Dear Maria: 

My husband and I have been very child-focused most of our lives. We have always put our children first. Many times we have stepped in and rescued and we think it's starting to cause issues. Do you think this parenting style is damaging and what are the consequences of our behavior as they mature? How do we stop it?

Thanks so much!

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As parents, we all have that innate desire to protect and provide for our children. However, doing too much for our children oftentimes fosters dependency and not independence. Of course, a lot depends on the age of your children. 

Younger children need more guidance as opposed to teenagers. Knowing when to step in and when to step away can be challenging. We, as parents, often want to jump in and rescue however, this relieves our own anxiety. For example, if you are afraid of your teen driving on the highway, and step in and offer to drive them, you are doing this to relieve your own anxious feelings, not theirs. Even if they are anxious driving, the only way they will overcome their fear, is by allowing them to do it. 

Good questions to ask yourself the next time your child asks you for something, are “Can they do this themselves?” and  “Am I doing something for them that they could learn and/or do for themselves?” If the answers are yes to both questions, then know that you are hurting them and not helping them.

Examining our own behavior and our own fears, will help in overcoming doing too much for our children. For further information, check out Hellenic Therapy Center’s blog To submit a question to Maria, email

Hellenic Therapy Center  
567 Park Ave.
Scotch Plains, NJ 07076
(908) 322-0112