ADHP–Attention Demanding Hyperactive Parenting

Carla: I’m coining a new term: ADHP–Attention Demanding Hyperactive Parenting. It’s my–and maybe your–tendency to over-parent.

I’ve had a few conversations lately that have me wondering if I am too worried, too protective, too uptight with my kids. We aren’t what I would consider strict or rigid parents–we don’t have a lot of rules or systems or charts in place. Our kids have a lot of input into how we operate as a family and we try not to say no unless we have a good reason to. That’s worked well for us so far.

But we have a teenager now, which means there are a new set of issues looming on the horizon. And now I’m starting to wonder if I’m holding on too tight, being too rigid, protecting her from…growing up?

I don’t think of myself as a so-called helicopter parent who looms over my kids, watching and micromanaging their every move. But then, helicopter parents don’t really think they are helicopter parents, do they? So how do I know when I’m overparenting? How do I know when to let go a little bit?

I am a big believer that part of my job is to protect my children’s innocence because once it’s gone, it doesn’t come back. So we say no to most PG-13 movies and music with lyrics that aren’t appropriate for a 13-year-old girl to sing along to (“Love the Way You Lie” anyone?). I don’t let my 9-year-old play video games where people are killed. None of the kids have their own phones. But I don’t want to raise those kids who turn 18, head to college, and have no idea how to function in the world because their parents have made all of their choices for them and they have no idea how to filter out the good from the bad.

I also realize that there is no rule of thumb for parental protection. Location plays a part: We would parent quite differently if we lived 10 blocks in any direction from where we live. 10 blocks north and I’d be worried about letting them play in the yard without me there. 10 blocks west and I’d let them ride their bikes anywhere they wanted to go. And obviously their ages play a part. But I play the biggest part–my fears, both rational an not-so-rational, and my hopes for them–and I just don’t know how I’m doing.

So tell me Revolutionaries, how do you know when you’re being overly protective? How do you stop over parenting?

OOOOH! And update! Our friend Makeesha pointed me to this link today. It helps a bit.


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Wendy on August 31, 2010 at 11:41 am

    I struggle with that question too. I force myself to try and override the overprotectiveness, and let the kids play outside by themselves. We are blessed to have a lot of kids within a few houses of each other, so there is always someone to play with. I remember those good times when I was a kid, and want my kids to have the same experiences. However, even growing up in a “good” part of Minneapolis, my sister and I had a few scary stranger encounters. So that is always in the back of my head, the “what-ifs.” It’s really hard to not give into those fears, and we’ve had quite a few stranger-danger talks, and I intend to keep having them. But then, you don’t want to make them afraid of the world, so where do you draw that line?

    I used to walk home from kindergarten by myself. I crossed Lyndale Avenue at a light, and look, I survived. I’m not sure I would let my kids do that though. I just talked to my friend who has a fourth grader. She will be walking home alone after school this year, crossing a fairly busy street, and staying home alone for about 3 hours. That terrifies me!

    I guess you have to go with your gut, but man, it’s scary being a parent!


  2. I do think we are in an age of overparenting, but for most people I know, the fears aren’t as extreme as worry about kidnapping and such, but more along the lines of worrying about the future security of their children with regards to happiness as defined by the culture and world around us. Such as the “if my kids don’t start baseball at age 4 they will be behind and not able to compete with other kids and eventually not able to get into the college they want” mentality. I think we as moms have to be careful that we aren’t buying into a cultural value system that promotes busyness and overscheduling for the purpose of helping our kids attain future glory as the world sees it. I know I have struggled with this personally, but meeting moms who have made conscious decisions not to fall trap into materialism, success- and achievement-orientation, consumerism, etc. helps a great deal in evaluating my own ideas.

    It is tricky to walk that balance between being involved in our kids’ lives the proper amount and not overdoing it. But I think nothing is wrong with making choices for our kids to protect their innocence as you say, Carla. I think especially in the culture we live in today, parents have to be proactive to know what our kids are watching and interacting with, not for the sake of retreating from the world we live in, but to be informed about those choices and to be able to explain our decisions when appropriate to our kids. I think that’s the best way to eventually prepare them to make their own decisions about what to watch and such–if they understand our thinking about our choices, that will hopefully help them think similarly when their time comes to make their own choices.

    So while I’m not ready to let my 8 year old read the kissing scenes in Harry Potter, and I’m not quite ready to tell him why those chapters are off limits, one day in the not-so-distant future the time will come when I will talk about it…I guess I’ll just eventually know when the time is right to do so! =)


  3. Posted by Angie on September 5, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Wow. Right on as always…
    My baby just started kindergarten (BEFORE labor day !?!). She is now askingfor a cell phone (mainily because we are so worried they are going to loose her, and she is trying to reassure us, lol). I think thereare so many issues that we are dealing with that our parents never fathomed… cell phones, e-mail, computers, facebook. I did not grow up in the best area of Minneapolis, yet was still able to play outside by myself (in the yard) and for some reason this still makes me nervous for Christine. Letting go for Kndergarden is a big step, and unbelievably difficult. The funny thing is she is only 7 blocks from home at school, some how that seems like a thousand miles…… I also find amusing that my husband tends to hover much more than I do, and our parents had opposite styles. I usually try to compare my choices to parents I know, who have earned my respect and are doing a good job, this helps me.. also talking to any other parent.


  4. Posted by Kaydi on September 10, 2010 at 11:23 am

    I like this question- but what’s even harder is when you feel like your children’s friend’s parents are either too soft or too hard on their kids. One thing that has guided me is to think about the next year coming up in their life. What I mean is, if they are 14 and 15 is permit and driving and 16 is driving alone- then can I give them some taste of freedom sooner rather than wait, so that they can learn out to deal with problems, hopefully smaller ones now, then wait until they are 16 and not sheltered anymore? When my 14 year old son wanted to go sledding a few miles from home with some friends, with me dropping him off and picking him up, I thought it was a good idea. The friend’s mom did not. She didn’t want her children that far from hom. When I told that same son, when he was 15 that it was O.K. to shoot the BB gun in the yard, with rules, his friend’s mom said no. When my another son wanted to take a 100 mile bike trip on a trail with a cell phone and friends and a plan, I was the only parent that thought that would be cool. A coming of age trip, so to speak. I figure our kids are going to get hurt, make bad decisions, and need help. What better time for them to learn than when they are under our roof and we are their primary influence? This time goes fast. One of mine is gone to college , as you know Carla, and one is only a few years behind. We can’t keep them safe, but we can teach them to make decisions based on truth and love and wisdom. That’s my goal. None of it is easy.


  5. I worry that I’m not protective enough because I’m surrounded by people who scrutinize everything (almost) more than we do. How’s that for having the opposite concern???


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