A family came in for counseling. They had some conflicts going on among them. The mother was stressed out and felt she was not being understood at all. The rest of the family felt she was losing her temper quite often.
The daughter’s complain was that her mother did not allow her to go out much. She did not have many friends. Once she had planned some shopping with her close friend. She sought permission and wanted to know how long she could be away.
She was given permission of two hours, but the mother insisted on accompanying. The daughter was totally irritated and refused to allow the mother. The mother justified saying the daughter is young and good looking and she did not want to take chances. She later offered to be at the mall, not with the daughter. The daughter felt further offended.
When parents do not learn to let go, (baby steps at first, but nevertheless let go,) then there will be friction. At any age, a hovering parent cannot lead to any learning or responsibility for the child. As children grow older, they need to be encouraged to take care of themselves and attend to their personal needs. They need to be shown how certain chores are done, and then allowed to do it for themselves.
I suggested to the mother to come in for stress management. She keeps hearing about assaults and crisis that children face in everyday life. So she feels she needs to be around to protect her children. She needs to learn to believe in the depth of her love and the values she has imparted to her children. The lurking fear will be there, but she will not be so stressed when she learns to let go. She needs to trust her daughter and hope she has conveyed enough lessons that will guide her daughter.
Hovering parents tend to micro manage their children. They are also called helicopter parents! Because of their tendency to hover. A child was asked to make her bed. She tried, it was not a great finish. One parent just hugged her and thanked her. Later she finished the chore herself. Another mother picked on all the areas the daughter had missed and made the girl feel miserable. That child has refused to do any chores around the house.
This type of parenting is not appropriate. So is hovering or micro managing. If the mother were to stand and keep giving a running commentary of how the task has to be done, it will frustrate the child. Once the child is shown how a task is done, maybe the parent can monitor a couple of times. But later the child has to be allowed to follow a pattern that he/she is comfortable with. If you as a parent want things done exactly to fit your mold, you will stress yourself and the child.
Most parents get anxious when children tend to spend more time with friends than with them. They try to be a part of whatever the child does, want a complete account of how things were done and so end up making the child’s life miserable.
This hovering gets carried over to the adult child’s life too. Who he/she spends time with, who he/she is talking to, and especially when the son/daughter is married. The marriage is run by this hovering parent. One wife complained how she was not encouraged to make any dishes in the kitchen. The mother-in-law would hover, instructing how the dish has to be prepared. The mother’s defense was she knows exactly how her son likes his food.
Every parent needs to keep an eye out to see that his/her child is not hurt. And every parent needs to be available for the child. This is the message children need to have, their parents are there for them every time. Just as you cannot walk for your child, you cannot live your child’s life. Constantly giving instructions can be damaging, it can also turn your child into a dependent personality. He/she cannot take an independent step or decision. Will always look for guidance and support.
It is the parent’s job to make the child resilient. To encourage creative thinking and decision making skills. Only then the person will make a mark in society. The parent can feel proud then. Parents need to learn to let go, and pick up other activities to keep themselves occupied. This way the stress is less for both the parent and the child.