My editor at the Parenting Squad, Rhonda, directed me to this fantastic article written by Katherine Ozment and published in Boston Magazine called “Welcome to the Age of Overparenting!” I loved this article for many reasons, and I thought it would make for some great discussion on Parenting Squad’s weekly twitter chat- so I invited Katherine Ozment to join us yesterday as I asked the group whether or not they displayed the signs of “classic overparenting” that are described in the article. And now I would like to ask you- Momof6 readers:
Do you think you “overparent”?
Everyone’s first reaction seems to be “of course not….. maybe other people overparent, but not me!” But there is little doubt that our generation of parents has taken the “job of parenting” to a whole new level… we focus on attachment-parenting from the moment our little ones arrive into our arms- wearing them in slings and Bjorns constantly. We fill their infant minds and their days with all forms of “educational” toys, games, and videos. We schedule outings to Mommy and Me classes before they can even talk. And as they grow we sign them up for a myriad of social and skill-based activities- music lessons, foreign language lessons, sports, and so on… running ourselves ragged in the process. Enter the older tweens and teen years and we buy them cell phones so that we can text them constantly- checking in with them, sending them little reminders, along with plenty of esteem-building love notes.
Is any of this starting to sound familiar? Maybe? Well then let’s look at five forms of “classic overparenting” that I found within the article:
“Classic Overparenting” Sign #1: Are you constantly checking in with how your kids are feeling?
How many times a day do you ask your kids: “How are you?”, “Are you okay?”, “What are you thinking?”, “How do you feel about this?”
“Classic Overparenting” Sign #2: Are you trying to be your child’s friend?
As Katherine points out in her article, when we were being raised by our own parents they were concerned with instilling in us values such as obedience, manners, and respect for authority. But our current generation of parents are the first parents in history who really want to be our kid’s friend…. maybe even our kid’s best friend. Is that how you think of yourself- their friend first and parent second? Or the other way around?
“Classic Overparenting” Sign #3: Are you endlessly telling them “Good Job!” for every little thing?
Do you praise them for every small thing- finishing their breakfast, brushing their teeth, getting their coat on, buckling themselves into the car? As Katherine learns in her research for the article…. this is not such a good thing.
“Classic Overparenting” Sign #4: Do you worry about every possible danger that could be lurking?
This is one that I am probably the most guilty of doing…. do you limit what your child does because you are worried that something “bad” could happen? I know that even when I have my young ones out at the playground, I can hear myself constantly saying “be careful” or “don’t climb up the slide- just go down the slide”… and on and on. And this past weekend, my family and I were hiking in the woods behind our house and we came across an iced-over pond (that was actually probably no deeper than a mud puddle)…. but I urged them to get off of the ice because I was worried about whether or not it was “safe”. For Pete’s sake it was about 20 degrees outside… the ice was clearly frozen. And should the ice crack- what was going to happen? They were going to get their ankles wet? Sheesh….
“Classic Overparenting” Sign #5: Do you over-orchestrate your child’s day?
Are you working too hard to give them every opportunity that comes their way? How many activities does your child participate in each week? And how much down-time to they have for imaginative play?
I’m starting with the Mom in the mirror!
Katherine’s article was a great reflection of how many of us today are approaching parenting…. and as she sought out answers from several noted experts in an effort to examine her own parenting approaches- she made some great discoveries. Such as psychologist and author Michael Thompson’s take on how we all need to disengage a little from our kids:
“Here’s the thing: Modern parents feel that more time with Mom and Dad is always a positive — this is the single biggest change in American childhood — but the truth is that more time with you isn’t always a positive. In fact, it’s annoying.”
“The modern parent thinks he or she is always value added,” Thompson says calmly, then delivers the shiv: “But you aren’t. At some point you realize you’re a burden to your kids.”
Please click on over and read Katherine’s article on Overparenting in its entirety and then come back here and tell me what you think… in this light- do you now see ways in which YOU over parent your kids?