Ahoy parents! The tides are changing. Parents, educators, experts and obviously, the kids, have finally come to accept that the entire “over-parenting” approach to raising kids, just isn’t working out. All that structured time? All those heroic homework rescues? All that frenzied energy spent mapping the perfect childhood? Well, it’s all a waste of valuable time and energy. As a mom of five, who didn’t have the luxury to waste time or energy, I was committed to finding an approach to parenting that made more sense for myself and for the kids I was responsible for raising.
Madeline Levine and Faulty Logic
Among experts who are beginning to challenge the over-parenting, over involved approach is expert, Madeline Levine. Levine uses the term “faulty logic” and states, “over-parenting isn’t doing what we think it’s doing” and I couldn’t agree more. The question then becomes, so why the heck are so many parents STILL hovering, over protecting, micro-managing, controlling and over stepping their boundaries as parents? And even more curious and relevant than that question is, What the heck can a parent do instead?
Lenore Skenazy on WHY Are Parents Still Hovering
As Lenore Skenazy shares with her readers week after week, fear is being pushed at parents from all sides.
- Let them play outside? Social services.
- Let them draw with chalk? Fined.
- Let them ride their bikes? Jail.
This fear-based thinking which leads to over-protection and micro-managing is easy to adopt (often unintentionally), when parents find they are floating in a current that sweeps them into a sea of worst case scenarios.
The other fear that plays into this hovering approach weighs on parents who are afraid that if they let go, just a little, the family and their kids will fall apart. These parents worry that they’ll look like “bad parents” or they’ll get the hairy eyeball from strangers for the decision to step back a bit and give the kids some breathing room.
In spite of these fears, and many others, parents are re-thinking their approach to parenting and finding ways to show more trust in their kids’ abilities to navigate their lives and rebound from disappointments, frustrations and failures completing a very valuable learning process. For helicopter types though, admitting and working through their own fears takes courage. Those ”what-ifs” and worst cases can pile high and push even the most committed parent back to safer ground.
Like any change, stepping back and taking a less is more approach to parenting takes time, patience and support, so offer a hand and a bit of encouragement when you see someone ready to abandon the hyper-parenting ship for a more satisfying approach to raising great kids!
What Can Mom and Dad Do Instead of Hovering?
If you’re still tempted to hover and you’re looking for a replacement response, you can, for your kids’ sake do one thing: train yourself to refrain. Literally, do less. Say less. Interfere less. That’s it!
Stepping back and giving your kids some breathing room isn’t the same as not caring about their safety. It is a matter of balancing your concern with the reality that in most cases, your kids will be fine. Instead of worrying about the worst case outcomes, take some time , and give your children the chance to show up and practice (and fail) at their own lives. I used Duct Tape (hence the name of my book!) to keep my mouth shut and my bossy, dictating ways at bay.
- You may be a saver, so next time, sit.
- You may be a comforter, so next time, stay.
- You might be a nagger, so next time, zip it.
It’s not always a valiant course toward independence, but kids learn their own lessons every time we allow natural consequences to do the teaching for us and we refrain from saying “I told you so”.
Remember, our kids don’t need us nearly as much as we think they do (or want them to) and we don’t need to teach every lesson. Our job is to guide without control and to respond to them as the world would. Remember, bribing, begging and giving-in won’t train kids to become resilient adults. Keep this in mind and your decision to sit, stay & zip it will be much easier (even if it comes with the occasional hairy eyeball!)