Have you fallen into the “over parenting” trap?

Last week I attended a great talk with the Former Dean of Stanford, Julie Lythcott Haims. I found her words both inspiring and interesting. The theme of the talk was around parents “overparenting” their children, or “helicopter parenting”. The parents need/ desire to become over involved in their child’s life.

The reason she inspired me, was the fact that she had been a lawyer for corporations before her time at stanford. She said although she was successful in this career, she felt like she was dying inside. Everything from the outside looked great, the great career, and business but she needed to facilitate the fact that she is a people person and move into something of that nature. Hence ending up at Stanford. It really made me believe in the quote, by another inspirational lady Oprah Winfrey (2016) “You’ve got to follow your passion. You’ve got to figure out what it is you really love — who you really are. And have the courage to do that. I believe that the courage anybody ever really needs is the courage to follow your dreams.” So many people are stuck in jobs they don’t like, doing what they don’t want to do. I commend her for taking the step to make changes in her life. She definitely found her purpose.

Parenting talk with Julie Lythcott Haims

I found the talk interesting. As an Early Childhood Educator for over 10 years, I have seen many many parenting methods. Many beliefs from parents, and some I have agreed with and some I have not. I have worked in schools, and homes and I have really studied the different ways children act in home versus in the school environment. One observation I found is that children act very different when they are with their parents, than when they are with their nanny, and again when they are in school. I came to an interesting realization through Julie’s talk, children act differently in all these different environments, based on the expectations adults have of them.For example, take a four year old. The four year old has been getting himself dressed for over 6 weeks, and is fully capable. Grandma comes to visit, and automatically gets him dressed, lets call the child Fred dressed. Fred says nothing and lets Grandma dress him. Fred’s Grandma didn’t have the expectation on Fred to get himself dressed, so he didn’t.

Through the talk by Julie she mentioned that parents that do more for their children and expect less, begin to have these children that are reliant on others. I truly believe that children should be doing chores around the house and having responsibility to encourage the child to become reliant upon his/herself, and have the confidence and self-esteem to believe in themselves that they CAN get things done.


Child psychologist Richard Bromfield, a psychologist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School states, “It can be helpful for parents to remember that the payoffs of assigning and enforcing chores, such as a sense of competency and a budding work ethic, can be significant, he said. That’s true even if it requires parents to do some of the work themselves, as it likely will when kids are very small.

“When kids are really young, they want to help you rake leaves or prepare dinner,” Bromfield said. “Take those opportunities to let kids help. Those moments are infused with love and connection. By the time they’re older and really able to do [those tasks] competently, they’ve lost interest.” Bromfield, albernaz 2015)

Julie discussed the importance of passion. The freshman would come into the University and when she asked them WHY they were studying what they were studying. They were unable to answer. It was as though their parents had pushed them to study these different subject areas, but weren’t taking into account the passions of the children. Especially in affluent families where parents can afford the best schools and colleges. The students didn’t know themselves. They had been prepared in life to get the best grades, but now their parents weren’t telling them what they should like and how they should be. They didn’t know WHY they were doing what they were doing. I found this observation very interesting. Thinking back to my own childhood, having not grown up in an affluent home, however, my Father observed me as a child, and nurtured the qualities flourished in, and encouraged me to excel. I did chores at home, I had a part-time job from the age of 15, put myself through university, and came to live in America on my own. Everything I told my Father I would do, I did. I never remember a time were he doubted me or pushed me to do something I didn’t want to do academically. This brings me back to a quote from Osho, a spiritual Teacher and healer from India.

“ If you love a flower, don’t pick it up. Because if you pick it up it dies and ceases to be what you love. So if you love a flower, let it be. Love is not about possession. Love is about appreciation. ” ~ Osho

In the same way, we can appreciate the child, and nurture their qualities and positive attributes, be respectful of what they say and what they want to become. We can then assist them learn life skills, by giving them chores, and responsibilities and teach them how to manage their time. These are the tools children need to flourish and grow later in life. Its time to transition back to raising adults, rather than handing everything to a child, and then expecting them to grow into independent and thriving adults.

As always, thank you for reading.


Bromfield, Albernaz (2015) https://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/2015/12/08/research-indicates-sparing-chores-spoils-children-and-their-future-selves/ZLvMznpC5btmHtNRXXhNFJ/story.html


Oprah Winfrey (2016) http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/554552-you-ve-got-to-follow-your-passion-you-ve-got-to-figure

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