Is Over-Parenting Putting Our Kids Into Therapy?
The desire for happiness for our children is so basic, so intrinsic, that we start off on day one making sure they are happy every minute of every day.
But what if our desire for them to be constantly happy is actually making them less happy as adults? Lori Gottleib poses this question in an article for the Atlantic Magazine titled: "How to Land Your Kid in Therapy". What if happy is the wrong goal?
In it, she uses research and anecdotes to say that parents cushion their children from any unhappiness which means they have no skills to deal with rejection or downturns in their future. In short, we are not making resilient kids, we are churning out little narcissists. And we are doing it with the best intentions. She writes:
Jeff Blume, a family psychologist with a busy practice in Los Angeles, told me when I spoke to him recently: “A kid needs to feel normal anxiety to be resilient. If we want our kids to grow up and be more independent, then we should prepare our kids to leave us every day.”
Leave me? Every day? I can't even bear the thought. But that is part of the problem, that we parents depend on our kids for our own self-worth and even companionship. The experts in the article even admit to their own issues about having an empty nest.
It's not easy seeing your kid unhappy or watching them fall apart when pain comes their way. Obviously, our first instinct is to pick them up and run for safer pastures. It seems that we should leave them for a minute before we do that, to let them look around, brush off their skinned knee and realize that a fall/a break-up/a rejection letter isn't the worst thing in the world and they can handle it.
I see helicopter parents swooshing in and not allowing their kids any failures all the time: they always let them win at card games so they don't have to face the upset; they don't allow their kids to ever feel hungry and they pack their bag with three sweaters so they never have to remember their own. Sometimes, I am even one of them (though in my defense, being a helicopter parent takes a lot more energy and pre-planning then I can muster). My personal failure lies in my tendency to be enmeshed with my kids (particularly my oldest), where I want to make sure that all emotional hurt is processed in a positive way.
In fact, my oldest and I bumped into a friend who was wearing a T-shirt that read: "Running Is Cheaper Than Therapy." My son asked me what therapy was, and I said: "Don't worry you will find out soon enough."
According to the article, I will pay for it too.
The author of "How to Land Your Kid in Therapy" was on the Today Show. Even Matt Lauer admits to some helicopter parenting:
Do you think over-parenting is putting kids at risk of being less happy? Is this article just another example of blaming parents for everything and no matter what we do, we can't get it right?
Want more chaos? Last year, I wrote about the first time my family dealt with lice. Sadly, I have become much more of an expert since then. (scratch, scratch)