One of the toughest challenges as a parent is maneuvering the delicate balance of being under or over-involved in your children’s lives. Most parents wants to ensure the best for their children but also want to teach them independence and self-assuredness. Every child is unique and every family unit has different circumstances but there are ways to make sure you are being an effective parent for the child you have.
The middle years or school age years can be challenging for kids. They often begin to question authority or family rules. Most children this age prioritize friendships with their peers and you may notice sibling interactions change. This can be a time that provides you, as a parent, with more time to pursue activities you enjoy. Research tells us that parents are happier (and better able to parent) when they make time for themselves. In fact, it can be healthy for your child to see you exploring hobbies or interests that are for you.
“Helicopter” parenting is a form of over parenting or being overly involved in a child’s daily tasks or responsibilities. It can be tricky figuring out how engaged you need to be as a parent. Some parents start out with good intentions but can easily become too involved when they are anxious or afraid the child will not succeed. But challenging situations and even failure teaches kids valuable life skills. It also sets kids up for success to handle future challenges independently. It’s important to sit back and let these instances occur. Support your child positively, of course but try not to handle the challenge for them.
While helicopter parenting may seem effective right away, it eventually can make things harder for both you and your child. Children may think you don’t trust them to do things on their own or even become accustomed to you doing daily tasks for them. Ultimately, this can lead to a lack of self-confidence and inability to fend for themselves when you are not around. Some research actually suggests helicopter parenting is associated with higher rates of child anxiety and depression.
As a parent, if you live through your child or define your self-worth through their achievements, you put yourself in a vulnerable position; one that could easily lead to frustration and resentment. It’s unrealistic to expect to receive all of your personal fulfillment from your role as a parent.
Parenting an athlete presents a unique set of challenges. I think all parents would agree we want to create a safe, fun and positive experience when it comes to sports. This often requires patience and unconditional support. Every child will excel in their athletic abilities along different timelines. While it can be tempting to become involved and push this process, most milestones for athletic ability simply cannot be accelerated beyond their natural limit. Every child will show personal likes and dislikes for certain sports and should be allowed to participate without pressure in activities they enjoy.
Easy ways to support your child without “hovering” are to show up to all events that you can. Compliment your child, without an agenda, more than you criticize them. Redefine winning and find the value of losing. This allows your child to build a strong sense for self-confidence and discipline that is independent of achievement.