The problem of over-parenting

One of the most common problems I see in adolescents, and especially well-off adolescents, is a lack of a true sense of self. Many of these teens have all the outward appearances of success in that they tend to be personable, academically successful, and good at sports. But this outer veneer hides their inner confusion, despair, and often a lack of true intrinsic motivation.

This is usually caused by an overinvolved parent or parents, who tend to be overly concerned with outward appearances, such as their child’s grades or how successful they are at dance, their sport, etc. These parents are bound by the fear of not having a high-achieving child, and their anxiety is often transferred to their children.

As a result, these teens have their lives taken away and end up going through the motions and living their lives to please others, whether it be their parents, teachers, coaches, or friends. This leads to a feeling of emptiness within them, killing their motivation and creativity.

Many of these parents intervene on behalf of their children whenever a problem arises. This causes a form of learned helplessness to develop in your child and robs them of valuable opportunities to develop their self-confidence.

As children get older, they need and want to make more of their own decisions. If parents instead made the decision to encourage their child to solve problems and support their child’s efforts, this would allow their child to gain valuable experience and develop their sense of self.

Many well-meaning parents hinder their children’s ability to develop a sense of self by comparing their teens to other teens, pushing them to achieve external measures of success, such as prestigious schools or high-paying careers, and being overly critical of decisions What are you drinking.

The lack of a sense of self is highly related to almost all emotional disorders such as depression, anxiety, anorexia and cuts. Today’s children have so many schedules that they miss out on one of the most important ingredients in developing a sense of self: unstructured play and free time.

Children also need time to fantasize and daydream almost as much as all humans need sleep to rest and replenish their bodies. It is immensely important to their development and discovery of who they are and crucial to their future happiness.

Adolescents from wealthy backgrounds are especially at risk for later emotional problems because they are rarely given the opportunity to practice and learn self-control skills. This often stems from having a parent or parents who are so focused on their child’s “happiness” that they feel they are obligated to limit any frustration or distress in their child’s life.

Research shows us that the best way to achieve lasting “happiness” is through developing resilience and the ability to persevere through difficulties. I find that when young people talk about being happy, many confuse “happiness” with experiencing pleasure.

Winning a competition, getting a good grade, or having a girlfriend or boyfriend are pleasant things, but they have little to do with happiness. that is why it is so effective to develop resilience and the ability to persevere. When those abilities become a part of you, it gives you an earned sense of self.

Please let go of the reins and allow your teens to fail, just be there to help them figure it out when they do. Act as an ally to them and not a protectorate and they will gain valuable coping skills. Those skills will last a lifetime and serve to make them happy and successful, even in the face of life’s problems. You can help them win the long game by resisting the false lure of focusing on their short-term happiness and success or, more accurately, “the appearance of their happiness and success” and instead focusing on developing their individual sense of self. themselves.

You can follow Sam on Twitter @SuperTaoInc

*= I will post a future blog with a more detailed explanation on the difference between pleasure and happiness.

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November 24, 2022