Check out Ultimate Intimacy Podcast episode 84 “The Biggest Parenting Mistake You Can Make” HERE, or by clicking the picture below.
Every parent want’s their children to be successful and happy in life. So what wouldn’t a parent do to help their kids have an easier life? The problem is, for many parents, the answer is they would do ANYTHING for their kids thinking it will make their life easier if they can take away all the problems, hurt, failures and things that life surely brings. And in the process of good intentions, they could not only be destroying their kids, but also their marriage.
This behavior is called “smothering” and can cause significant issues long term that can rarely be undone. Sometimes our “good intentions” can cause very bad outcomes.
So what does a smothering parent look like? What are the causes of this behavior? How does this behavior impact your kids? How does it impact your marriage? And how can you stop being a smothering parent?
What Does A Smothering Parent Look Like
- Tries to prevent every minor fall, or risk so the kid(s) NEVER get hurt. They also avoid doing age – appropriate actives to avoid the risks.
- Parents choose their kids friends for them.
- Put their kids in activities without their kids input or feedback.
- Don’t let their kids solve problems on their own or make decisions own their own (that are age appropriate).
- Intervenes in arguments, or conflicts with their friends, employer or co workers.
- Does their homework for them.
- Tells their teachers or coaches what to do for them.
These are just a few of the examples of what a smothering parent can look like.
What Are Some Of The Reasons A Person Would Be A Smothering Parent
- They have fears about their kids future
Many parents are scared to death that what their child does today will have a significant impact on their future. Now in certain cases this may be true and a parent needs to determine what is really a life altering decision. Smothering a child makes a parent (or parents) feel like they can prevent struggles from happening later in life. An example of this could be a child getting cut from a middle school basketball team.
Hovering parents could look at this as something that could keep their child from getting to the NBA and destroying their dreams. To a non smothering parent, they might look at this as motivation for their child to practice more and improve their skills so they can make the team and be a better player next tryouts (that’s what happened to Michael Jordan).
- Trying to live their life through their kids
Often times a parent wants to live their dreams (or failures) through their kids. If a husband was a really good golfer when they were younger (or even older), they naturally may want their kids to be a good golfers as well and follow in their footsteps. How often do you see professional athletes that have kids that want to do the exact same thing? Now I am not saying it was forced, but often times it could be which we will discuss more about.
- Think Our Kids Success Or Failures Reflect On Us
We as parents often think our kids successes or failures reflect who we are (successful or not) and our identity is based upon our childs success. Because of that, we selfishly put so much pressure on them to be perfect at everything they do, or don’t allow them to fail. A child’s success or failure can make a parent (or parents) feel like a success for failure as well.
Some parents become very anxious and emotionally can’t handle it when seeing their kids go through trials, get hurt, or have disappointment. While it is hard to see our kids go through the up’s and down’s of life, it is important to allow those things to happen. A smothering parent will do everything they can to prevent negative things from happening to their child.
What the parents don’t realize is by keeping our kids from experiencing hurt or disappointment, instead of them becoming more resilient, they grow weaker and more dependable. Just think back on difficult or painful things you have experienced and how going through those things has most likely made you a lot stronger and even more successful.
What Are The Consequences Of Being A Smothering Parent
- Although the intentions of being a smothering parent are sometimes good, It can have significant repercussions and cause a child to develop a low self confidence and low self esteem especially as they get older.
- If a child has never had to figure anything out on their own, or go through trials and struggles, they will doubt their own abilities and not believe they can figure things out or go through hard things. They won’t be able to manage their own life when they get older.
- Kids that have low self confidence and self esteem often have anxiety and/or depression and these problems don’t just go away as they get older.
- Kids raised by smothering parents are more likely to be on anti depressants or other medication.
- Children also can develop entitlement issues which results in behavioral issues. If a child is always getting what they want and things done for them, what happens when that stops?
Some Of The Signs Of A Smothering Parent
- You do (or would do) everything for your child.
- Everything needs to be perfect. If you demand perfection, kids may believe they aren’t good enough.
- Over protective and don’t allow them to do things on their own.
- Try to keep them from experiencing anything negative or hurtful in their lives.
- Do their chores, or homework for them.
- Tell their coaches and teachers what to do or how to handle your kids.
- NEVER blame your kids, but put the blame on others.
- Don’t give your kids hard things to do.
- Don’t trust your kids and allow them to do things on their own.
- Pick your kids friends for them.
- Only allow your child to participate in activities you approve of.
- Don’t let them fail or take responsibility for their actions.
- If they make a mistake or do something wrong, you step in to correct it to avoid any consequences.
How To Stop Being A Smothering Parent
The first and most important thing you have to do is recognize you are a smothering parent and want to change. Reverting from this can be extremely difficult and people often feel like their child will feel like they don’t love them as much. This is not the case. Kids want freedom and the opportunity to explore, make their own decisions and figure things out!
This is why so many kids (who have smothering parents) often rebel and turn to drugs, alcohol and other things. They want to make decisions on their own and feel accepted by other people. You can still show your child (or children) you are alway there for them without solving all of their problems for them and hovering over their every move.
Here are some of the things you can do to STOP being a smothering parent:
- Focus on the future and seriously consider the consequences of your smothering will do. Ask yourself “Do I want them to develop the attributes, skills and abilities to be able to problem solve and resolve their own problems or have to rely on me to fix everything?”
- Let your kids figure things out on their own (or teach them how). Don’t intervene unless they really need your help. This will be easier to do the older they get.
- Teach your kids life skills such as cooking, camping, about money and finances, how to talk to people and problem solve. They will be much more confident and independent as they grow up.
- Let your kids fail! Let them learn what disappointment is like or experiences failures. They will grow up to be much stronger and more appreciative.
- Don’t get involved in their problems or disagreements with other kids, co workers, bosses etc. Let them figure out how to solve a problem.
- Let them determine what they are interested in and what they aren’t! Don’t force them to do a sport or activity they don’t want to do. Let them pick and support them.
Now we are in no way saying let them do everything on their own or make all decisions on their own. Many of these things will be based upon their age and what they are experiencing but a great way to help would be to let them know you are always there to listen and to help. Let them know they can come to and you will always be there to talk and listen to them. Be there if they need, not always hovering over them when they don’t need you.
Why Being A Smothering Parent Will Negatively Impact Your Marriage
Chances are, if you are a smothering parent, these tendencies will also spill over into your marriage and how you treat your spouse. If you are expecting perfection from your kids, you are probably going to be expecting perfection from your spouse. If you are making all of your childs decisions, you are probably doing the same thing in your marriage. Here are some of the negative impacts a smothering parent can bring into the marriage:
- Smothering parents are often very negative as they demand perfection. If nothing is ever good enough, It’s probably going to be the same in the marriage.
- Smothering parents are so involved in their kids lives, they often are exhausted and don’t have the energy to give to their spouse at the end of the day.
- Smothering parents often have sexual intimacy issues or experience much less sexual satisfaction in their marriage.
- If all of your time is spent with your kids, you aren’t going to have time for your spouse.
- If you and your spouse have different parenting styles or approaches on how to raise the kids, this will certainly cause serious issues in your marriage. You need to be on the same page parenting.
- Kids with smothering parents often have behavior issues as well as anxiety or depression. This will cause additional stress and potential issues for the parents.
- If all the attention is on the kids, this could cause some jealousy issues in the marriage.
Allowing your kids to make their own decisions, and make a few mistakes along the way will help them build the confidence and abilities they need for future success.
For other great resources on how to improve your marriage check out the AMAZING Ultimate Intimacy App!