• Most of us start off with great intentions and pretty much the same basic goals and hopes for our children.
    Short term goals of parenting: Keeping children safe, happy, healthy and loved.
    Long term goals of parenting: Raising adults who are kind, self-sufficient, grateful, respectful, happy and independent.

    However, sometimes when we think we’re helping and protecting our children we may actually be causing the opposite effect. The way that our culture and parenting have evolved is making many parents raise children who are fearful, dependent, ungrateful and entitled. So unless you are looking to support ungrateful and entitled children, under your own roof, until they are into middle age- or beyond, it’s time to re-examine parenting to see where changes need to be made so that we don’t get sidetracked!

    Natural Consequences

    Actions have consequences. Or they should and would if we did not always intervene. Allowing your child to learn the natural consequences of certain behaviors is much less painful when they are young than when they are older.

    When we hover and do not allow our children to do things on their own we do not allow them the chance to rely upon their own problem solving skills.

    An example is a small child who decides to grab a toy from a bigger child. The bigger child may push the first child over or kick him/her. If parents do not intervene before the smaller child is hit/pushed an important lesson will be learned by the smaller child – Do not pick a fight with someone stronger or more powerful than you. This lesson was learned with a bump or a scrape. Wouldn’t you rather your child learn this lesson at an age and stage when the only weapons are hands and legs, not knives or guns? Protecting your child constantly will give him/her a false sense of security and invincibility that will not serve him/her well when you are no longer able to offer protection.

    Making Mistakes

    People learn from their difficulties and mistakes, not from their successes. And we do not learn from someone else’s retelling of their mistakes, we learn mostly from our own. Think about this for a moment to be sure that you see how true this is in life. And now think about where parenting has evolved – for many people it has become a frenzy of preventing children from feeling any discomfort or from making mistakes, denying that they have done anything wrong, and protecting them from the natural consequences of their mistakes and actions.

    An example is a child who is not working hard in a class and who is getting a mediocre or poor grade. Because of the low grade this child is not allowed to join the football (or gymnastics, baseball – you can substitute anything here) team. This child’s parents then go into the school to argue with the teacher, principal, coach to try to get around the rules so that their child can join the team. What lesson is being set for the child in this scenario? That s/he is special and that the rules do not apply to him/her. Should the child believe this to be true because of his/her parents intervening time and time again, this child will fail miserably once out in the world—if you do not do well in college you do not graduate. When you do not work hard at your job and do not finish tasks you get fired.

    Imagine the child who is not invited to a birthday party and comes home feeling disappointed. If parents jump in to call the parents hosting the party and do whatever is necessary to have their child invited, the message being sent is that the party is of vital importance and that it is not a minor disappointment to be overcome. This does not allow the child to keep the party in proper perspective nor to learn how to deal with disappointment.

    A last example is the child who is intelligent and capable but completely unmotivated to do homework. The parents argue/bribe/punish and pressure the child to complete homework assignments. So with the parents so consumed by homework, why would the child need to worry about it? The child figures this is not his/her problem- it’s on the shoulders of his/her parents and this becomes an endless cycle.

    Now imagine a child who fails a class because of not turning in homework assignments. This child must take classes on the weekends, or during the summer, to make up for the bad grade. Should this child refuse, and fail the grade completely, amazingly enough it is the same child who will be repeating that grade while his/her peers are in the grade above. This is extreme, and less than ideal, but why is it the parents’ problem? The parents already went through school, did homework, passed classes, and graduated. Allowing your children to make mistakes, and allowing natural consequences to teach lessons to your children is a way for them to learn about the realities of life in a world where you are not their lifelong personal concierge.


    Why do parents hover and intervene constantly? Because of fear – fear they are imparting upon their children. Fear of strangers, accidents, failure, sadness, and frustration, to name a few. As parents we need to take a step back to calmly look at what the risks truly are, and to adjust ourselves. We no longer allow our children the very basics of liberties we enjoyed at their ages. When we hover and do not allow our children to do things on their own we do not allow them the chance to rely upon their own problem solving skills. Children, at some point, need to feel comfortable walking down the street, and to friend’s/neighbor’s homes. It is fine to have them start out walking only in pairs, and to be sure that they call when they arrive. If you keep them on too short of a leash they will never learn to trust their own instincts or their ability to manage the difficulties and glitches in life. Parents need to figure out the difference between keeping children safe and keeping them tethered.

    The world can be a scary place. The media magnifies the frightening and negative which makes most of us more fearful than we need to be. So it takes a conscious effort to step back in order to allow our children to breathe… and stumble and get hurt and fall. And as unpleasant as it may be to see your children struggle when they are young, it sure beats the alternative – adults who are unwilling to struggle & fail, re-direct themselves, and stand on their own. When you find yourself hovering, needlessly intervening, and imparting your own fears, make the effort to catch yourself. Let your children live and learn a bit while they are young and you are still able to provide a safe base. When they fail you can sympathize and be a sounding board for them about where they went wrong and what corrections they need to make. Let them work things through themselves, only chiming in when absolutely necessary, and then you can congratulate them and feel true pride when they succeed.