Archive for August 19th, 2010

August 19, 2010

You probably can be a parent AND have a life of your own

by Rod Smith

Bravely begin claiming back your life

Bravely begin claiming back your life

Over-parenting can be as damaging as child neglect. While I am aware of this somewhat harsh generalization, I cannot help but call to mind the many over-focused parents I have met who, in the name of parenting, lost their lives to their children and in the process, all but consumed their children. Such parents are usually taken aback when the children fight back in a desperate search for room to breathe. If you identified yourself in yesterday’s column and would like to move toward a more healthy position, here are a few initial, or small step, suggestions:

1. Announce your insight about your propensity to over-parent to your spouse (or, in the absence of a spouse, to a few trusted close friends) and declare your desire to give everyone around you more room to move.
2. Do not be afraid – if this is at first even possible. Establishing space and healthy separation will not damage your child. Not doing so might. You are not rejecting your child. If you’ve been over-parenting it is likely your child desires some space even if he or she appears to resist your moves toward some independence. Children are as resistant to change as most people.
3. Forge personal interests unrelated to your child. Fake your enthusiasm if you have to, but get involved in something outside of the home. Come on! Think. You did have a life before you had a child. Reach out to it.
4. Reconnect with old friends to reestablish a community of support. Be careful, initially, to avoid other child-obsessed parents as you try to break your addiction to your child.

5. Make a priority to invest time in the relationship with your spouse. I believe that children are happier when they know that their parents do not depend on the children being happy, but rather that the parents’ relationship is strong. (Added by Vincent Randy)