From shopping to eating out, hanging out with Shefali always seemed to be quite tiresome for me. She is the most indecisive person I have ever met. A person who would spend an hour buying handkerchiefs, spend more time reading the menu than her textbooks. Her answers to most questions would always start with “Maybe” “I guess” “I think so” “My parents feel it’s right for me”. Taking decisions used to not only be time consuming, but even a fatiguing process for her.
It’s not until recently, that I was able to realize the reason for her behavior. Research shows that a child’s behavioral patterns are shaped from the age group of 1-5 years. A simple case of responsiveness, of a parent to its crying child is an apt example. How often does a mother tend to her crying child? Every time the baby cries, most of the time, sometimes, occasionally, never. Yes it does hurt to see your child crying, but the very fact that tending to him every single time he cries, makes him very dependent on you.
The baby should know that there are times when you cannot be there for him. This is a small yet significant sign of the baby turning into a dependent child of over engaging parents.
Over engaging or over protective parents are those type of parents who micro manage every affair of their child. Starting from who their friends should be, what they should eat, wear,what career they should take up etc. Yes, I know as a daughter that parents are concerned about us. But do you know that by not allowing us to make our own decisions you are crippling us for life?
Children of over engaged parents are known to face low self-esteem issues, poorly developed problem solving skills, low social skills as well as difficulty in making decisions. By giving the fish to your child, you are snatching away his or her opportunity to learn a new skill of fishing. We as teenagers and children will take wrong decisions, make lots of mistakes but we assure you, that we will learn from it and become much stronger. If you keep taking decisions for your children and continue to solve their problems, they will be unable to cope with even minor issues, and this will cause anxiety, depression and other mental health problems.
As parents it is healthy to be involved in our affairs to ask us about our lives, studies and even friends. But over engaging in our matters will make us quite frustrated as it not only kills our privacy and space, but even destroys our ability to think for ourselves.
In some situations, in order to attain freedom and space, the child can become a pathological liar. Where lying, hiding and concealing facts from their parents and peers might seem the only way to gain the space they deserve. In this way, the child can live two dimensions of his or her life. One, the actual self which society and his parents pressure him to stay within. And the other, is the ideal self, where he might lie in order to get away from the pushy and over engaging affairs of his parents.
I am sure most of us would have come across people like Shefali in our lives. And we must have wondered how they find it so difficult to take even simple, insignificant decisions. Shefali has not only been brought up by helicopter parents but has also grown immune to it.
As a parent it’s important to know that it is your duty to sow the seeds, water the sapling and in the end of the day, the plant will grow by itself. Excess of water, fertilizers and manure will never ensure the growth of a healthy plant. Similarly micro managing your child’s affairs, solving their problems and taking all their decisions for them, will not guarantee you, a strong, confident child in the future.
Dear parents, trust us, guide us, love us and in the end of the day, instill in us the potential to stand tall and solve our own problems.