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Overparenting and Socialization

by Ronald A. Rowe | April 9th, 2013 | Elementary

paperbagI attended an arts and crafts session this week with my first grader and couldn’t help but notice that the rampant overparenting of this generation continues unabated. My son put together the ugliest paper bag puppet in the history of paper bags. It was awful. But he did it. I supervised. I gave suggestions. I helped with the scissors. But he made the butt-ugly thing himself.

As he colored away I watched the young mother next to us make a spectacular bear puppet that could be on the cover of Paper Bag Puppets Monthly. She designed it, cut it, glued it, and “fixed” the rough patches in his coloring while he skipped around the room and insulted other children. She cleaned up his work area while he ran in circles and and tossed rubber balls around the classroom. She said nothing when he threw the scissors across the table to another child. HE THREW SCISSORS. I’m pretty sure that is in the top five no no’s of arts and crafts.

As we introduce our elementary students into new social settings, we need to keep focus on the socialization and not on competition. Yes, it is good for little Johnny’s self-esteem if he has the best looking puppet in the group. But it is far better for little Johnny’s overall development and character if he makes the puppet himself. And in the long run you will both be better off if you teach him manners and courtesy rather than indulging every self-centered whim of his natural being.

It’s everywhere, in every activity. And you think the rest of the parents don’t see it, but they do. It’s pretty clear when you make Little Susie’s science project for her. You’re doing what you think you need to do to help her get ahead but the truth of the matter is that you are holding her back. Earning a B on her own is better than getting an A she doesn’t deserve.

To be clear, this is not an excuse for lazy underparenting. We don’t say, “good luck with that” and leave the elementary children to their own devices. But be careful about crossing that line between supporting and overtaking. Your child won’t appreciate it now. He or she probably won’t appreciate it a year from now. But many years down the road, when he or she has grown into a responsible adult your discretion now will have been worth it.

  1. Michele says:

    Agreed! As a former teacher and a parent of teens, I commend you for your approach to parenting. I despised take-home projects, as I knew a good percentage of them would be completed by parents. (Who, of course, would deny that.) My own children have learned that they can ask for feedback or a quick edit, but the assignments are theirs to complete and the grade theirs to earn.

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