Dangerous trends of practices in parenting you maybe doing without notice
Being a parent has never been an easy task, but as we evolved the burden didn’t get lighter. The pressure to be a perfect parent is higher than ever and on top of that a lot of knowledge we once didn’t have on how to raise better people can be beneficial but at the same time overwhelming. Some things that were normal for example 50 years ago are now considered bad for the optimal development of children.
But, are we able to track every single detail and step we take as parents? Is it possible to make some mistakes without even noticing it in the first place, and then realize that you could have done a better job? Some parenting practices are wrong and you will exclude them from your life at the very beginning, but some look normal and casual, so we overlook them and keep the bad behavior going. But at what cost? Parenting today is making the person our child will be tomorrow, so every day matters.
Practicing any parenting style is going to determine the future of our children in many ways, so it is important to be well informed and acknowledge mistakes while there is still time for improvement. It’s unrealistic to think that you can be a perfect parent, but it is good for you and your family to learn from your mistakes and make small improvements that will be the foundation for a better future.
We will go over some popular and common parenting styles and practices to define what is the exact moment we make mistakes, that can look innocent and small at the time, but consequences are visible in the years to come. Some will look extreme, but when you take a better look, maybe they are relatable to you and your everyday life, just in certain areas.
Being a parent in modern times is a tough thing because you know what the world is like and you instinctively want to defend your children from it. While hovering over them like a helicopter, monitoring their every move, every choice, and whole life, you leave no room for growth that is needed. Helicopter parenting is becoming more present because we live in uncertain times and we all want the best outcome for our children, so we help them even more than necessary and thus they don’t develop the tools needed for real-life situations.
There is one interesting story about a butterfly and a helpful boy, who tried to help it get out of the cocoon and be free. The butterfly died and the boy was left wondering how his good intentions were unsuccessful. Turns out the butterfly needs to go through the struggle of getting out of the cocoon on its own because that way it develops the strength needed for flight and survival.
In a similar manner, helicopter parenting may look helpful and well-intended, but in reality, you are not allowing your children to face life and slowly chip away their confidence. People who have helicopter parents are often miserable and for some reason constantly angry, even though it sounds ridiculous to them. They have a problem with developing anxiety and may fall into depression when left without a parent.
Helicopter parenting is mostly associated with parents of teenagers and older children, but toddlers are not excluded. Being a well-intended parent can easily lead to overprotecting and doing all the work for your children, without even noticing.
Since we live in a time where knowledge and studies are available for everyone to read, it’s worth mentioning that helicopter parenting can result in forming anxiety and depressed personality problems in teenagers and adults, according to a recent study.
Crossing the line between helpful and hovering is easier than you think. It can start with simple tasks like not letting a toddler try and dress himself, and continue well into teenage years where you do all the projects, homework and give all the answers before your child had a chance to speak.
You can be honest and realize that struggle is needed for growth to occur. When we are given a task we can’t solve, we may get frustrated at first, but over time we learn to change the approach and resolve the problem. While doing so, children, teenagers, and adults practice patience, skills and build confidence that they can do it by themselves. That promotes good family relations and bonding.
On the total opposite side of helicopter parenting, stands free-range parenting. A complete extreme based on a good idea of allowing your children to be more independent and taking it to extremes. This type of parenting is considered by many borderline neglectful because the children are almost forced to be independent and on their own from a very young age.
It’s a popular opinion among some parents who read the story about a boy who was sent from home, to make his way back using the New York subway system. Anyone who ever rode this subway knows how hard it is to understand and use, not to mention the danger it presents. But this mother decided that her nine (9) year old is competent enough to be traveling alone.
Free-range parenting is taking essentially a well-formed idea of providing your children with the space they need to explore and learn, to the extreme of placing them in dangerous situations. While the free-range parents think it’s for the kid’s best interest, it can be contra intuitive.
When balancing and finding the perfect way of parenting, if that way even exists, we should consider the pros and cons of everything we see. So, giving the children unsupervised time and freedom is acceptable in small and well thought of doses. Considering that we are living in a time where crime flourishes, it’s unrealistic to push young children into the dangers of the world, without any supervision and expect them to be fine. While this parenting technique can be useful for developing resourceful and confidant children, you can do so without putting them in direct dangerous situations.
This sounds a bit harsh at the first glimpse, but some parents will unknowingly push their children too much out of their comfort zone. And, while we agree that pushing the boundaries is essential for growth, a line of confidence that parents need to provide shouldn’t be crossed. First of all, children should trust that you will be there for them, no matter what. This will give them the courage to spread their wings and fly freely while they have strong roots in their parents and family.
Imagine a parent that aims to be a friend with his or her children, with no disciplinary actions and very few demands. These parents are usually very responsive and not demanding, they have nurturing personalities and they are not big on rules and structure. That can sound pretty amazing, but is that the right path for creating independent individuals children are supposed to be one day?
Maybe you didn’t find yourself in the description, but this article is here to remind you that your parenting style can affect a certain part of everyday life as well as the whole outcome of raising a child into an adult. Being a permissive parent has its appeal, especially when you don’t have the strength to set firm boundaries and make sure the children are honoring them, and when you want to avoid confrontation. But what are the results?
Some studies have shown the difference between a child’s and parent’s point of view on the same subject of parenting style. While the studies couldn’t prove whether the children or parents were accurate, they came to an interesting and important conclusion that the children who saw parents as permissive often had more problems with substance use and low grades.
Being a flexible parent isn’t the same as being permissive, the difference in the outcome is massive. Permissive parents often set no needed boundaries mainly because they don’t want to fight with the children and opt for the low resistance parenting style. However, this can lead to chaotic behavior and the need to constantly push the limits. Children that have clear boundaries feel safer and thrive in childhood as well as adult individuals.
Teaching by example
This is a subject worth mentioning, because many studies have shown the direct influence parents have on their children, not by teaching but rather showing. Sometimes, we forget that children learn mostly by observing and we take for granted their little developing sponges of a mind. We often think that children learn only when we talk to them directly, but most of the time they learn by example.
It’s important to remember that desired behavior in children begins and ends with you, so if you want a certain behavior you should practice it yourself. It’s proven multiple times that we as a human race learn by observing and repeating. For example, you can scold your child for being aggressive and hit someone, and then spank him when you feel he made a mistake.
It’s a classic example of not standing to your word that you are trying to pass on to your children. At the same time, you say that hitting someone is bad, but you do it yourself. Children are smarter than we think, and situations like this are confusing and they can undermine the trust in the parent. Besides, corporal punishment can have a massive effect on the psychological development of a child, and even though it’s quite usual, it should be completely avoided because the benefits are not present while the destructive effects are.
Teaching by example would imply that you are constantly on the lookout for your behavior, words, and expressions. That can sound a bit overbearing, but keep in mind that mistakes are allowed and they are a human trait, as long as you own your mistakes and make amends. What would be better than a child that experiments, makes mistakes, and confesses without fear of harsh disciplinary actions while owning their behavior and consequences it brings.
Parental expectations and beliefs
While researching for this article, many studies and paper works were around the subject of a child’s performance in academics, especially in mathematics, based on the relation with the parent and the amount of parental expectations and beliefs. Simply put the more you believe in your children the more they believe they can do something, and they don’t shy away from challenges.
This is tricky territory because you should be able as an adult to control your expectations and not overwhelm the children while maintaining a healthy amount of belief that will build confidence. A few studies have shown that if a parent has high believes in the success of the children, they are in return task-oriented. That further means that the children of supporting parents have a higher chance of academic success.
If we translate it to everyday life, that would mean you being willing to trust that your child is capable of doing much more than you think. We as parents usually exaggerate in efforts to make life easier for our kids, and by doing so we don’t let them try, make a mistake, and find a better solution. It often starts early and with some small tasks, like eating and dressing. But feeding and clothing our children, without letting them do all the work can lead to low self-esteem and anxiety.
You should be your child’s best supporter and cheerleader, making sure that they know you believe in them and their capabilities. That will mean for you to occasionally step back and let them figure something out with a confident and supportive attitude.
It wouldn’t be an article on modern-day parenting and correlated potential problems if screen time wasn’t mentioned. If we touch upon the previous part and setting an example, it doesn’t come as a surprise that children are obsessed with smartphones, tablets, TVs, and screens in general, because let’s be honest we are all doing the same thing.
If you would like your children to read more books, it’s simple, just read more books yourself. You should be realistic and accept that screens are the new age plague, and it would be near impossible to cut out all the screen time from their everyday life. But, there should be a time limit and content supervising while allowing screen time. Modern time requires the knowledge for using the technology and it would be too restricting not to allow children to have contact with it, just in moderation.
A study has shown that depending on the popular program that children mostly watch in one period is correlated to speech development. Some programs are fine in moderate dosages and some are harmful for development, especially communication skills. So, choosing the content carefully is a must, especially for younger children and toddlers, while their speech is still developing. Other than that, limit the time spent in front of the screen and replace it with interactive games, nature, and creative tasks that are age-appropriate.
What can you do?
Can you be a super parent who practices perfect parenting? Is there such a thing or should we strive to be the best we can be? To answer those questions one should ask himself: What do I want for my children now and what do I want for them in the future?
It’s easy to get carried away by modern society and perfectionism in every corner of the world, but that is not an everyday reality. Children are small individuals that come packed with different personalities and not every theory is going to be the right one for your child. Presenting every day as perfect is going to prepare them for disappointment because life, as beautiful as it is, can be a series of solving problems and catching small glimpses of pure happiness.
Be guided by common sense and experience. Today, we have more information available in a day than people had in a lifetime, 100 years ago. We now know more about children, development, social skills, and emotional intelligence, and so on. Use that knowledge wisely and sensibly for the best outcome. How?
Set firm boundaries:
Children, especially toddlers with limited understanding of the functioning of the world are overwhelmed by emotions and feelings of incapability. Their job is to play and explore, but at the same time firm boundaries make them feel safe. Knowing what to expect in a rather chaotic world can be very comforting and good for emotional development.
Patience, when those boundaries are tested, is also your job, so choose them carefully and always ask yourself what is prohibited and why. If it’s not dangerous for the child, or it’s not hurting anyone else, be a bit more flexible and let them pull out every pot and pan you have in the pantry, to play.
Be prepared to change:
Children are growing fast and changing almost daily, it’s up to you to keep up with this fast pace and grow with them. If you notice that some parenting tactic is not working for you and your family, change it and accommodate it to your needs.
Sticking to a certain belief even when it’s not doing any good, is not the wisest thing to do. Acknowledge your mistakes and make the effort to change the parts that are not functioning properly. You will teach your child that it is ok to be wrong and to learn from it, as well as not dwelling on the past but rather looking at what is the next best thing for you.
Parenting a baby, toddler, child, and teenager are completely different situations with different approaches needed for the best result, or better said family harmony and thriving of children.
Think about the future:
We all want the best for our young ones now, and often forget to look further in the future and predict how our behavior today is going to benefit them tomorrow, next year, or in ten years. If you noticed this article is trying to build balance in relations with children.
If you want an independent, successful, and confident adult, you have to be prepared to alter your parenting style so that the future looks a bit brighter for them. If you are too involved or helicopter parenting, step back, and let the child find his or her way out of the situation. If you feel that you are permissive too much, conquer your fear of confrontations and set some boundaries, be a parent. When you want your child not to lie, be honest with them from the start, and so on.
Whenever you see a behavior that concerns you, take a step back, and think about your actions that might cause it in the first place. Remember, children are like sponges, taking in every word, gesture, action, look, and expression. You are their guide and it’s your responsibility to teach them not only how to take the first step but how to walk through life with their head held high.
Give them strong roots in a loving family environment, boost their confidence by believing in them from the start, and have the patience for all of their mistakes. After all, we are all humans no matter how big or small, and we are all learning as we go.
- Schiffrin, Holly H., et al. “Helping or hovering? The effects of helicopter parenting on college students’ well-being.” Journal of Child and Family Studies 23.3 (2014): 548-557. ↑
- Cohen, Deborah A., and Janet Rice. “Parenting styles, adolescent substance use, and academic achievement.” Journal of drug education 27.2 (1997): 199-211. ↑
- Gershoff, Elizabeth Thompson. “Corporal punishment by parents and associated child behaviors and experiences: a meta-analytic and theoretical review.” Psychological bulletin 128.4 (2002): 539. ↑
- Aunola, Kaisa, et al. “The roles of achievement-related behaviours and parental beliefs in children’s mathematical performance.” Educational Psychology 23.4 (2003): 403-421. ↑
- Linebarger, Deborah L., and Dale Walker. “Infants’ and toddlers’ television viewing and language outcomes.” American behavioral scientist 48.5 (2005): 624-645. ↑