Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Parent trap

I read a great article from a recent Time magazine about the growing backlash against "overparenting" -- those who take too much of an interest in their child's growth.

As Em is transitioning from a baby to a toddler (and more of a kid), Brent and I are finding that it's less about just doing everything we can to keep her happy and smiling, and more about teaching her right and wrong. Instead of just moving her away from our wall heater, which isn't on yet, we try to explain that it's hot and dangerous while we move her away.

It's hard not to hear about the latest parenting trends and wonder if we're keeping up with the Joneses, particularly when those Joneses are alllll about the "helicopter parenting" described in the article. But it's all about keeping it in perspective, and the Joneses don't really matter. Not talking about the ACTUAL Joneses I know, btw. THOSE Joneses are fabulous!

Brent and I are learning as we go, discovering a parenting style that works for us. We remind ourselves that what's right for other parents may not be right for our family. (I wanted to infuse this post with some examples, but I don't have the energy tonight to do it the way I'd like to without potentially offending other parents for their own choices.)

We're finding that balance of guiding Em and showing her the way, and letting her discover it for herself. As the Time article noted, "You really want your children to succeed? Learn when to leave them alone. When you lighten up, they'll fly higher. We're often the ones who hold them down."

"What I dream of is an art of balance."
- Henri Matisse


  1. OMG i wish i could print that article out and give it to the parents of some of my students. i know that their involvement comes from caring, but sometimes they don't realize that doing everything for their child is holding that child back! i love that last line about learning to leave them alone. kids are capable, people just need to realize that! you and brent are doing an amazing job and i know that you'd be the kind of parents i'd like to deal with as a teacher LOL

  2. I always hesitate to comment on parenting related posts since I'm not a parent. However, I have worked with kids and parents for over 15 years, so I feel like I do have a little perspective.

    I think you hit the nail on the head with the word "balance," which I can only imagine is really hard to achieve. The underparenting, which is sometimes actual abuse, is as bad if not worse than the overparenting I see. I don't envy any of you trying to do what's best for your little ones. I see how hard it is.

    I think you and Brent fall into that demographic of well-educated, older (not "old," but also not 19 or 20) parents who have access to lots of information and perhaps the means to do more for Em than some do for their kids. It seems natural you'd err on the side of over doing it, but you know what...who cares? She's your daughter and you guys are figuring it out. I have no doubts she is going to turn out to be amazing, just like the two of you are.