Over-Indulgence And Over-Attentiveness 'Two Dangers Parents Must Avoid!
We're all familiar with the over-indulgent parent. But
there's another parenting practice that can be equally
It's possible to be one or the other 'or in some cases,
Let's look first of all at the differences.
I'm sure you've come across the stereotype: Parents who
constantly ply their kids with material goods and treats of
every kind, and who will go to any length to ensure their
little darlings want for nothing, but have the biggest and
best of everything.
This behaviour is always prompted by a certain lack or need
within the parents. They often dote on their kids, but what
such parents are really doing is attempting to work out
their own inadequacies.
Perhaps they lacked attention when they were kids 'and it
hurt. Maybe they had to go without things 'and it was
humiliating. Now they make up for it by ensuring that THEIR
kids have everything!
Or it could be that they lack confidence in their parenting
abilities, and have no real interest in kids.
They are unsure how to relate to children, yet have a need
(or at least a desire) to be liked, appreciated, or accepted
- and they think over-indulging their kid's every whim is
the way to do it.
This can have disastrous consequences for the child's
For a start, such children become self-centred, spoiled, and
unhealthy. Often they become disrespectful, since children
are adept at spotting parental weaknesses, which they soon
come to despise.
Later in life these over-indulged kids tend to develop
further problems, such as eating disorders, weight-related
health issues, addictions, and they often lack patience and
tolerance when they can't instantly get their own way.
On the other hand there can be parents who, while not over-
indulging their kids, try to supervise every aspect of their
They watch them at play, they stand over them doing
homework, and if there's the slightest hint of a problem at
school 'either with a friend or a teacher 'they're down
there creating a scene!
This behaviour, too, is prompted by a need within the
parent, usually a deep-seated fear or anxiety about the
normal risks in everyday life, which they feel they must
protect their children from.
The effects of over-attentiveness can be more subtle 'but
Because such children have not been allowed to experiment
with life 'to climb trees and cut their knees, to have
altercations with others and realise their own way is not
the only, or even the best, way 'they tend
to develop fear and timidity whenever their mentor is not
there sticking up for them.
They have been deprived of a testing-ground in which to
develop their strengths and become aware of their
shortcomings. This often breeds embarrassment as well as
resentment, and the poor parents are baffled! They've only
been doing their duty, after all!
There can be an even more serious consequence when the child
becomes an adult: Decision-making becomes a problem.
Taking decisions involves the weighing up of risks, a
consideration of the pros and cons in a situation. If this
skill has not been developed in childhood 'if the child has
been deprived of the opportunity 'then he will be an
indecisive adult who lacks the confidence to be effective.
The solution for overindulgent and over-attentive parents is
one I keep stressing in my writing: They need to develop
confidence in themselves.
But they needn't despair, as opportunities for development
If you feel any of this applies to you, check out these
opportunities. Visit your local college, bookshop or
library, go online 'see what's on offer. You'll be spoiled
But take action. Just do it!
You can begin to understand your own needs in a relatively
short time, and with insight into your own psychological and
emotional make-up, you will begin to look at your kids in a
You will begin to moderate the amount of indulgence, because
the need to over-compensate will no longer be there.
If you recognise your own fears and anxieties, you'll be
less likely to pass them on to your kids by being over-
Supervise your children and help them steer clear of
danger, yes 'but let them manage their own conflicts. You
can be there on the sidelines with words of support, advice
and encouragement 'but them experience the rough and tumble
of life for themselves.
Knowing you're giving your child a solid preparation for the
future, you'll feel satisfaction in a job well done.
About the Author
Frank McGinty's writes motivational books for both parents
and teenagers. If you want to develop your parenting skills
and encourage your kids to be all they can be, visit his