If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders. ~Abigail Van Buren
Let me ask you a question, and before you say I’m crazy, just think about it for a minute. Are we too hands on as parents in this day and age? Honestly, prior to reading an article in a prominent parenting magazine, I had never asked myself that or even thought it was a possibility. After reading this article though, I had to ask myself if maybe there’s some truth to the argument. Maybe we do spend too much time running ourselves ragged for our kids. Now I’m not saying that spending time with our kids and family isn’t important, because it is. However, not all time spent is quality time…at least that much I think most people can agree on. Is it possible to focus so much on your kids and what you think they need that it’s unhealthy for you personally and maybe even for them? Can we attach ourselves to the point that we hinder their development in to independent beings that can problem solve and make solid decisions? I have to say that I think yes, it is entirely possible because I believe I am guilty of doing this to some extent.
For me, I think that because I have always had a full-time job outside the home I feel like I need to be with my kids every possible free moment to compensate. Between evening homework sessions, shuttling my tween to and from extra-curricular activities, bath and reading time with my toddler, ensuring the family is fed, and weekends spend attending to household obligations and quality family oriented activities, I rarely get out and do something just for me alone or only with other adults (and by rarely I mean maybe like twice a year for two or three hours). I mean it’s no wonder I find myself stressed out and frustrated with the kids more than I’d like to be, more than I should be, for very trivial issues, and I have a hard time believing that I’m the only one.
When you really think about it maybe we are smothering our kids and as a result, ourselves. I know when I was my son’s age I went to play in the neighborhood with my friends every evening and was simply expected home by dark. I had no cell phone to keep tabs on me and evidently my mother didn’t believe that being out of her sight for a few hours would result in a severe injury, fatality, or kidnapping (or maybe she did and that’s why she kept letting me go again and again). What that did though, was free up a few hours for dear old mom to decompress from a day at work, get dinner ready, and just relax in peace for a few before giving my sister and I her undivided attention for the rest of the evening. What a concept right?
Why don’t more parents give their kids some breathing room now? I suppose there are many valid reasons; attachment parenting, too many criminals out there, bad influence by peers, and any number of other reasons. What I have to wonder though, is are we allowing ourselves to be too hands on as parents and creating an unhealthy result for our kids and ourselves? Do I have to make every single karate class or is missing one and getting my nails done forgivable? Where do you draw the line between being an attentive, nurturing parent and overkill?
What do you think? Is it possible to be too hands on as a parent or is that just the nature of today’s society and keeping kids safe and involved in the right activities?
Naila Moon saysJanuary 9, 2014 at 1:46 pm
Yeah, I actually do think we smother our kids too much. We simply do not allow them to be kids or free thinkers or to imagine. I never had all the gadgets either. I was always outside and figuring out some sort of thing to do or create.
I do not believe my parents were not concerned about my health and well being, of course they were but they let us be children and to learn on our own what making good choices verses bad choice were.
My Mother and Dad also worked full time but I never felt like I was neglected because of it. We got out time too and they got their time as a couple as well. Limits of bedtime were adhered too and this was necessary for our health and theirs.
Let’s give our kids and ourselves a break for sure.
I also wanted to say thanks for signing up for the Biannual Blogathon Bash in January. It’s going to be lots of fun.
Erinn S saysJanuary 9, 2014 at 9:30 pm
I worry about my older sons a lot. I do think of when I was younger and was expected home at dark llike you said, but technology makes it easire for the boys to find ways and info. I try to remind myself to just let go a little. They will learn best if allowed to fall down sometimes
Lisa Trudell saysJanuary 10, 2014 at 12:06 am
I don’t have any young kids. However, I wonder what kids growing up now on electronics is going to be like as adults. I agree with you that only having a few hours to yourself a year is not enough to keep your sanity. That would even be the case if it was just you and your spouse. You need to have time for yourself.
Alison saysJanuary 10, 2014 at 9:49 pm
You are absolutely right – personal time is important to keep some sense of sanity as a wife, parent, and individual. Sometimes it’s not only hard to remember that, but it’s hard to get everyone else in the family to realize that you’re not “being mean” or ignoring them when you want to get away for a little bit — actually it’s a mommy (or daddy) time out so you can be the best “you” that you can be.
Elisebet F saysJanuary 10, 2014 at 12:01 pm
I think it is possible to be too hands on…kids do need to learn to think for themselves and do things for themselves. We’re not always going to be around to look out for them; one day they’ll be on their own, and you never know…it could be sooner than you expect.
Now where to draw that line? I don’t know. It probably depends on the individual child.
Alison saysJanuary 10, 2014 at 9:47 pm
I have to say I agree — I find that with my own son, sometimes I have to stop myself from “helping” him or “catering” to him so much because I know I have to let him learn and make his own mistakes (within reason of course). It’s hard as a parent to determine where that line is because each child is so entirely different — even two kids in the same household will have different boundaries and finding those is a delicate balancing act.
Rachel saysJanuary 12, 2014 at 5:31 pm
Great post, you make some excellent points! I think I am probably leaning towards the not enough hands on a times, I want to let my kid discover things for himself! But maybe I allow too much? I dunno, it’s good to sit back an think about how to create the right balance! Thanks for linking up with the weekend blog block party!
Tessa W saysJanuary 25, 2014 at 11:23 am
I have the opposite problem. Because my boys play so well on their own, I need to remind myself that they need my focused attention regularly too. But, as a whole, I think most people feel like they need to be entertaining their cbildren at all time. Independent play is so beneficial to children and boredom is where some of the best creativity is developed. The only reason I’m currently feeling like I need a break is because I have a 2.5 month old and he doesn’t play independently yet 🙂 I have found that being more hands off with my kids gives them the opportunity to develop creativity and responsibility. I call it “low maintenance parenting” and it isnworking beautifully for us.
Alison saysJanuary 25, 2014 at 11:31 am
I can see how that could be an issue as well…As I have days that I wish my kiddo had a buddy his age that lived close (we live in a rural area) so that he would go out and play for more than 5 minutes at a time and I could take a breather, too much independence too early could also be the other extreme and a happy medium is where I think we all want to be. And if you have some independent boys I can totally see why you’re feeling the need for a break with a 2.5 month old! No independence there! I like the term “low maintenance” as it pertains to parenting — that’s how I strive to live all areas of my life! Thanks for stopping by and congrats on the newest little bundle!