Are You A Problem Parent?
I write on this subject from the experience of raising children of my own and dealing with and observing other parents and their children for a period of 5+ years as a board member of a small town summer baseball league. My husband was League Commissioner during that time period. I found it very interesting to watch the behaviors resulting from the different parenting styles.
Warning Signs and Prevention
We often hear or read about conflict between child and coach or teacher from a parent’s point of view, but seldom do we delve into teachers’ complaints on the subject. As the adult in the equation, the teacher or other authority figure is expected to retain control of a given situation. The reins of control are loosened when a problem parent enters into the picture.
Some parents simply delight in “stirring the pot”. Others do not see themselves as being problematic. That is not to say one should never take up for their child. On the contrary, there are instances in which one would be remiss in not checking closely into a situation. However, some parents tend to run interference too much. Even though they may have good intentions, running interference too much for a child can be detrimental to him or her.
There are warning signs that signal one may be a problem parent. Honest answers to the questions below may help parents recognize certain behaviors, their own and their child’s that may indicate problem parenting:
1. Do you often intervene on your child’s behalf?
2. Does your child always look to you to take care of a problem?
3. Are you pushier than other parents you know in situations pertaining to your child?
4. Do you always try to make things better for your child?
5. Can your child deal with uncomfortable situations without falling apart?
You may see a problem parent “working the crowd” at school functions, stirring dissension between other parents and teachers. Effects on their children vary greatly. Children of problem parents may be those “in your face” kids who think rules apply to everyone except them, or perhaps the child you noticed attempting to hide behind the water cooler to escape notice, especially when his/her parents are present.
Recognizing unsuitable behavior in oneself is the first step in correcting the tendency to be a problem parent. The next is actually having the desire not to be one.
If you wish to avoid joining the ranks of problem parents, or would like to reverse the tendency you may have recognized in yourself, the following guidelines may help:
1. Do not complain about a teacher or coach in the presence of your children. Unless you believe there is a serious problem, in which case you should take it up with whomever the complaint is against, try letting the child work it out with the teacher.
2. If your child is complaining to you about a teacher or coach, always pay attention to what they are saying, but remember that kids will play parents against teachers if they fall for it. Do not encourage dissension. Instead, offer your child ideas on how he/she might handle the matter on their own.
3. Is it always someone else’s fault? One may rest assured, it is not. Whether or not you believe your child, letting him/her get by with spouting off this excuse every time something happens is doing the child a great disservice. This can turn into a lifelong habit that will not be well received in the work force or any other facet of the grown up world.
4. If a situation has gone far enough that you feel you must speak with the teacher or coach, always listen to both sides of the story. Hear them out before making assumptions.
On the opposite side of the scale, overbearing parents who constantly check on how their child is progressing can cause a lack of confidence in their children. That child may be working hard at doing their best for their parents, but forgetting to be proud of the successes they have already attained.
Parents want what is best for their children. Making the determination on what is best for them is where we begin to differ. Parents who never interfere are probably as bad as the parents who always interfere. Striking a balance seems to be the key.
Whether it is our parenting skills in question, or children learning to deal with life, mistakes give knowledge, as do successes. We celebrate our child’s successes, but we must also teach them to deal with failure. If we do our part as parents, our children will soon discover truth in the old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.