'Over-Parenting' Creates Weak, Frightened Kids

By Michaud, Anne | Winnipeg Free Press, February 9, 2013 | Go to article overview

'Over-Parenting' Creates Weak, Frightened Kids


Michaud, Anne, Winnipeg Free Press


Remember the expert advice that parental involvement is the key to kids' school success? Apparently, involvement can go too far.

A new survey of 128 guidance counselors, school psychologists and teachers asserts that many parents are overly engaged in their kids' schooling and, generally, in their lives -- and it's hurting the children's maturity and courage.

Many parents today are guilty of "over-parenting," according to the study out of the Queensland (Australia) University of Technology, which was highlighted in The Atlantic magazine.

It's not a big study, but it raises intriguing questions about how "excessive" parenting affects children.

The authors, who are psychology and education experts, find that "an extreme attentiveness to children and their imagined needs and issues" results in kids failing to learn independence, confidence or the skills to bounce back after a defeat.

This will not come as news to many educators, especially those who deal with families at upper socioeconomic levels, where the Queensland study says over-parenting is most prevalent.

Among the parental coddling cited is cutting up a 10-year-old's food, forbidding a 17-year-old to ride a train alone and rushing to school to deliver a forgotten lunch, assignment or gym clothes.

Survey respondents also listed these sins: taking the child's word against the teacher's, demanding better grades and doing the child's homework.

This list is probably sounding uncomfortably familiar to many parents, but surely it's a matter of degree. Are you dropping off a forgotten lunch a couple of times during the school year or delivering takeout to the child's class on demand? Is the child six or 16?

Helicopter parents who hover, and lawn-mower parents who remove any barrier or discomfort for their kids, are in danger of robbing their children of learning how to solve their own problems and deal with not getting what they want. …

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