Overparenting Makes Kids Sad

Parenthood Isn't Easy

In trying to accommodate our kids and make them happy, psychologist Richard Weissbourd says that we’re making them less happy.

Weissbourd’s book “The Parents We Mean to Be: How Well-Intentioned Adults Undermine Children’s Moral and Emotional Development” argues that doting parents who cater to their children’s every need and whim create “more fragile, entitled, and self-occupied” kids.

Parents today (myself included) are so concerned with making their kids happy. Are we just making them miserable?

In a Washington Post review of the book, Nora Krug writes that Weissbourd “offers compelling evidence and vivid examples” of overparenting. Weissbourd writes about one case of a mother who changed her outfit several times until her 5-year-old daughter finally approved.

Going out of our way to make our kids happy “make children not only less moral but, ironically, less happy,” writes Weissbourd, who says that parents who are too enmeshed with their kids hinder their children’s growth.

He points out that parents who pick up after their kids, get overly involved in their schoolwork and value their kids’ “trivial preferences” above their own, prevent their children from developing morally and emotionally.

I admit that sometimes I fear that my husband and I are overly involved in our kids’ lives. On the weekends, we routinely ask them, “what do you want to do today?” rather than making a plan and bringing them along. Do we cater to them too much? And by worrying that I’m overparenting am I just making myself crazy?

I admit that I often wish we could return to a time before parenting labels: free-range parent, helicopter parent, attachment parent. I think it’s great that parents take their job seriously, but in all of this self-awareness, I fear we’re creating a new category: neurotic parents.

What do you think?

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photo: Mariner Books

Article Posted 6 years Ago
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