You’re mystified as you watch her in action and want to scream, “Stop behaving like that.” Sounds, like I’m talking about a child, right? I’m not; I’m talking about an over-involved parent.
Over-involved parents tend to micromanage everything in their child’s world. They’re the parents who think it’s better to fix, rather than teach their child about the injustices of life.
Kara Young, a Circle of Moms member who is also a kindergarten teacher, wants to know if anyone has experienced this.
“…parents walk them into the classroom then hang book bags, sharpen pencils, get their journals out for them, tell them what to write, HOW to write it. Another parent comes to lunch every day because she believes her daughter can't go a whole day without seeing mom's face. It's APRIL! This mom brings a dinner plate and silverware for her daughter to eat the fast food she brings. Everyday.”
IMHO, the over-involved parent is more intense than a helicopter parent. The over-involved parent misunderstands what her parental job description really is.
Hear me out before you rush to the comment box. I totally understand wanting the best for your child. Everyone wants that for his or her child, including me.
The parents described by Kara aren’t looking at what their child needs; they’re focused on what they want for their child.
What Does a Child Truly Need?
A child truly needs parents who are guided by the “big picture.” Big picture parents understand that what’s said and done today affects how your child thinks about things tomorrow. Big picture parents understand there’s a huge gap between how a fully-grown adult brain interprets things and how an immature child’s brain sees things.
Circle of Moms member Lindsey H. asks, “When you are with your children during playgroups or play time with other children do you find yourself interjecting to steer them in the right direction (sharing etc…he is an only child and I want to mold his interactions so he has good and appropriate ones.”
Lindsey’s attempt to “mold his interactions” comes from a place of love. However, her child may interpret her attempts in a completely different way.
Depending on a child’s temperament the interpretation of “mom steering things in the right direction” will most likely be translated in one of two ways.
One kind of child’s immature thinking may cause him to think he’s special, “When others don’t share with me, my mom jumps in and makes them.” If mom continues to do that for her child he may grow up thinking others should always give him his way. As a tween and teen he may surround himself with kids who bow to his every whim. He may even grow into an adult who has an air of entitlement about him that few will enjoy.
Another type or child, one with a different temperament, may begin shying away from playing with others, or stop risking new experiences so mom doesn’t step in and embarrass him. As a grown-up he may find he’s uncomfortable taking risks of any kind.
Both types of children will have missed out on learning how to handle themselves in different situations so they’re prepared to handle life’s bumps and bruises when they’re older.
Over-involved Parenting vs. Teaching Parenting
Having the big picture as your guide means knowing that what you want for your child may not always be what he needs due to the way he perceives things.
The conversation below wasn’t created to show parents how to handle the situation. It’s meant to show the difference between being over-involved and teaching.
The Over-involved Parent
Mom: “Don’t worry princess I’ll make sure you get a cupcake even if there isn’t enough for everyone.”
Child: (yelling) “Get it now! Make sure it’s pink—I only eat pink!”
The Teaching Parent
Mom: “Sweetie, looks like there aren’t enough pink cupcakes for everyone. What’s your back-up, blue or purple?”
Child: (beginning to cry) “I want pink.”
Mom: “I know, sometimes you have to change what you want, that’s why we have second choices?”
Child: “Okay, I'll have one with sprinkles.”
I, like every parent, wanted to give my precious kids everything. When I felt tempted I’d silently replay the lyrics to the Rolling Stones song, “You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well you might find, you get what you need.”
Sharon Silver is the author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding: 108 Ways to Discipline Consciously and Become the Parent You Want to Be, and the monthly Online Skills Class, a local, national and international anytime e-class providing parents with solutions for reacting, correcting behavior, outbursts and more to create the parenting instruction manual you always wished came with your child! Click here to receive 2 FREE tips from Sharon's book. Find Sharon on Twitter and Facebook.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.