Why You Shouldn’t Be a Child Controlling Machine
No, it is not another article aimed at blaming helicopter parenting style that results in kids who are not capable of dealing with the simplest things on their own. Well, it is, but only partially. The point is there is more than one scenario of behavior in children treated like they permanently need guidance.
Worth mentioning, some people tend to perceive caring moms and dads as over-controlling. Obviously, such a groundless accusation is not accepted by parents who are just being responsible. One may pertinently ask “When does parenting become an overwhelming experience for a child?” It doesn’t when you ask for a number of your kid’s friend just in case or when you discuss his performance with a teacher. It’s absolutely okay to protect your child from bullies – be it your kid’s classmates, seniors, his teachers or strangers. Children don’t have to overcome everything by themselves. The proverb “What does not kill you, makes you stronger” doesn’t fit the situation at all. Parents definitely should be involved in their children’s lives within reasonable limits.
Here are stories of people whose parents have crossed the line by depriving them of privacy. If you recognize yourself there, the text below is for you.
Let us look at the three most possible options if you proceed to control your children too much.
- Your kids may actually become dependent on you. That’s exactly what some parents wish for, because this way they can enjoy a lifelong feeling of being needed.
Why it is bad: In such a case your children have a right to accuse you in living your life through them. You have not given birth to them just to recreate the second self, have you? People cannot fully develop their personality if they always need to be led and cannot make their own decisions. You can easily condemn your children to solitude of emotionally undeveloped Peter Pans nobody wants to be friends with.
Besides, you do your children a disservice shielding them from everything: if anything happens to you, they will be devoured by all the responsibilities dropping on their heads.
- Your take-everything-under-control style may result in a kids’ protest when they begin to do things exactly opposite to what they are told to do. For instance, my acquaintance who is a good person did many bad things just to spite his over-controlling parents – he did drugs, drank much alcohol, got involved in risky situations. His mom even set up a home security system (like on this website) to watch him when she’s at work. Needless to say, his relationship with his parents is still strained despite the fact they love each other, in their own way.
Why it is bad: Your kid can perceive you as his opponent and drag you into a game “Who will give up first”. This way you won’t be able to gain your kid’s respect and break the wall of misunderstanding. Moreover, despite your good intentions you increase your chances to lose your child due to his risky behavior. It’s a good reason to change your parenting strategy, right?
- Your kids can also adopt a passive position, pretending to recognize your authority (supposedly until they become financially independent).
Why it is bad: Your kid may perceive you as a sponsor and not feel attached to you. They are likely to limit contact with you when they become adults.
Neither of these scenarios probably sound good to you.
You have to keep the balance. There is a big difference between a parent you can rely on and a parent who imposes his/her help regardless of whether it’s needed or not. And please, don’t delude yourself with a thought that your kids will appreciate the value of your efforts when they grow up. Sometimes you need to step in to prevent disaster, sometimes you need to let them fall on their face. You only demonstrate your weakness and immaturity with your urge to control everything. Instead, you have to control your child’s life softly and unobtrusively, be a shadow, not a blanket.
So, if you don’t want to become a child controlling machine, you can adopt modern technologies and delegate a part of your parental functions to your electronic devices. For example, with your kid’s permission you can install special parental control apps on your phone, so you know where your kid is, who he is texting with, what websites he visits and so on without calling him every 5 minutes or regularly forcing him to report about his actions.
Maybe, you don’t feel you can rely on your kid when it comes to wasting money online and that’s why you constantly control what he is doing with his smartphone? Sometimes you just need to make some things unavailable by default without leaving a place for temptation. For this you can use apps like Kids Place.
Your child also may lack a feel of responsibility, so you are afraid to entrust him with the simplest tasks. In this situation it would be reasonable to get him a pet, for example. You can look here for an animal shelter near your home. This way you would kill two birds with one stone and do a good deed.
Most importantly, you have to remember that your main goal as a parent is to raise happy and independent adults. If you are a child of over-controlling parents yourself, it absolutely doesn’t mean you have to rely on your experience and make the same mistakes they did.