As parents, we all have that innate desire to protect and provide for our kids. Yet, at some point we must ask ourselves, Are we doing too much for them?
We are all guilty of mild and extreme acts of over-protectiveness and over- parenting that can be very damaging to our children. Many parents are willing to overextend themselves in catering to their children and excessively meeting their needs. Parents may feel surprised or resentful when their children grow up feeling unable to take care of themselves. Doing too much for our children fosters dependence not independence.
How do you know if you are doing too much? Do you feel burned out and put upon? You can determine if you are an over-functioner if: you tend to move quickly with advice; think that the more you do, the more you love them; think you know what’s best, not only for yourself but for others; correct problems and do not allow children to struggle on their own and find their own solutions. Parents sometimes cannot sit with their own anxiety and instead jump in too quickly to rescue and inadvertently rob their children of the skills and practice that are necessary to develop competence and mastery in life.
Children who are not permitted to think for themselves and to solve their own problems have a heightened need for attention and approval, and have difficulty dealing with expectations. They also may have a tendency to blame themselves or others, and feel responsible for the happiness of others. On the other hand, parents begin to feel resentful, overwhelmed and carry on an attitude like that of a martyr.
Good questions to ask yourself the next time your child asks you for something, are “can they do this themselves?” “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 with kindness.
At the Hellenic Therapy Center, 567 Park Avenue, Scotch Plains, New Jersey, we specialize in family, individual and couples therapy. We have a team of professionals who can guide you with parenting and family issues. Visit our website www.hellenictherapy.com or call 908-322-0112.