Over-Indulgence And Over-Attentiveness - Two Dangers Parents Must Avoid!
We're all familiar with the over-indulgent parent. But there's another parenting practice that can be equally harmful: over-attentiveness.
It's possible to be one or the other - or in some cases, both!
Let's look first of all at the differences.
I'm sure you've come across the stereotype: Parents who constantly ply their kids with material goods and treats of every kind, and who will go to any length to ensure their little darlings want for nothing, but have the biggest and best of everything.
This behaviour is always prompted by a certain lack or need within the parents. They often dote on their kids, but what such parents are really doing is attempting to work out their own inadequacies.
Perhaps they lacked attention when they were kids - and it hurt. Maybe they had to go without things - and it was humiliating. Now they make up for it by ensuring that THEIR kids have everything!
Or it could be that they lack confidence in their parenting abilities, and have no real interest in kids.
They are unsure how to relate to children, yet have a need (or at least a desire) to be liked, appreciated, or accepted - and they think over-indulging their kid's every whim is the way to do it.
This can have disastrous consequences for the child's development.
For a start, such children become self-centred, spoiled, and unhealthy. Often they become disrespectful, since children are adept at spotting parental weaknesses, which they soon come to despise.
Later in life these over-indulged kids tend to develop further problems, such as eating disorders, weight-related health issues, addictions, and they often lack patience and tolerance when they can't instantly get their own way.
On the other hand there can be parents who, while not over- indulging their kids, try to supervise every aspect of their lives.
They watch them at play, they stand over them doing homework, and if there's the slightest hint of a problem at school - either with a friend or a teacher - they're down there creating a scene!
This behaviour, too, is prompted by a need within the parent, usually a deep-seated fear or anxiety about the normal risks in everyday life, which they feel they must protect their children from.
The effects of over-attentiveness can be more subtle - but equally harmful.
Because such children have not been allowed to experiment with life - to climb trees and cut their knees, to have altercations with others and realise their own way is not the only, or even the best, way - they tend to develop fear and timidity whenever their mentor is not there sticking up for them.
They have been deprived of a testing-ground in which to develop their strengths and become aware of their shortcomings. This often breeds embarrassment as well as resentment, and the poor parents are baffled! They've only been doing their duty, after all!
There can be an even more serious consequence when the child becomes an adult: Decision-making becomes a problem.
Taking decisions involves the weighing up of risks, a consideration of the pros and cons in a situation. If this skill has not been developed in childhood - if the child has been deprived of the opportunity - then he will be an indecisive adult who lacks the confidence to be effective.
The solution for overindulgent and over-attentive parents is one I keep stressing in my writing: They need to develop confidence in themselves.
But they needn't despair, as opportunities for development abound.
If you feel any of this applies to you, check out these opportunities. Visit your local college, bookshop or library, go online - see what's on offer. You'll be spoiled for choice.
But take action. Just do it!
You can begin to understand your own needs in a relatively short time, and with insight into your own psychological and emotional make-up, you will begin to look at your kids in a different light.
You will begin to moderate the amount of indulgence, because the need to over-compensate will no longer be there.
If you recognise your own fears and anxieties, you'll be less likely to pass them on to your kids by being over- attentive.
Supervise your children and help them steer clear of danger, yes - but let them manage their own conflicts. You can be there on the sidelines with words of support, advice and encouragement - but them experience the rough and tumble of life for themselves.
Knowing you're giving your child a solid preparation for the future, you'll feel satisfaction in a job well done.
Why do some parents and children succeed, while others fail? Frank McGinty is an internationally published author and teacher. If you want to develop your parenting skills and encourage your kids to be all they can be, visit his web pages, http://www.frank-mcginty.com/peace-formula.html AND http://www.frank-mcginty.com/for-parents.html
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