I am passionate about being a parent; it is partially the reason why I am in this business! I believe that through raising our children well we truly can change the world. But as the father of two small children I’ve come to realize that raising children well is easier said than done. Today I just want to share with your some of my thoughts and opinions on a parenting trend that I see and experience every day – overparenting. And I would love to hear other parents’ opinions, so do leave a comment at the end of this blog.
We live in an extremely competitive and fast-paced world. Technology has accelerated all we do. Years ago you had to wait for a reply to a letter delivered by hand. Now you have replies to your queries within minutes, a world of information at your fingertips, and instant access via online shopping to whatever your heart desires. Social media proclaims accomplishments and prosperity.
From the day we find out that we are pregnant we start aiming at giving our children the best. We want to raise them in the best manner possible, and invest money and time in researching and finding all types of tricks and tools to make this happen.
We choose the best school we can, often paying more than we can truly afford and traveling longer distances than technically necessary. We aim and pray for the best teacher. Silently we are hoping that our child is one of the “better” children in the class. At parent feedback evenings we want only good feedback; any criticism is hard to hear. We set the same high standards on the sports field and at other extra-curricular activities. We so believe that this is the way to go that we feel guilty when we don’t! This often leads to overparenting.
Ultimately we fear failure and want to do everything possible to succeed and make sure our children succeed. We want the best for our children!
If you look closely you will recognize this same fear of failure in yourself. It is the root cause of most of our stress. Am I going to meet that deadline? What is going to happen if I don’t reach my targets? Can we afford this holiday/birthday/renovation?
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Being chronically stressed affects your health and steals joy from your life. Working full-time and then going home to your family make many parents feel that they never catch a break. When last have you taken some R&R? When last have you gone throughout a day not having your mobile phone with you? When last have you not worried about your children? When last have you failed something?
I love to read business and personal growth books, and also find a lot of wonderful articles on Pocket. I recently came across an article written by Jessica Lahey that really made me stop and think.
Jessica is a teacher and a mom. She realized that many children experience this fear of failure in the classroom situation, leading to them not wanting to take risks. They don’t want to fail at a task and look stupid in front of their peers. She started to blame the pressure that parents put on their children for these fears, and then came to the realization that as a mom she was making the very same mistakes.
Which brings me to the question – are we overparenting? We try to ensure only the best in every aspect of our children’s lives. Even if we are not openly pressuring them to excel at all they do, we try our hardest to create an environment in which we expect this to happen. And children can sense these expectations.
Because of this protective streak, we also feel guilty when it comes to disciplining our children and we may fail to enforce consequences for bad actions. Our toddlers have social calendars and language tutors. We sit in the principal’s office with every small complaint. We buy every toy and tool and feel guilty when we can’t afford it.
Overparenting and trying to force children into a certain mindset are creating children who are less resilient and daring. It reduces their ability to learn and their interest in learning. Are we doing them a favor by always paving their roads and doing everything for them? Do we leave our children to struggle through an activity or do we jump in and help the moment we see they are struggling? What do you do when you see your child in an uncomfortable situation on the playground of at a restaurant? Do you immediately intervene?
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These thoughts made me reflect on my own life. I realized that I learned more and experienced growth in times of hardship and difficulty. Our children need to grow these skills in small ways in their early years, so that they are able to one day face the bigger challenges that their lives will bring. They need to develop their own creativity and problem solving skills. They need to test and find their boundaries. You do not want to raise children that are fragile; you want to raise them as strong individuals that can face challenges with the firm believe that they are able to conquer all. You want to build their self-confidence and for them to believe in their own value.
Jessica has written a book called “The Gift of Failure”. This book is on my reading list, and I’m sure I will have further insights to share. If you are interested in the topic you can so long watch her YouTube clip at https://youtu.be/HBttSf3BYT4
For now, as one parent to another, I want to ask that examine your actions critically and ask yourself: are you overparenting your children?