Four easy steps to stop over-parenting

January 6, 2010 4:58:45 PM PST
Overly protective. Overly concerned. Overly worried. Characteristics of your every day American mom. But this could actually be hurting your children. Four easy steps to stop over-parenting. TIPS TO AVOID OVER-PARENTING
  1. Develop your child's capabilities and sense of personal significance.
    Kids have an innate need to feel important and make a contribution, and parents need to develop important roles for kids within the family. This is something that used to come naturally in family farms or businesses, but we have to consciously build it into modern life.

    Personal significance and responsibility comes from doing chores and group activities like cooking. It takes time to train kids and develop their skills, but it is well worth it. Preschoolers can help wash windows or counters with a spray bottle of water and rag, 8 to 10 year olds can help cook meals and learn to do laundry.

    Think about the skills young adults will need once they leave home and start working on them now. Even beyond the actual skills, the sense of participation, responsibility and independence are crucial values to develop.

    Along with this comes letting kids experience the consequences of their actions and not bailing them out all the time. If they forget their homework or lunch, they should work out their next steps rather than calling Mom and Dad to drive the missing items to school.

  2. Don't let your own fear and ego hold back your child's development.
    It is important to let children have their own experiences, including both success and failure. A child's "failure" can be an important growth experience, and does not mean that you are a failure as a parent.

    Letting them try new things and occasionally failing is a good thing. Isn't it better that children learn to cope with these experiences when they are still living within our families? College counselors report that first-year college students are having a hard time because they are either too coddled or too brittle to face their newly independent lives.

    Courageous Parenting contributor Maya Frost learned how difficult and valuable these experiences are when her family moved to Mexico when her youngest daughter was a freshman in high school. It was a very trying year for her daughter Talya as she struggled to fit into a new culture, but one that paid off in incredible growth that has served Talya well, as she moved through high school, and then college in both the United States and Argentina.

  3. Become familiar with your own parenting style (your "Mom Mode") and be aware of the tendencies that come along with each style.
    Jamie Woolf has developed a "Mom Mode" quiz that helps parents make the most of their own parenting style and prevents the style from running amok during times of stress and worry.

    "Achiever" parents set the bar high but can become to caught up in their child's accomplishments. Their challenge is to listen without judgment. "Liberator" parents foster individuality. They strive to foster independent thinking.

    But, they can sometimes fail to show empathy for a kid's need to belong. Their challenge is to be supportive even as they let their children explore their uniqueness. And "Connectors" sense of parenting satisfaction comes from emotional connection with their child.

    They may rush in to protect their child or get overly involved with their child's emotional life. Too much prying will cause communication to shut down, causing the result the Connector most fears. Connectors need to let children develop their own lives and be responsible for their own emotions.

  4. As much as we might wish otherwise, there is no way to make the world 100 percent safe.
    But we can teach our kids the skill they need to navigate their world with safety and confidence. Part of being a parent is making peace with uncertainty and realizing we cannot control everything. But, it is vitally important that we teach our children the skills they need to navigate the world with safety and confidence.

    Keep in mind that gaining life experience is part of what will make our children safer when they grow up and leave the nest. They will be more competent and less naive if they have had practice learning safety skills and applying them to the real world. This does not have to be scary.

    Simple things like letting children state their own preferences in everyday situations: ordering or buying their own ice cream, speaking up to ask and answer questions at the doctor's office, and learning how to answer the family telephone and take messages. These small steps toward independence can be combined with training on boundary-setting skills, and learning to ask for help when they need it.

    Courageous Parenting covers both Kidpower personal safety skills for the real world, as well as a chapter about "How to Say 'Yes' to Your Child's Online Activities" by internet safety expert Linda Criddle.

As the Editor-in-Chief, Amy Tiemann has recruited the 14 experts who are collaborating on this guidebook to a parenting revolution, each contributing a chapter focused on their area of expertise. This new anthology will be released in March 2010, and will provide not only inspiration, but also concrete skill and strategies to help parents raise more independent, competent kids.

Courageous Parenting is "parenting in the big picture." Young adults will not magically wake up on their 18th birthdays ready to navigate the world independently. Parents need to take a step back and look at their long-term goals, and lay out a path that will get their family there, step by step. This can start at any age!

Courageous Parenting helps parents develop skills to handle the issues that matter most, while turning down the dial on free-floating fear and anxiety. The book covers twelve chapters on a range of topics, including contributions by Mom-in-Chief author Jamie Woolf about "I Worry I Worry Too Much But How Can I Stop?" as well as "The Courage to Let our Kids Solve Their Own Problems" by Maya Frost, and "Kidpower: Skills for Safety, Skills for Independence" by Kidpower founder Irene van der Zande.

With Courageous Parenting, Amy Tiemann's goal is to fill in the knowledge gaps that may be holding parents back as they set a course that fosters their children's ongoing development. If we expect parents to change and grow, we need to provide them support, and that is what Courageous Parenting is all about.


Amy Tiemann has emerged as a major voice for Gen X and Y mothers as a result of her work as the author of the award-winning book Mojo Mom: Nurturing Your Self While Raising a Family and creator of She has been interviewed for The Today Show, The CBS Early Show, and The Wall Street Journal, and covered by The Boston Globe, The Denver Post, Parents, Pregnancy, Glamour, Women's Day, and more.

She has written bylined commentaries for The Huffington Post, CNET, Literary Mama, and Women's E-News, among others. In addition to her extensive blogging on, her podcasts have been downloaded over 74,000 times.

As "Mojo Mom," Amy Tiemann responded to the emerging trend that Gen X mothers needed help discovering and reclaiming their personal identities. An early adopter of blogging, she has been writing about these issues and providing solutions for mothers since 2003.

Now in 2010, she is following a new development in families, sensing that parent are feeling constrained by over-involved, "helicopter parenting" and are ready to make changes to help their children develop a greater sense of independence and autonomy.

For more on Amy Tiemann, check out


Jamie Woolf is a regular contributor to Working Mother magazine and founder of The Parent Leader and Pinehurst Consulting, an organization development consulting firm.

In her book, Mom-in-Chief: How Wisdom from the Workplace Can Save Your Family from Chaos, Woolf addresses real-life quandaries and covers everything that career-oriented women need to know to unleash their parenting potential and navigate challenges with skill and grace.

She blogs on , where viewers can also take the free "Mom Mode" quiz. Jamie also serves on the Advisory Board of Working Mother Media.

Jamie Woolf holds an M.S. in industrial/organizational psychology from San Francisco State University and a B.A. in psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and two daughters.