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The Dangers of Over-Parenting

The dangers of over-parenting

The other day I told my sister that I would be coming over to see her two year old son. She told me, “Come between 5 and 6 pm. You will not be able to see him otherwise.” Apparently He sleeps between 3 and 5 pm and after six is his dinner and story time.


I share the story with a friend and am met with a cold stare. “Just because your sister brings up her child with discipline and you do not does not mean its something to jeer,” I am told. Later I call to ask another friend if I can come over. “Just hold, let me check if that is ok with my daughter.”

I think I’ve stepped into another universe. When I vent out about parents and their one Goded-universe, I’m trying to laugh and find fellow-jeerers and I’m constantly met with people who stare at me.

Can I get back to my universe please?

In my universe parents decided, children complied. In my universe after we were told five time and we still did not listen we got a sharp slap. In my universe we did not have to say thank you to our children when they were instructed to pick up their own litter and throw it in the bin AND they decided to comply. In my universe children didn’t take vital decisions for the family. In my universe when I child was reprimanded, no one wondered about the psychological implications of it. We were sorted out.

Of course it is another generation now and things have to change. Children are more aware of everything around them and when I spank my kid, she turns around, meets my eye and tells me in a low firm voice, “You will NOT hit me again.” Phew! When I tell my son he cannot wear a particular outfit and he asks me, “Why” and I say, after a pause, “Because mamma says so”, I know it is not good enough.

I know that I’ll soon have to think of a more logical, cohesive response to their whys.

I turn to my role model and parenting expert Swati Popat Vats and relate my woes. Her response is a relief. Yes, she says there is over-parenting going on and yes, she adds, it is not good for kids. This is what she recommends:

  1. Taking permission for every thing is not sensible parenting because it somewhere gives control of situations in the hands of the child instead of parents and this may turn out to be detrimental in the long run. (Aaah!!)
  2. Instead of seeking permissions it would be better if parents gave choices, giving choices helps in many ways. For one, it helps brain development as choices make the brain think and this is good for prefrontal lobe development, choices gives a chance to the child to be in control and choices help us as parents control the wide range that we want to offer or make available for the child.
  3. Yes some parents are confused maybe because of too much ‘information overload’. Listen to your instincts. Instinctive parenting is better in every way because there is no ‘one size fits all parenting’.
  4. Learn to listen to your kids, learn to observe and then listen to your ‘sixth sense’ I think that is what many call ‘sensible parenting’.

Dr Ekta Bhatia, director of Lil Munchkins endorses that quite a few of the parents she encounters nowadays, too, do think their kids are God. “Some of them needed to be talked to, some will simply not listen,” she says. “The ones who listen are those who’ve given importance to their kids to cover-up for some inadequacy or their own. The ones who do not listen are those who think they are themselves great and thus, their kids are also perfect.”

When you over-parent, you’re actually making life difficult for your child/children later in their lives. A senior executive of a foreign bank observed that the youngsters in her team can no longer work on stress-filled projects. “After a gap of ten days, they need a break.” When you constantly buffer kids from ‘stress’ you actually do not allow them to learn how to deal with the ups and downs of life. In a while they will grow up, will have to meet with world without their parental buffer and that’s when they may, perhaps, not be able to stand up to it.

As we all learn, there is no right and wrong in parenting. We must be open to change and open to accepting what works and what did not work. As Swati says, “At the end of the day every parent wants the same thing: happy children.”

Over parenting, over protection… whatever the word you choose to use, it means one thing. You’re doing too much of it. Use your instinct to sometimes NOT intervene. Stand back and be witness. Because it is now you can guide your child through the process of growing. There are some things you simply cannot stand back and witness—a child touching an electrical point—but all of us know that there are things in which—perhaps—it would be better in the long run to give your child the space to learn and fend for himself/herself.

So learn about child development and then try and use it as much as possible in your interactions and understanding of your children and when all else fails, take a deep breath, cool down and start again. Parenting is often like a snake and ladders game. Going down the snake does not mean you’re out of the game. It means you have a chance to start again.

As for me, please help me god to adjust to this universe and find better answers to my children’s whys.


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2 thoughts on “The Dangers of Over-Parenting

  1. Meera

    hi vinitha — hope we have not travelled too far from that universe! Agree that we should give choices and not seek permission — yes thanking or praising for small feats (reflecting on what gayathri had written a while back) does not help children – definitely in the long run!

  2. Praneeta

    Nice article. Very insightful. Choices with consequences – that was my universe. Served me well in life. Now for my kids…


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