How Much Is Too Much Involvement By A Parent
Dear Dr. LeCrone:
I am a single parent of two boys, ages 5 and 8. They are the love of my life and I don’t know what my life would be without them. There are times, however, that I am afraid that I may be too involved in their lives and, perhaps, overprotective. Can you please give me some insight on my situation? — A reader
Parents, in an attempt to make a child feel completely happy and content, often shield him from real world experiences. The parents’ intent is to protect the child from major tragedies, not minor skirmishes that easily can be brushed off.
The challenge lies in the ability to protect from catastrophe while creating independence to cope with adversity, disappointments and challenges.
Here are some thoughts:
* Teach your child that the values, morals and behaviors he sees in the world are not necessarily yours and need not be his. Help him understand that healthy lifestyles are products of good choices and decisions.
Also, make sure you provide healthy parental examples. Critically evaluate your words and actions and be honest with yourself about the “blueprint” that you are creating for your child to follow.
* Let your child know that you decide on acceptable limits and boundaries and that input or pressure from the media, peers, or other families may not be acceptable to you.
Be prepared to handle your child’s inevitable unhappiness with some of your decisions.
* Resist the temptation to try to shield and protect your child from any and all of life’s adversities. Realistically, the world is not a bed of roses and bringing your child up in a “bubble” of artificial security creates false assumptions and perceptions as the child matures.
* Be available for advice but as your child matures, let him explore options and learn to make decisions.
Yes, you have the final say, but try to instill confidence in your child by letting decisions and the consequences of these decisions become his when possible.
* Be aware of tendencies to hover over your child and “overparent” him because of your own insecurity or need for control. Don’t overreact to painful experiences that inevitably occur in life.
A scratched knee is not a catastrophe. A broken toy does not always have to be replaced. A failing grade is not a total disaster. Making mountains out of mole hills can create hypersensitivity to adversity.
Smothering a child with too much oversight and involvement can have a negative outcome.
Harold H. LeCrone, Jr., Ph.D. Copyright © 2012