which offers limited direction or guidance and allows kids to do what they want. The other parenting style is (4) uninvolved parenting, which offers little nurturing and gives their kids a lot of freedom. In the last couple of years, another parenting style has also emerged called overparenting.
What Is Overparenting?
Overparenting is the parent’s attempt to be excessively involved in the daily activities of their child or children as a means to shield them from difficult situations. Usually, the parents cannot tolerate watching their child make a mistake, fail, or get hurt. Some telltale warning signs that a parent is overparenting their child are the following:
1. They often get into a power struggle with their kids over little things – This signals that the parent is being too demanding or too picky, thus preventing the child from developing the independence he or she needs, according to parenting platform Verywell Family.
2. They cannot stand to see their child fail – Although most parents do not want to watch their child fail, some are quick to jump in to rescue the child. This is not a good parenting approach though because the child not learn from their mistakes or won’t develop problem-solving skills. For instance, the parent will quickly intervene if they see the child struggling to answer their homework.
3. They are too concerned about other issues that other parents often don’t care about – For instance, a parent may be worried that his or her 6-year-old child is playing on monkey bars or they can’t stand the idea that the child has to cross the street alone or with their friends. It is safe to assume that the parent is more caring compared to other parents, but this may be overparenting, too.
4. They set expectations that are not age-appropriate for the kid – Sometimes, overparenting starts from setting expectations that are too high or too low for the kid. Parents should believe that their kid is capable of acting independently and not do everything for them just because of fear that they may not do it right.
5. They struggle to let their child make their own decisions – This means that the parent is not allowing the child to find new opportunities because they assume that they know the “right way” or the “best way” to do everything.
How Overparenting Teaches Kids to Be Entitled
Ana Aznar, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Winchester, shared that overparenting behaviors are no doubt acts of love. However, by making sure that kids never experience failure or disappointment, this also hinders the child’s development and teaches them to be entitled. Young people who have over-involved parents experience a higher level of stress and depression and have less satisfaction with their life. They also have less ability to control their emotions, increased drug use, and a high sense of entitlement compared to less involved parents.
Zero to Three, an organization that helps ensure that babies and toddlers have a strong start in life, conducted a survey in the US with a nationally representative sample of 2,200 parents of children up to 5 years old. They were told of the importance of the first 5 years in the lives of their child and were asked how it made them feel. About 37% of them said they are completely motivated by their roles as parents, 28% are more motivated than terrified, 25% said they are equally terrified and motivated, 5% are more terrified, and another 5% said they are completely terrified of their role.
Nevertheless, 83% of them said that good parenting can be learned and 69% said that if they knew more positive parenting strategies, they would be willing to use them. In 2018, a total of 1,699 parents were also surveyed in Singapore in terms of what challenges they face when inculcating gracious values in their children. About 27% of parents of secondary school children said they did not encounter any challenges and 24% said their child or children’s values are strongly influenced by others. Only 2% said that they are not the right person to do so and 27% said they lack time to spend with their child/children.
Nonprofit organization Singapore Kindness Movement commissioned the Graciousness Survey to provide behavioral insights on kindness and graciousness in Singapore. About 4% of parents of young adults said that what they teach their child/children are not reinforced by their environment and 7% said what they teach their children is not reinforced by their interaction with mediums, such as social media, TV, and the internet.
Why Overparenting Is Also Bad for Parents
Aznar went on to say that overparenting does not just have negative consequences to the child but also to the parent. This is because those who over-parent experience a high level of regret, stress, and anxiety. In turn, their children will pick up their parents’ anxiety and consider it as their own, the reason why many university students struggle with depression and anxiety. Aznar said that challenge lies in determining the right amount of demandingness and love. The level of parental involvement should just be at the optimal level but not completely shield the child in a way that doesn’t teach them how to face issues on their own. Parents should teach their kids to develop resilience too.
Parents should treat their child like a competent and smart human being and not over parent them. Overparenting them may mean that parents are cheating their kids of the chance to reach their full potential as a human being.