Where do you draw the line between absent parenting and Overparenting?

Balancing Act: How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Absent Parenting and Overparenting

Of the many transformations that the world has seen in the past fold of years, the biggest shift is in the ways of parenting. The modern scape has changed the complete dynamics of a child and parent relationship. As such, the current generation of parents is battling between the lines of Absent parenting and Overparenting.

Parenting that was once about dictating rules on the kid is now more about letting the kid dictate. Parents today are more open and approachable. They are more understanding and hold an open mind to all kinds of ideas. 

The new-age parenting is all about bridging the generation gap.

Today parents strive to fit in the role of a child’s best friend. They want to keep their children close. Thus, keeping the doors of communications open from both ways.

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The old vs the new – Which one is right?

Somewhere between adapting the modern ways of parenting and walking the experienced way, every parent is confused! In an age, where a 12-year-old behaves like an 18-year-old, how should parents act? 

Should they give space to their children or should they keep a close check on the kid? The conflicts between trust and being protective, being present and infringing one’s personal space are contradicting!

Most parents are baffled as they no more know what to say and what to do. They are all lost somewhere between the lines of ‘absent parenting’ and ‘over-parenting’!

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Absent parenting and Overparenting

Absent parenting is where the parent is absent, physically or emotionally, in major life moments of the child. This is common nowadays, as both the parent are engrossed in earning a livelihood, they barely get time to sit and check on their kid. 

Most such parents go on the guilt trip and compensate by gifting the little ones the costliest items available on stores. 

However, absent parenting is not only a problem in the working lot. Even the non-working parents may be absent emotionally or physically because of their own personal issues. Feud in family, addiction to alcohol or mobile phone, extra-marital affair are some common issues. 

On the other hand, some cross the line with overparenting commonly termed as helicopter parenting. This means being involved in the kid’s life more than required or desired. Taking decisions for the kid, implementing restrictions on the kid or dominating the kid are some indicators of overparenting!

While absent parenting is easy to identify and is a must to rectify, it’s the overparenting that has a blurred line!

To understand overparenting one has to understand the difference between – ‘My kid needs me’, ‘my kid wants me’.

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The blurred lines of overparenting

Here are a few examples that might give you a better idea of the concept of overparenting.

  • Feeding a toddler is a necessity, but feeding a teenager is overparenting.
  • Checking on the love life of a teenager is being protective, but poking the nose even in their twenties is overparenting.
  • Helping the kids learn is good, but being pushy with their teachers is overparenting.

The logic here is simple and ancient. Bhagavad Geeta says, nurturing a child and building his character is necessary for the child to find his way, but it is the kid who has to walk that way. No one else can do that for them!

Being an involved and active parent boosts the child’s confidence, gives a stronger emotional support system and increase the chances of the child’s success and happiness. But it is important not to cross the line faintly drawn between being actively involved and overly involved.

The effects of overparenting

Every parent wants the best for their child. They want to protect their little ones from every stone and pebble that may come their way. But it is important to understand that these struggles, pebbles and stones are as important as the big achievements in their lives. 

These struggles will be their biggest lessons. The difficulties, complexities and challenges make them stronger, confident and have better abilities of decision-making and coping with life’s struggle. 

Thus, being the decision-maker in your kid’s life will rob them of these opportunities. 

That’s not all, there are many more negative consequences of overparenting.

  • Researchers prove that overparenting tends to lower the rate of coping skills in children.
  • Studies have shown that overparenting tend to lower the self-efficacy and exaggerate a sense of entitlement. 
  • Over-protective kids may grow up to become either arrogant and self-centred or introvert or outcast.
  • Overparenting is associated with lower-quality communication.
  • It is seen that kids who are overparented tend to get depression and anxiety.

Overparenting is not only bad for the kid but also for the parents. Researchers have revealed that parents who over-parent are likely to be less satisfied with family communication and connection.

Emotional and Psychological effects of overparenting: Research

A 2012 study at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia revealed that overparented children may show signs of anxiety at age 4. By age 9, these children are at higher risk of clinical anxiety. 

A study published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies in 2013 concluded that college students who have over-involved parents report decreased satisfaction with life. They are often lost and have a more emotional dependency on others. This often leads to depression and other mental health issues

How not to over-parent?

1. Encourage your kids to make their own decisions

  • Ask your kids their preference from an early age. The food they want, the clothes they like, the subjects they want to learn. Every big and small decision related to their life should be made by them and the parents can help them see the obvious. 
  • Warn them when you think they are going on the wrong way, but do not enforce your decision on them. Sometimes, it’s better to let the kids make the wrong decisions. Give them a chance to learn from their own experience. 

2. Give control to your kids

  • The best way to teach your kid is by giving them the reigns. Get them a child’s account, ask them to manage their own expenses, involve them in family decisions, let them set their own goals. 
  • Give your kids the freedom to fail. Because success is a great partner, but failure is the best teacher. It is failure that will teach them life’s biggest lessons, give them the ability to cope and move on. 

3. Raise happy kids than successful kids

  • Parents often go overboard with ensuring their kid’s success. But why do people need success? Just because of the perception that success = happiness. But this is far from reality. Else, there won’t be so many cases of successful people dying by suicide at the peak of their career.
  • Teach the kids to be happy, to be grateful and to be content. Give them valuable life lessons to handle success and failure with equal zest.

4. Make your kid self-reliant

  • It should be a practice in every household that every member of the family should contribute to household works, including the kids. This should not be the mother’s sole responsibility to keep the home running.
  • Inculcate a habit in the kid to help you in small deeds. Bringing the dried clothes, putting the dishes in place and other trivial work appropriate for their age. 

5. Overparenting – Know your limits

  • It is important to have an open and friendly relationship with the kid, but it is also important not to interfere too much in their life. 
  • Do not get too much involved in every aspect of your kid’s life.
  • Never do your child’s homework.
  • Don’t make every decision for your kid.
  • Stop checking your kid’s personal gadgets often. 
  • Don’t follow them everywhere.
  • Never talk to the teachers or friends on their behalf.

Absent parenting and Overparenting

As Ayurveda says, the key to a successful life lies in the thin balance. Nailing the balance between absent parenting and overparenting is the key. There is no perfect way of parenting, it’s only about balancing!

Think of this as you walking as the shadow of your child. You don’t want to overshadow the child and you also don’t want the child to walk all alone. Just being there for the child is enough parenting!

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Malavika June 26, 2020 at 5:41 pm

Thank you. That was a good read. Contemplating.

Dr. Brahmanand Nayak June 27, 2020 at 2:57 am

thank you

uma jagannath June 28, 2020 at 9:22 am

Excellent article..real eye opener for the so called modren parents.. thank you..

Dr. Brahmanand Nayak June 28, 2020 at 4:13 pm


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