Do your children a favour. Don’t be a hyper-parent!
Around two decades ago, child development researchers Foster Cline and Jim Fay had coined an interesting new term – ‘helicopter parent’. No, they were not referring to parents who are constantly on the move, flitting from one place to another, leaving their children to fend for themselves. Rather the term described people who are obsessed with hovering over their children, being involved in their every action and decision rather than being focussed on raising children capable of making independent decisions when they’re grown up.
What’s even worse than being a helicopter parent of growing children is being a control-freak parent of adult children. Of being a parent who refuses to treat their children as adults after they’ve grown up. Still wanting to have a say in what they wear, what they eat, how they should manage their spouses and their marriage… in other words, refusing to let adult children lead their own lives.
“Being controlling can make your loved ones feel as though you’re living their lives for them, and not giving them the freedom to choose their own decisions,” writes Barbara Gain in her book Stop Being Controlling
The results of a recent study of 5362 Britons from their teens to their silver years, published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that adults whose meddlesome parents interfered too much in their lives as children and encouraged dependence on them, were unhappier as adults and had a lower level of mental health.
Characteristics of ‘control-freak’ parents
Sadly, many of us think it’s our concern for our grown-up children that makes us want o be involved in their lives even when we’re well past sixty and our children have little darlings of their own. Our intentions may be good, but what we end up doing is become meddlesome parents who irritate our adult children and perhaps even drive a wedge in our relationship with them.
“Control-freak” parents forget that truly loving their children means giving them strong wings to be independent.
Meddlesome parents with an authoritarian style of parenting:
- Like to do every little thing for their children when they’re little, giving them hardly any freedom to do things for themselves, leave alone freedom to think for themselves
- Believe they always know what’s best for their children no matter if their children are five -year olds or thirty-five or more
- Believe that their way of doing things is the right way and try to impose this on their children
- Don’t permit adult children to argue with them or express their opinions freely, and take offence at even the slightest criticism from them
- Resort to emotional blackmailing to get grown-up children to toe the line
- Fail to see the difference between guiding adult children and leaving them free to make their own decisions, and trying to control them
Sure this does not mirror your attitude towards your adult children? Perhaps this humorous take on my travails as a meddlesome mom could be the eyeopener you need to prevent you from taking your hyper-parenting to a preposterous extreme.
Feedback welcome, as always!