Over-involved Parents?

You’ve seen a helicopter parent, haven’t you? Have you ever witnessed an over-involved parent? What’s the difference you ask?

An over-involved parent is an extreme version, a more intense version of a helicopter parent. The over-involved parent doesn’t look at what their child needs; they’re focused on how to make things easier so their child doesn’t get upset. They do everything for their child so the child doesn’t have to experience the rules or any injustices in life.

Over-involved parents tend to misunderstand what the parental job really is.

Over-involved parents consistently do things children can, and should, do for themselves. Things like hanging up their coat, picking up their toys, or doing their chores because it’s easier than dealing with the ruckus the child creates when asked to do those things.

This type of parent doesn’t fully understand the value of mistakes or teaching a child that its okay to feel frustrated,and you have to do it anyway, in order to teach responsibility.

Hear me out before you rush to the comment box. I’m not talking about helping your child every once and a while, I talking about every-single-day. If you do what your child can do for him or her self, are you really serving your child’s growth?

What Does Truly Serve a Child?

Children truly need parents who understand that what’s said and done today, affects how your child thinks and acts tomorrow.

What most over-involved parents fail to understand is how their child sees their actions.

A perfect example would be the parent who guides and controls every drop of play and interaction her child has with other kids. She never waits to see what happens so the kids can learn; she jumps in to prevent it from happening.

One child may misinterpret that type of over-involvement as a sign that the rules don’t apply to me, “When others don’t share with me, my mom jumps in and makes them.”

Another child may shy away from playing with others, or stop risking new experiences so mom doesn’t step in and embarrass him.

Both types of children will have missed out on learning how to handle things themselves so they’re prepared to handle life’s bumps and bruises when they’re older.

What does being over-involved sound like?

The conversation below wasn’t created to show parents how to handle the situation. It’s meant to show the difference between being over-involved and teaching.

The Over-involved Parent

Child: (yelling) “Get me one now! Make sure it’s pink—I only eat pink cupcakes!”

Mom: “Don’t worry princess I’ll make sure you get a cupcake even if there isn’t enough for everyone.”

The Teaching Parent

Child: (beginning to cry) “I want a pink cupcake.”

Mom: “Sweetie, looks like there aren’t enough pink cupcakes for everyone. What’s your second choice, blue or purple?”

Child: “But I wanted pink.”

Mom: “I know and sometimes you have to change what you want, that’s why we have second choices?”

Child: “Okay, I’ll have one with sprinkles.”

I, like every parent, am tempted from time to time to become over-involved. Then I remember what the true definition of parenting is…teaching, and I take comfort from the Rolling Stones, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well you might find, you get what you need.”

Image courtesy of ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Sharon Silver is a regular contributor, parenting educator, author and the founder of Proactive Parenting