Over the last 19 years of my career as a practising psychologist, one of the most common problems I have encountered in parenting is that we “love too much” and “give too much” as parents.
What do I mean by this and why does it happen?
Providing love and protection to our children is essential and not problematic, but providing excessive love and protection without healthy boundaries in parenting can be problematic.
Often, this tendency comes from the parents’ past experiences of being harshly disciplined, neglected, deprived, hurt, rejected, abandoned or of financial scarcity. There is frequently an unrecognized reaction to these experiences leading to a subconscious belief that “ if only I can provide what I lacked in my childhood to my children, their lives will be complete!”. The unhealed wounds are often accompanied by insecurity and this reflects in a tendency of over-doing “just in case….” Unbeknown to these well meaning parents, their pendulum has swung to the extreme in the opposite direction to their childhood experiences which can create a whole new set of problems.
Often, the more the extensive the childhood lack, hurt or imbalance, the bigger the scale of the over-compensation that can occur by the parent.
There are many contributing factors to this relationship but one of the most common current scenarios relates to parents coming out of a divorce. Because our society defines “maintaining an intact family” as a success regardless of the family dynamics involved, many divorced parents tend to over-compensate by over-providing and over-protecting their children because they feel guilty.
The parents often claim that they “owe their children a normal family”. The problem is that if parents carry the tag of “I owe you”; the children often will respond to such with “you owe me!”
It is important for parents to maintain healthy boundaries based on self respect and not prioritise their children’s well being by giving their power away with over-compensating behaviour. The risk associated with this is that some children may develop the undesirable attitude of “prince and princess syndrome”, the sense of entitlement, disrespect or blaming the parents.
By taking ourselves for granted as parents, we will attract others including our children to take us for granted. Therefore, as parents, the more we give, the more we are expected to give. It’s never ending, exhausting and hugely disappointing. The very children we over-love and over-protect for years may treat us with undeserved disrespect, anger and ungratefulness in return.
Are you wondering: How do I know what to do? How can I ever be a balanced loving parent?
In truth, we are all parents who do our very best at the time… However, if you recognise any of these tendencies or feel that your family is a “bit out of balance” then professional help is very empowering to identify patterns and enable change….
For parents to be, it is an opportunity to work with a professional, to identify shared and differing parenting assumptions and values with the goal to adopt loving “one house one rule” parenting boundaries and philosophies.
Book Now to consult with Lynne, our specialist family and relationship psychologist.
Dr Lynne Wu
Lynne is a caring and approachable practitioner who is dedicated to enhancing life with counselling services to her clients of all ages and situations. Coming from a multi-cultural background and speaking fluent Mandarin and Taiwanese enhances her ability to assist those who can benefit from her multi-language skills and cultural understanding. She has successfully overcome many personal challenges and this helps her relate to a wide range of circumstances.