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Two Reasons Why Being an Over-Involved Parent Doesn’t Work

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.

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.

I’ve seen and heard stories from other moms about parents who do everything for their child. They hang up their child’s coat, take her by the hand to her desk and sit beside her, correcting her, as she begins the 1st assignment of the day.

IMHO, the over-involved parent is an extreme version, a more intense version of 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 parent I’m describing isn’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.

When my kids were little there was a mom who was over-involved and controlled every drop of play and interaction her daughter had with other kids. She’d steer the kids in the direction she thought they should go. She would never wait to see what happened so the kids could learn, she would jump in and prevent it from happening.

We knew this mom was coming from a place of love. However, her child began interpreting her attempts in a completely different way.

Depending on a child’s temperament the interpretation of an over-involved mom will most likely be translated in one of two ways.

One 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 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 plan, blue or purple?”

Child: (beginning to cry) “I want pink.”

Mom: “I know and 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.”

Description: Over-involved parents mean well but are seeing the big-picture. What’s the big-picture? How a child interprets the parent’s actions.

Sharon Silver is the author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding and Parenting Skills e-class. Go to www.proactiveparenting.net to download two free chapters of the book and learn about our flagship big-picture program. Find Sharon on Twitter and Facebook.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Marvin Mason May 05, 2012 at 11:39 AM
So true. And the kids notice. Check out the Twitter handle, @WFBproblems . It was created by kids in Bay to make fun of parents.
Vicki Bennett May 05, 2012 at 12:48 PM
The worst part of having an over-involved parent is that the child isn't prepared for life. They go off to college and suddenly have freedom to "do their own thing" which usually means party all night and sleeping through classes. When the mid-semester report goes home the student's freshman year, the over-involved parent panics. The professor and the department chair usually receive panic calls from the parent. The parent is shocked to be shut down immediately since his/her child is over 18 years of age. It's even reported that such parents are calling potential employers for his/her child and insisting on certain pay and benefits. Our job as parents is to raise the best adult that we can. Unfortunately, we have many young adults now that are incapable of making decisions and feel entitiled. Parents, do your child a favor and raise him/her to take responsibility for his/her actions. That's the best parental gift that you can give them. You will also be modeling good parenting skills for your child to carry over to the next generation. Volunteer for a charity or get a job to fill your days. That too models great adult skills.
Ralphette May 05, 2012 at 03:07 PM
I couldn't agree more. I have three boys,18,16 &12. Sometimes it really hurts to let them make mistakes, but it is the only way they are going to learn. I know a parent like this and I always say that the kid is going to be in for a rude awakening when they get out in the REAL world.

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