Are you over-parenting your teen?
Created by Shikha Batra Updated on Dec 29, 2020
“If you give your teen a fish, you feed him for a day;
Teach your teen to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. "
The proverb rightly points out it's more worthwhile to teach your teenager to do it for themselves than to do it for them as by doing so you will be preparing them for life.
Raising a teenager is like taking a bitter pill. They are like half miniature adults and half little kids who need constant therapy, require constant nagging and could be terribly disorganized. They do not become wise enough until they are in their 20's. Knowing all these aspects about their teenager's development can make it really hard for parents to relax and might even give them sleepless nights. In order to deal with this, moms and dads can fall into the trap and start over parenting their teens.
This leads to many questions such as -
Is policing your teen in day to day life and helping him/her even when he/she is capable of managing self could prove to be detrimental for them in the long run?
Are parents who try too hard to buffer their teens from harm, are actually causing more harm to them themselves?
Do teens from over-parented homes fail to develop?
Does overprotection by parents increase the risk that their teenager will be bullied?
Do parents who are over-parenting their teens and refuse to step down from their manager’s role breed rebellion in them?
Well unfortunately there is a likelihood that the answer to all the above questions is “Affirmative!”.
Being available to our teens throughout, lecturing them or nagging them constantly by telling them what they should or should not do might lead to lack of confidence in them and limit opportunities for developing skills.
So the question arises - how do we nurture young people, but not over-do it?
Teens need to be taught problem-solving skills so that they are able to resolve the problems faced and challenges encountered themselves rather than depend on parents to fix everything for them. Doing so would mean preparing them for life.
Parents can help them develop resilience by bolstering their ability to recover from mistakes, rather than correcting them even before they make them as the lessons learnt with experience will stay with them for life.
Parents need to take a step back and hand over the reins of decision making in their teen’s hands. They need to allow their teens to make important decisions about their own lives which in any way doesn’t mean they don’t need their parents’ support or guidance anymore. Infact, teens need their parents even more as they need constant validation from them to reassure themselves they are on the right track and are not faltering. It also doesn’t mean parents never say no anymore or stop correcting them when they make a mistake. Taking a step back would simply mean that they need to involve their teens more in creating the rules and let them make their own decisions- which they will do any which way.
Listen to them rather than instructing them. It could be quite stressful to talk to teenagers about their lives. So it becomes really important to create safe spaces for our teens to talk about the hard things. Let them lead and give them a chance to speak. Practice to stay calm, take deep breaths and avoid freaking out while holding conversations with them.
Overparenting teens might prevent them from spreading their wings within the domain of their capabilities, rob them of the opportunities to test themselves, develop coping skills or learn through experience. It might put a barrier for them to gain the feeling of competence and mastery that usually is experienced from taking action and making their own decisions. This leaves them unprepared when they leave home and face the world.
Parents need to remember their lives are their lives and their journey is theirs and not ours. For that, they need to listen and not instruct, coach instead of manage and support instead of lead. The goal of parenting is to make our teens competent, self-regulating and effective people as they grow up.
Please pour in your valuable feedback and share your experience on how you have been parenting your teen to add value to this blog.