Can you be TOO GOOD of a parent?

[deleted account] ( 27 moms have responded )

What is the definition of helicopter-parenting? Can we be too "perfect" as parents?



Here is a (long) article from The Atlantic.



--------------------



How to Land Your Kid in Therapy

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/arch...



But after working with these patients over time, I came to believe that no florid denial or distortion was going on. They truly did seem to have caring and loving parents, parents who gave them the freedom to “find themselves” and the encouragement to do anything they wanted in life. Parents who had driven carpools, and helped with homework each night...had gotten them tutors when they struggled in math, and music lessons when they expressed an interest in guitar (but let them quit when they lost that interest), and talked through their feelings when they broke the rules, instead of punishing them (“logical consequences” always stood in for punishment). In short, these were parents who had always been “attuned,” as we therapists like to say... Was it possible these parents had done too much?



Here I was, seeing the flesh-and-blood results of the kind of parenting that my peers and I were trying to practice with our own kids, precisely so that they wouldn’t end up on a therapist’s couch one day. We were running ourselves ragged in a herculean effort to do right by our kids—yet what seemed like grown-up versions of them were sitting in our offices, saying they felt empty, confused, and anxious. Back in graduate school, the clinical focus had always been on how the lack of parental attunement affects the child. It never occurred to any of us to ask, what if the parents are too attuned? What happens to those kids?



--------------------



It may answer Dana's question about "entitled kids."

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Riana - posted on 07/05/2011

230

11

10

Interesting however I tend to see all of this very differently.

Coming back to parents who use spanking although I don’t agree with the violence or the negativity of it that is not my only problem with spanking.

It is essentially a ‘substitute’ punishment that has no relation to the child’s actions. It is a way for parents to justify the fact that they are controlling the child’s environment by also controlling the child’s actions within this ‘protective’ shell they create. In essence they are protecting the child from the influence of the real world by taking the responsibility onto them as parents to correct the child’s mistakes. It is a control game of putting your child inside the little box of your preconceived ideas for them and shielding them from any dangers that the real world might hold.

‘Helicopter parenting’, to me, sounds like exactly the same thing except that the parent now tries to justify this by using love instead of violence but still they try to control both the child and his/her environment and the child ends up feeling ‘empty, confused, and anxious’.

If controlling and shielding your child through love instead of violence is your definition of positive parenting then you are still MISSING THE POINT.

Positive parenting, to me, means taking a step back and giving the child room to be their own person. Your role changes from protector to mediator and this is the hardest part! The instinct to protect our children is essential to their survival but because it is such an overwhelming emotion it’s very hard to balance and can easily become destructive. You have to let go and allow them to make their own mistakes and take responsibility for those mistakes. You have to allow them to fall, to fail and yes to love and to succeed.

Having a child is not your second chance to be the person you’ve always wanted to be it’s their only chance to be the person they want to be.

[deleted account]

If your Too good of a parent(helicopter parent in my eyes) then to me personally your smothering your kids.They won't have time to grow and learn for themselves.You can't raise kids by being on top of them constantly.Half of what i learnt as a kid growing up was due to having my freedom age appropriately of course and learning and figuring things out for myself.

So very important and what i have taken on board as a parent myself in raising my two girls.

Praise as a small child is good and i agree with Chatty Mak example in her comment there.Well put.

Jaime - posted on 07/19/2011

4,427

24

196

I watched a documentary last year called 'Hyper Parents & Coddled Kids' and it describes helicopter parenting quite well. It also gave the perspective of these 20 something kids that end up feeling inadequate in their college years because there is an intense fear of failure and disappointment regardless of the fact that their parents have always been supportive. One kid even said that praise is becoming the new criticism...

I agree with Dana that this article isn't a slight against positive discipline, but it does document the extreme end of positive parenting. There IS such a thing as being too involved, too loving, too praising, too in-tune with what your kids are doing....just as the other extreme suggests an unhealthy relationship with kids (no affection, attention, encouragement, etc...), so does helicopter parenting. Balance really is the key component of all facets of humanity...especially when considering the impact and influence of an emotional connection (which is our main sense of cognitive communication).

[deleted account]

LOL, Dana. "I'll be back!"



I think it's a complex topic. It's hard to discuss, so everyone worries they aren't making sense. But mostly I blame the vagueness of the article. It muddles together several issues that I have a hard time figuring out. But maybe that's a personal problem on my part.



Elfrieda, I know what you mean. TLP is very rambling -- and angry about our culture. But that's another topic entirely, and I kind of wish I hadn't brought him up. These issues are complicated enough without going to a meta-level.



For me, Riana (in a non-ranty, non-angry way) got to the same crux of matters. WHY is the parent doing something? If the parent wants to control everything out of fear, is narcissistic, and has too much to lose ego-wise, it really doesn't matter if they choose spanking or positive parenting, or find the most "correct" method. It all comes from a bad place.

[deleted account]

Liz, just yesterday we were at park and there was this mom who would NOT let go of her child's hand while he was running around the playground. She even went up on the bridge with him and walked him to the slide, sat him down on her lap and insisted he go down like that. Granted I don't know all the specifics, but fuck me, that had to be annoying. You could see the toddler just looking, itching for a way to escape. To me, THAT is helicopter parenting. SHE was afraid, he wasn't.

My cousin is another good example. Gah! We don't live in the same city, but when I took Roxanne to visit, she wouldn't even come to the playground with us because she thinks they're unsafe and unsanitary. Her daughter is a year and a half older than Roxanne. She can get along fine at a park. My cousin isn't doing her daughter any favors.

Those are just a couple examples that come to mind.

Don't get me wrong, I'm cautious, and always nearby and listening but I give Roxanne some space. She needs to explore and learn and figure things out for herself. Unless there's a real physical threat, I leave her to her own devices.

And, after reading back over your original post, I can see what you're talking about in regards to the logical consequences being substituted for punishment, but I guess that statement didn't bother me, because I think I have a good balance of discipline and punishment. AND, I think whoever wrote that doesn't understand what logical consequences are. They're designed to teach and they ARE punishment in themselves so....

If you see this, leave this form field blank.
Powered by RESPECT not THUMPS

27 Comments

View replies by

[deleted account]

Praise is the new criticism.



LOVE IT! Why is it not enough for our children (in general, not necessarily OUR children) to feel their own sense of accomplishment and pride. Why do so many parents have the unconscious, incessant NEED to praise and reward their kids?



I definitely agree that it's doing more hurt than good, in the long run anyhow. I think the only time extra praise is warranted is when children are very young; babies and young toddlers have to learn what is appropriate and what isn't and praising them in an excitable manner when they master a new skill or act in an appropriate or desirable manner, helps them to learn, BUT if you're over the top and praise them EVERY SINGLE TIME they do something, especially when it's repeatedly for the same thing they've already mastered and done 1000 times, it's doing them a huge disservice.



An example: Roxanne is potty trained during the day now at almost 3 years, and several months ago when she first decided to use the toilet on her own, we gave her tons of praise and encouragement and "high fives" and "good job".......BUT, once she mastered the toilet, and I realized that she would STILL come up to me just to tell me she peed in the toilet, expecting me to praise her, I quickly realized that I didn't need to do that anymore, so instead I opened a dialogue with her about how it made HER feel to be able to go to the washroom on her own.



Huge light bulb moment for me! I've said this before, but, kids need to shit on the toilet because having a bowel movement is *super* satisfying, NOT because they think mommy and daddy will be proud.

Jane - posted on 07/11/2011

2,390

262

484

According to our local teachers, a helicopter parent is one who browbeats teachers into giving their kid good grades even though they didn't earn them. That's what makes kids feel "entitled."

[deleted account]

"If the parent wants to control everything out of fear, is narcissistic, and has too much to lose ego-wise, it really doesn't matter if they choose spanking or positive parenting, or find the most "correct" method. It all comes from a bad place."

I could not agree with that more. THAT is what I've been saying, but apparently not very well. I dunno...*shrugs*

[deleted account]

Thanks for those examples, Dana. Your cousin is a troubling one. Playgrounds are unsafe and unsanitary? If a playground isn't safe for a child, what possibly is, other than the inside of her own home?



When our son was 6 or 7mo, we took him to the playground by our flat. He was too young to do anything, really (still is mostly) -- but we held him in sitting position on a ridey-bouncy thing. The first thing he did was put his mouth to the handle bar and SUCK on it. I had this momentary freak-out inside my mind. Gosh, it was unpleasant. I can't imagine living constantly in a state like that. As Shannin would say, too lazy.

[deleted account]

ugh. I feel like I just threw up a bunch of words on the page. I'm not making much sense either, but for some reason I cannot focus my thoughts right now, so I'll come back when I can. I won't delete my previous comment, but please beware that my thoughts aren't finished.

Elfrieda - posted on 07/05/2011

2,620

0

458

Hmm, just reread and don't know if that makes any sense.

Have I mentioned that the afternoon is not my most alert time?

Elfrieda - posted on 07/05/2011

2,620

0

458

I thought that the first article was a reasonable, openminded look at the possible downsides to "good parenting" as defined by society right now. I thought it was very fair, because she wasn't attacking anybody, she was rethinking her own parenting philosophy because of some "results" (her clients) of very similar parenting weren't turning out the way she hopes her own child to be. Wow, that was a run-on sentence, but I just don't see how to rephrase it, so I'll just apologize! Sorry about that. :P

The next article seemed a little wild-eyed and defensive to me. I kept wondering if the author read the same article I read. I mean, he made some valid points, but it made me think he was really high-strung. Kind of like when my sister (in university) watched "Tangled" and then went on a rant to me about the terrible messages being sent. I didn't quite follow, but there was something about golden glowing hair that can heal turning into brown hair when it's cut and dead. Also the villain had dark, curly hair. Also Rapunzel's weapon was a frying pan. I'm all, "Dude, it's a Disney movie, what do you expect?" and she's all, "Objectification of women! Orientalization of the Other!" :) To me, while I could see her points, it just seems too much effort to really get upset about it. Same with this second article.

[deleted account]

No, I don't think you're crazy, Dana. :)

I think the article is vague. It confused me because it seemed to criticize several positive parenting strategies like logical consequences, for instance. (I bolded that part in the OP.)

I started this thread because I wanted to know what helicopter-parenting was, exactly.

Can you give me some examples of what you've witnessed?

Jenni - posted on 07/05/2011

5,928

34

373

Bah, I was going to say something along the lines of what Riana posted more eloquently and insightful than I would of. ;)



I'm not sure IF that is what the article was implying or if it was an attack on positive parenting, persay. But I think it does bring up a lot of fallicies associated with positive parenting.



I am a positive disciplining parent (duh) but to me IF this article is implying that because of that I am a helicopter parent or am over praising my child for miniscule accomplishments that would be the same as imply a parent who spanks as a last resort is an abusive parent. Or that they beat their child. Or any other extreme of that parenting philosophy.



I think helicoptering and all the other points made by the article is just a warning that people can take positive discipline too far to one extreme and it can be damaging. Just as parents who spank can take it to an extreme and it can be damaging.



We need to understand that balance is usually always the best approach to any method. Any method taken to the extreme can have ill effects.



When my child does something I like or I think is good behaviour. I don't need to overpraise him for it. A simple, "Good job kid." will suffice.

When my child hurts himself, I don't mirror his fear. I say: "Are you ok?" calmly. "Do you need a hug? Ok, all better now, let's go play". There is nothing wrong with addressing when a child is hurt, scared or engages in a positive behaviour but we don't need to over emphasize it either.

In the same sense that when a child engages in a negative behaviour, we don't have to over emphasize that. Just I simple discussion of why we don't engage in that behaviour. A spanking or yelling is overkill IMO. Just as over praising is overkill.



So basically, what I gathered from the article is we need balance in our approaches. Any extreme can be detrimental.

[deleted account]

Ok, here's the thing.....I understood this article differently than the two of you then, because I understood that they were referring to the "helicopter" parent, which I am NOT. I don't think they were bashing positive parenting.....I think they were talking about EXTREME over-parenting. We've had people in this community before who were/are like the examples they described. For instance....



The example they gave about offering a child choices. I DO believe in offering a child choices, but TOO MANY choices is counterproductive and will have a negative affect. There has to be a balance, like with anything in life. You can't be too extreme one way or the other.



A helicopter parent to me is someone who hovers, and is completely different from what I'm practicing. I practice positive discipline.....I'm not an extremist. I don't fall into that "attachment parent" category, nor am I a helicopter parent.



Riana, Liz.....I don't think helicopter parents are all that rare. I've witnessed MANY.



So, am I understanding you guys correctly? You think that this article is somehow bashing US, as positive discipline parents? I didn't take it that way. Maybe I'm crazy.

Riana - posted on 07/05/2011

230

11

10

I agree that true helicopter parents must be very rare but being over protective is a easy and common mistake that parents make, even I close my eyes at times and say 'World please be gentle with this child of mine...' BUT this will never happen, the world will never be gentle it will only ever be real and if I try to protect my children from it's challenges I will also be protecting them from it's rewards.

It reminds of Bette Midler's song "Wind beneath my wings" that always makes me think of my dad, so god forbid I ever become a helicopter or lawn mower or anything remotely similar I hope one day my kids can also think of me as the wind beneath their wings instead :-))

http://youtu.be/c9ZMDPf9hZw

[deleted account]

Their Baby Boomer[5] parents in turn earned notoriety for practices such as calling their children each morning to wake them up for class and complaining to their professors about grades the children had received.



Maybe we throw around these terms too much -- you know, just as a way of insulting other parents.



True helicopter parenting must be rare. (I hope it's rare!) My husband has taught at university for nearly 20 years, and no parent has yet called him about their child's mark. :)

Riana - posted on 07/05/2011

230

11

10

LOL yes think it's safe to say we don't quite qualify as helicopter or lawnmower parents, can you imagine? I would love to see my dad's face if I called him up and said so when you negociating my next salary rise?

Riana - posted on 07/05/2011

230

11

10

LOL yes think it's safe to say we don't quite qualify as helicopter or lawnmower parents, can you imagine? I would love to see my dad's face if I called him up and said so when you negociating my next salary rise?

Riana - posted on 07/05/2011

230

11

10

As a matter of intrest I looked up the definition of helicopter parenting, very very different from positive parenting if you ask me...

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Helicopter parent is a colloquial, early 21st-century term for a parent who pays extremely close attention to his or her child's or children's experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. The term was originally coined by Foster W. Cline, M.D. and Jim Fay in their 1990 book Parenting with Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility,[1] although Dr. Haim Ginott mentions a teen who complains, "Mother hovers over me like a helicopter..." on page 18 of the bestselling book Between Parent & Teenager published in 1969. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover closely overhead, rarely out of reach, whether their children need them or not. In Scandinavia, this phenomenon is known as curling parenthood and describes parents who attempt to sweep all obstacles out of the paths of their children. It is also called "overparenting". Parents try to resolve their child's problems, and try to stop them coming to harm by keeping them out of dangerous situations.[2][3]

Some college professors and administrators[who?] are now referring to "Lawnmower parents" to describe mothers and fathers who attempt to smooth out and mow down all obstacles, to the extent that they may even attempt to interfere at their children's workplaces, regarding salaries and promotions, after they have graduated from college and are supposedly living on their own. As the children of "helicopter parents" graduate and move into the job market, personnel and human resources departments are becoming acquainted with the phenomenon as well. Some have reported that parents have even begun intruding on salary negotiations.[4]

[deleted account]

Riana, that was incredibly insightful. Thanks for your comments!



Your last paragraph sounds like what the Last Psychiatrist said in his post:



Here's what a therapist should say: "too perfect" parents who coddle and overprotect their kids aren't doing it for their kids, they are doing it for themselves, in defense of their own ego; and that, not the bike helmets, is why their kids end up adrift and confused.

[deleted account]

What is helicopter-parenting, though? I found the article vague, and it took a sneering tone towards some positive parenting strategies (like explaining, logical consequences, and offering choices) and comforting children (the tripping on a rock example).



The overall narrative rubbed me the wrong way, even though some of the individual quotations from psychologists, etc. were insightful.



I think people think OTHER people are helicopter parents, anyone who does more/is "softer"/does things differently than us. A lot of the pro-spanking/hot-sauce-in-the-mouth moms that we argue with on here would point to the article as evidence that WE are too soft and turning our kids into freaks.



Haven't they already said as much? So I agree with The Last Psychiatrist that the article is more about self-justification than better parenting.



(I agree with you that telling our children how special, intelligent, and talented they are is counter-productive. Praise effort, not qualities -- from Brain Rules quiz.)

[deleted account]

AMAZING article. I found it very insightful, and it totally made sense to me, BUT, I don't consider myself to be a helicopter parent. I agreed with most everything that was said, or could at least make sense of it, anyhow.

This stood out to me....

"When ego-boosting parents exclaim “Great job!” not just the first time a young child puts on his shoes but every single morning he does this, the child learns to feel that everything he does is special. Likewise, if the kid participates in activities where he gets stickers for “good tries,” he never gets negative feedback on his performance. (All failures are reframed as “good tries.”) According to Twenge, indicators of self-esteem have risen consistently since the 1980s among middle-school, high-school, and college students. But, she says, what starts off as healthy self-esteem can quickly morph into an inflated view of oneself—a self-absorption and sense of entitlement that looks a lot like narcissism. In fact, rates of narcissism among college students have increased right along with self-esteem.

Meanwhile, rates of anxiety and depression have also risen in tandem with self-esteem. Why is this? “Narcissists are happy when they’re younger, because they’re the center of the universe,” Twenge explains. “Their parents act like their servants, shuttling them to any activity they choose and catering to their every desire. Parents are constantly telling their children how special and talented they are. This gives them an inflated view of their specialness compared to other human beings. Instead of feeling good about themselves, they feel better than everyone else.”

[deleted account]

It's a lot of reading, I'm afraid. :)



The Last Psychiatrist tends to be rambling and not always focused on his original point. I tried to cut and paste the most direct points.



When I first saw The Atlantic piece I have to admit that I started wondering whether I was a helicopter parent who was ruining my son's future happiness with positive parenting.



But something bugged me big time about the article. It just didn't make a lot of sense to me. I don't think the point of positive parenting or attachment parenting is to give children a false or overly inflated sense of self-esteem. It's to give them a sense of security.



And anyway, I don't think positive parenting is helicopter parenting.

[deleted account]

Very interesting, Liz. I'll be back when I have more time to read this properly, free from toddler interruptions.

[deleted account]

Or does it...?



Here's a very interesting criticism/dissection of the article and its writer by a blogger called The Last Psychiatrist (who is a psychiatrist).



--------------------



Is The Cult Of Self-Esteem Ruining Our Kids?

http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2011/06/i...



(( Consider a toddler who's running in the park and trips on a rock... some parents swoop in immediately, pick up the toddler, and comfort her in that moment of shock, before she even starts crying....



"Well-intentioned parents have been metabolizing [the kids'] anxiety for them their entire childhoods," [psychologist] Mogel said of these kids, "so they don't know how to deal with it when they grow up." ))




The above consonants and vowels completely correspond with the preferred logic of Atlantic readers, but I'd like you to consider, for a moment, the kind of atrociously malignant parent that does not rush to comfort their toddler "even before she starts crying." Are you raising a ninja? "I just let her feel the burn, get used to the sight of blood. Builds character." Pass me that hammer, I want to build your character.



No one who doesn't eat human flesh would let their kid cry and do nothing. So what is the purpose of this logic if it actually defies reality?



[...]



And there's an awesome, unintentional subtext: parents are overinvolved with their kids because they want what's best for them, but this has the perverse effect of harming them, and so........... it's ok not to be. Why don't you get a facial?



It is certainly ok/infinitely preferable not to spend so much time with your kids. But saying you're doing it because it's good for the kids is like saying you're getting an Asian massage because it's good for Asians.



[...]



Gottlieb wants it to be true that the cult of self-esteem is ruining our kids, but the cult of self-esteem has already ruined the kids who are now adults. It produced her. And now they are raising new kids, well or badly I have no idea, but their main preoccupation isn't with raising better kids but with self-justification.



[...]



Gottlieb wants it to be true that overparenting and artificial self-esteem is causing kids to become narcissists, but that's all defense. Overparenting doesn't cause narcissism, narcissism causes narcissism.



--------------------

If you see this, leave this form field blank.
Powered by RESPECT not THUMPS

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms