Is Your Parenting Style Hurting Your Kids?

How much influence or control do your parents have in your life? If you’re an adult with a healthy relationship with your parents, the answer is that they probably have some influence but no control. Some day soon your kids will say the same thing about you. Let that sink in for a moment. The kids that seemingly depend on your for everything are one day soon be on their own. And it’s your job to get them ready for that. Are you preparing them to live independently from you or is your parenting style (intentionally or unintentionally) fostering dependence?

There’s been a lot written in the last few years about Helicopter Parents but I don’t remember of ever meeting someone who admits that label is an accurate description of them. Part of that is due to the fact that Helicoptering is becoming the norm in our culture so that what used to be unusual is accepted practice.

Here’s what I see…

1. More and more kids are unable to make decisions for themselves because they rely heavily on parents to do that for them. The U. S. Army recruitment commercials are starting to target parents and not just potential recruits because the Army knows who is making the decision in a lot of families.

2. More and more kids are devastated by failure because they’ve gotten used to parents intervening and rescuing them. Teachers and coaches tell stories of parents who call to make a case for their kid getting a better grade or more playing time. This happens in high school and even college.

3. More and more kids are unwilling to take risks because their parents prioritized a risk free environment. It’s far better to let your kid take risks (and sometimes fail) when they are younger than when they are older. When I was a kid I rode my bike with my friends all over the neighborhood. This was the day before cell phones and the only rule was to be home either before dinner or before it got dark. If you do that today, the police might visit you.

4. More and more kids are shocked that they can’t do anything they want with their life because their parents always told them they could. It’s far better to help your kids match their strengths and gifts with their interests.

5. More and more kids are bored because their parents structured their day with planned activities never giving them the responsibility of developing their own interests. Did your parents plan your day when you were a kid? I know that I’m not the only one who remembers having to create new games or read books or make new friends to prevent boredom.

6. More and more kids lack a healthy sense of delayed gratification because their parents always gave them what they wanted. I meet high school seniors and college students who have never had jobs that required them to work for a non-family member, who have never saved their own money, or paid their own bills. Really?

One of the things that I appreciate about my parents is that they gradually turned over to me the responsibilities of being an adult so that when I left the house to go to college I was more or less ready to be independent. I’m afraid that’s not what’s happening in many families today. Instead of encouraging independence we are fostering dependence. Maybe next time we can discuss why that’s the case.

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