Over mothering vs under mothering.

Sarah - posted on 11/30/2010 ( 26 moms have responded )




My husband has often accused me of "over-mothering" our two girls, especially when they're not well. My youngest is a little poorly at the moment, she has a cold and conjunctivitis. So she's been getting a little spoilt, lots of cuddles, a few extra snacks etc. This, according to my husband, is over-mothering.
I'll admit, I am a little more of a soft touch with the kids than he is, but I still lay down the law when it's needed. I guess because I'm with them more often, I tend to let the little things slide sometimes.

He grew up with quite a harsh mother, if he was ill, he was sent to bed and that was that. If he wasn't at deaths door, he was sent to school (my youngest isn't at school, but my eldest is, I wouldn't keep her off for any little thing though) he wouldn't get cuddles or anything. So my argument is that he was "under-mothered" and that's why he sees the way I am as "over-mothering"

So, do you think you over-mother or under-mother? What were your parents like?


Jessica - posted on 11/30/2010




Well to me, Sarah, what you're doing- i.e. being tender and taking care of your daughter while sick, is just natural to being a MOTHER. That's not spoiling your child, its doing what comes natural!

To me, I guess "over-mothering" would be things like, making a HUGE fuss over EVERY time your child got a minor scrape or bump (when they're not really hurt), or calling your child's friends' parents every time they do something and your child wasn't invited (I've heard of people doing it), or just general "helicopter parenting."

When I think of "under-mothering" I think of super strict austere authoritarian style parenting.

I think my mom was right in the middle growing up, and my dad was more of an "under-father".. lol. As for me now, well I think I am in danger of being an "over-mother." I don't want to be a helicopter parent, but I have a feeling I'm going to have to really work at backing off when needed! I don't mean things like giving too much cuddles or showing too much affection- especially at his age, I don't think there's any such thing. But as an example: I took my son (17 months) to toddler story time at the local library. Its fun, they play games, sing songs and read a story or two, and then there's a big gym that they open up and you can bring balls or other toys and everyone lets their kids run around and play for a while. Well Kieran was running around and really happy and excited at all the other kids playing (all around his age- a little older). About halfway through it I looked around and realized I was the only mom following my kid around to make sure he didn't fall or get trampled! I didn't even think about it- he was on the young end of the ages there, hadn't been walking long so wasn't as stable on his feet, and other kids were running full speed all around him and not looking where they were going (not that they were being bad, they were little kids playing and thats to be expected). So my natural instinct was to keep close to Kieran because I didn't want him to get knocked over and stepped on. But when I realized I was the only one I suddenly became self conscious- maybe I should back off a bit and let him run around on his own. Falls and run-ins with other kids are bound to happen after all. So I stopped hovering over him so closely, but it still made me really really nervous! I think I'm going to have to really concentrate on not being a "helicopter" parent!

Charlie - posted on 11/30/2010




I would say I over mother from a distance LOL , I kinda see this like the helicopter V free ranger , Im a free ranger but am still aware of what is happening .

My mother has an over motherer , Personally I found it stifling and had no real positives or benefits except annoy the crap out of me and push me away from her , really I think its about finding balance .


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[deleted account]

If a child is sick, they need some serious TLC. Im an adult and I HATE being sick... all i want is a big fat cuddle, and a back rub. sing to me, tell me its all going to be okay and ill coo at you in my croaky sick voice. hahaha.

your not over mothering, your mothering. period. Mothers are the nurturers of the parenting duo. Men are capable of nurturing, but its not there specialty so he will never understand. especially if his mother had issues with her role as the nurturer of the home. He obviously has deeper issues. he could even be jealous of the attention that your kids get from you. next time he is sick, dote on him too... once he sees what its like to be looked after when unwell, im sure he will feel differently about you taking care of the kids in a special way when they arent well.

plus, one parent has to be more of a softie than the other, or its gonna be one unbalanced household indeed! My hubby and I are very adament on how our homes run and how children are to behave. We are in agreement on the important things... but sometimes, daddy will take baby out of bed way past her bedtime because she woke up, just for ten minutes while mummy say "sigh she really should be sleeping" or mummy might give baby a bit of ice cream when she really doesnt need it while daddy just smiles and shakes his head.

its healthy for a kid to have a little bit of this going on. TLC is where its at for sick kids.

A - posted on 12/01/2010




I think I'm in the middle. Although some would argue I over mother. But its all perception I guess.

Patricia - posted on 12/01/2010




I agree when there is an illness we gotta be there for our kids no matter what their age....I remember when my oldest, son Kevin ( at the time he was 24 ) was having his appendix removed... his wife had to work and their daughter went to the sitters...I spent the night in his room with him making sure he was comfortable and I was there for him in case he needed me...THAT'S just what mothers do..... :-)

Sarah - posted on 12/01/2010




@Sarah (great name by the way hehehehe)
You sound like you had a pretty similar upbringing to me, although my Dad was quite strict and scary!!

I want the same as you do, to have my kids know I'm there for them, but also not leave them completely ill equipped for life!!

Sarah - posted on 11/30/2010




I was over-parented as a child & I loved every second of it haha. :) I say over-parented, because both my parents were on the same page with raising me. My parents weren't overbearing by any means, but I knew I could depend on my parents for pretty much anything I needed. At the same time, it did cause me to have issues with independence as an adult. It took me a long time to learn certain things in life...cooking, laundry, washing dishes, keeping house, etc. I was pretty spoiled & there wasn't a whole lot expected of me.

My son is only 14 months old, but I see myself as probably being a little over-mothering with him, too. I don't want him to be totally in the dark with basic life skills like I was though lol. I want to try to balance things out more so he can learn some independence, but also know that I'll always be there for him if he needs me.

Amanda - posted on 11/30/2010




Well my fiance is the same way your husband is! He is more strict with the discipline and I'm a stay at home mom and also do inhome daycare and I have 4 kids and none of them are my fiances, but he treats them like they are in every way. The kids love him and adore him even though they are disciplined so I don't think that discipline is bad, but I'm more of a softie. I give my 2 little ones snacks when they finish most of their meals. I mean a bite or 2 left is okay because they're only 1 and 2! Well almost 2 and 3! And I love to cuddle and snuggle, and when they're sick that's the BEST time to do it because my girls LOVE to cuddle when they're sick! My son knows he can pull one over on me and that's fine as long as he listens when he needs to and if not then I'll discipline him! :) I'm proud to say I'm an over-mother! And my fiance would have to be in the middle! :) My mom was loving, and caring. She cuddled us and was more of the softie. My dad on the other hand was the tough one until they divorced, than he was a softie! :)

Kate CP - posted on 11/30/2010




Who doesn't want a hug and a cuddle when they don't feel good?

I'm in the middle. If my daughter falls down I wait for her to give me a cue as to whether or not she needs me. I don't rush right over and baby her but if she's genuinely hurt or needs help I'm there in a heartbeat. She's only 4 so her chores are limited but she helps me out with things. But you can bet that I get my snuggles in whenever I can; I sing her to sleep; and I tell that girl I love her when she wakes up, when she goes to sleep, whenever one of us leaves, and any time in between when I think she needs to hear it again. She's my pride and joy and she knows it...but she also knows that I expect her to be kind and gracious; to do as she is told; and to be respectful.

When she's sick she gets away with a bit more than usual...but when you're sick, things just aren't easy.

Stifler's - posted on 11/30/2010




Eh my mum made us do things around the house but if we were sick she was good to us and read to us every night etc and helped with homework and taught us how to cook and made us pikelets for afternoon tea, she was a good balance. My dad's mum wouldn't let him leave home and wanted to do everything for him and he hated it. I'm a bit like "here's the baby... seeya!" when I'm down visiting my parents and want to go out but since I live up here I look after Logan pretty good and play with him and take him everywhere but don't coddle him all day and not let him explore the house.

[deleted account]

If I go by your two descriptions.... I'm a middle mother. ;) I am NOT a cuddler past preschoolish age... though I try cuz my girls ARE cuddlers. I do try to by sympathetic when they are sick, but when it's been a couple of days or all 3 are sick at the same time and I'm just beat.... I'm over it already. That's just details on the sickness issue, but I'm pretty much like that on everything. Some things I do for them, some I make them do for themselves.

I don't really remember enough details of my childhood to answer how my parents were.

Nikkole - posted on 11/30/2010




My mom was over-mother i couldn't go outside by myself till i was 17 had an 11pm curfew even tho i was really mature for my age! She wouldnt let me spend the night at friends house (she was terrified of me getting lice) no friends over to my house no going on walks,riding my bike, NOTHING i moved out at 18 and got married! I am not going to do that with my kids im not going to be to over-mother or under-mother im going to be in the middle because you dont want your kids to do whatever they want but you want them to have fun!

Ez - posted on 11/30/2010




I don't think there can be such a thing as 'over-mothering'. We are their mothers. We have maternal instincts that kick in when they are not well or upset for a reason. You can not spoil a child with attention or affection.

But in the interests of debate, my own mother and myself definitely fall into the 'over-mothering' category. My 21mth old just spent 4 days in hospital after a febrile convulsion (caused by nasty tonsillitis and infected lymph nodes) and she needed a lot (and I mean A LOT) of TLC. It would never have occurred to me to use tough love on her. I think it's insane.

Becky - posted on 11/30/2010




I think I'm just right! But if others were going to accuse me of something, it would probably be over-mothering. I'm very affectionate all the time and I spend a lot of time with my kids. That's not to say they don't play by themselves, because they do. But I'm always available to them. When they're sick, I spend most of the day cuddling on the couch with them, even though it means I get very little else done. When they're hurt, I cuddle them and kiss it better. I think I've gone a little bit overboard on that though, because my oldest is a bit of a drama queen when he gets hurt now! Maybe it's just the age. I don't let them cry it out, and I do tend to be pretty easy-going in regards to misbehavior. They definitely don't get away with everything, but I look at a lot of things as them being the age they are and learning, rather than them being deliberately defiant and disobedient, so I deal with it from that standpoint, which generally means I'm less harsh with them, then say, my husband is.
Of course, as I was typing my reply the first time, my 2 1/2 year old was helping himself to an orange in the kitchen and getting orange pieces and juice all over the floor! So, I don't think I go overboard on the mothering! :)

[deleted account]

I'd like to think I'm somewhere in the middle and I probably am most of the time at home but in public, I think I tend to over-parent.

Hannah - posted on 11/30/2010




I agree that there needs to be a balance. My mother for the most part was very strict but she was also very loving. I think she found a wonderful balance and it shaped who I am today. I hope to be as good, if not better at it. There were a few things I would have changed.

Veronica - posted on 11/30/2010




A balance is needed - Im a bit of both, but in particular situations that call for it. My children do chores - what I feel is age appropriate (they are 7years old and younger). My mom had us doing chores from very young - and I respect and thank her for it, because I know how to take care of my own home - and its clockwork - i know how to clean like the back of my hand. As for when they are sick - well, today my daughter has the flu - she is out in the living room, relaxing and watching some cartoons - home from school. Im putting together a chicken broth soup for her - it doesnt pay to make anything else - esp. when its coming back up -- Im more concerned for her hydration than anything. But im not sitting and cuddling with her - I have too much else to take care of - including four other children, and housework to do. The over-mothering thing i would say that i do - is when there are issues - good or bad -- i make sure im right on top of it - to help them solve the issue.
Over the weekend, I had a proud moment. We were at my brothers home for the holiday - and my neice hit one of my son's -- my oldest son went over to the two, and asked my neice to apologize for hitting, which she did, and then he asked his brother if he was ok. And he is 6 years old. I was one proud mama :)
I guess you do what you feel is right for the situation - as long as your children are safe, loved, and taken care of - thats what is more important :)

Tara - posted on 11/30/2010




Well science has proven that when we feel good emotionally, we heal faster. That's why laughter really is good medicine. When my kids are ill, I'm not any more affectionate than I am otherwise, but I am more attentive to their needs, they do get more attention, more extras etc. and more of my attention.
We play cards, I let the girls put make up on me and do my hair etc. just stuff that makes them feel better and maybe offers a little chuckle.

In general I don't do either. I'm in the middle, just good enough. Not too much and not too little, just the right amount of both and a good measure of balance.
My ex's mom was a hard ass, you had to pretty much be bleeding out your eyes to stay from school. She was mean, in bed, lights out all day long. Only up for bathroom breaks, no reading, no drawing etc. he said he never wanted to stay home even when he was sick!!
You're doing things just right. Balanced and it's good that way.

[deleted account]

There's a BIG difference between being affectionate and tending to your child's needs... and being a hovering, paranoid, do it all for the kids mother. You are the former. And I think it's a good thing. =)

Bonnie - posted on 11/30/2010




I don't feel that you can truly over mother when your children are sick, especially when they are little. They need the attention and they want the attention. My mother was and still is an over motherer. At times I think I am an over motherer and other times an under motherer. I want my kids to be able to do for themselves and learn on their own, but sometimes it just doesn't work and the over mother in me kicks in lol.

Patricia - posted on 11/30/2010




Well....I have been accused of being both actually...go figure! Jiminey Crickets!!!!! Either I am not spending enough time with my youngest daughter ( only one left home outta 3 kids ) now almost 18... or I am told that I spoil her rotten!! Sheesh!!! Batta Batta Bing goes the ping pong ball!!! hahaha!!
I say this...." I am doing the BEST job that I possibly can considering I have great physical limitations due to illness....its easy for one of my oldest children to point fingers when they only have one 3 yr old daughter...right! lol
Be all that you can be...but most of all ya gotta BELIEVE in YOU MOM!!!
Everyone's childhoods were NOT the same....so who really is anyone to judge us!!!
Can I get an AaaaaMEN!!! LOL

Sarah - posted on 11/30/2010




Yeah I agree with that Loureen. I don't want my kids to be totally unprepared for the real world like I was.
In saying that, my Mum wasn't really a helicopter Mum, I was free to go out and try new things and all that. I just didn't have to do anything at home!

That's probably why I'm so messy and disorganised as a grown up! I think Cadence is more organised than I am!

Sarah - posted on 11/30/2010




When I was sick and off school, my Dad would say I had to stay in bed all day, but once he'd gone to work my Mum would let me get up and lay on the couch! hehehe.

I think I was definitely over-mothered. To the point where I didn't even know how to work a washing machine until I left home, and I never had to do any chores or anything like that. I was really quite spoilt in that way.

I'm not as over-mothering as my Mum was though, not by a long way! My kids have to tidy up and I'm not completely wrapped around their fingers. (just a little bit hehehe)

Nikki - posted on 11/30/2010




My mum always said "if your home from school the least that you can do is unpack the dishwasher and vacuum!" yeah sure mum ill just vomit in between hey? I over mother, maybe I do it to compensate for my childhood, who knows? I don't think it is harmful as long as you have some kind of balance, it's important for children to have independence and make decisions for themselves but I just love mothering her as much as I can right now.

Kerry - posted on 11/30/2010




My mum was an intentional under mother. Especially in our adolescent years. She wasn't harsh, she just let us make our own decisions and mistakes. So, I guess thats a bit what I'm like too even with my young boys. When they get hurt of course i cuddle and reassure but i let them have their space. As i type my oldest is out the front playing with his much older friends while i secretly watch through the window but if he gets hurt, I'm out there with the first aid kit and his favourite teddy :/

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