- Do you do all of the talking for your child?
- Do they never talk to teachers, coaches, or other adults on their own?
- If they are struggling in a class, do you call the teacher instead of letting your child discuss the situation with them?
- Do you answer for your child in all circumstances?
- Can your child speak to other adults at all? Are they comfortable asking for what they need?
When parents navigate a situation for their child, they rob the child of that experience of communicating with another person with whom they have an issue. Children don't get to understand what the problem is or how to solve it. They also don't get to learn how to stand up for themselves. It also robs the child of the knowledge that sometimes they can have a reasonable conversation and still things don't go their way. The ability to communicate appropriately, learn from failure and that life isn't always fair are some of the most important life lessons.
Parents want to feel needed. They want desperately for their children to be happy and successful adults. Many parents have redefined parenting as more than guiding their children but of controlling and manipulating every aspect of their lives. They are more than gentle observers; they have become invasive and over-involved adults who may actually be holding their children back rather than giving them the tools to succeed as adults. If your child is capable of doing something without you, they should be allowed to do so. Even if they don't do it well. That is how strength and tenacity are built. Think about this the next time you hover over your child, helping them with something they can and should probably do on their own.
Lori Thuente, PhD, RN, is currently the Assistant Director for the DePaul University School of Nursing’s Master’s Entry into Nurse Practice program. She lives in the northern suburbs of Chicago with her husband and two boys, age 8 and 11.