Does anyone ever feel like or worry that they overparent? I heard this term when I went to an autism seminar. It was about a study in which parent's were surveyed about parenting a child with autism. One of the themes that arose was that many of the parents feel a sense of over parenting. Basically, you are super focused on your child - much more than other parents'. You are constantly researching and doing therapy etc. etc. to do the best by your child. I could totally relate to this and often find that my friends with typically developing children (and relatives) don't always show support or understand my obsession with every detail of my son's life and development. The vibe I sometimes feel (and maybe it's just me being sensitive) is "get a life" besides your child. I agree that this is important, but i refuse to stop over parenting. This is my plea to the other parent's on this forum to never feel guilty or question yourself if you feel you are in this category. I know you are not alone!
Having your children be your life used to be the standard for the "house wife." Today even the "stay at home mom" is not expected to let her children "consume" her as in generations past. We let others (soccer practice, piano lessons, video games, etc.) raise and teach our children.
Enter the special needs child, whose needs may not be met by existing programs for other children. If you want your child to learn to kick a ball, dropping him off at soccer practice may not be an option for a variety of reasons.
As a child, when asked what I wanted to be, I said "a house wife," and the teacher assigning the topic would encourage me to pick something else. I could not think of anything that I wanted to do more.
Enter my special needs children. My life had not fully prepared me with everything I needed to know for these two little girls, and so I am currently working on my Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling--the branch of counseling that makes sure that people with disabilities get the services they need. I graduate in May, and I still don't feel that I know enough. Am I over parenting? Perhaps. I am simply doing what I feel is necessary for my children to live their fullest lives possible, and I could not live with myself if I did not do so. My children are my life.
Last edited by aligreat; 03-11-2009 at 01:58 PM.
I'm going to say that I don't believe that "over parenting" is wrong. I have thought alot about this as a mother of a needy seven year old and as a teacher who has worked with mothers (and fathers, yes, but mostly mothers ) for over 16 years.
I say "needy" seven year old because my son is considered "typical", but he's not. He has issues and concerns that I worry about. He's not one I could send out on the soccer field and trust that another adult would nurture him/be fair to him without me there. I do feel like I need to over see many things. I am his advocate. I have to help other people understand who he is, what he needs, and what he doesn't need. He is not recognized as a special needs child (though his diagnosis might be recognized in the next printing of the DSM in 2012), and perhaps if he were, I might not be so concerned with many things at school (for instance), where he does not have rights protected under a law. He is also too young to advocate for himself, though he's extremely bright.
I feel like I could go on, but let me make my point.... I am guilty of the "over parenting", too, if there is such a thing. I "protect" him from even my family's judging eyes. I micro-manage alot, and tend to the minute details of his life that I'm sure I won't with my other two. Many things that a truly typical kid could do/deal with, my son cannot (as simple as what he has for lunch, or if a drop of water gets on his pants, or if someone bumps him in line...).
Now, as a teacher... I appreciate the very involved parent. I love when a parent reviews the homework with her son, reads my notes, and writes me back. Imagine, sending home a permission slip for something and having it returned the next day! I love it. I love when a parent brings me his/her concerns. I listen. I know they are truly valid concerns of theirs. I appreciate the parent who takes the time to appreciate what a unique environment school is, and tries to understand my day with their child as I try to understand his more comfortable world at home.
(again... I could go on... I won't!).
Advocate for your child. Don't worry about labels like over parenting. Do what is right for your child, and go about it the right way.
mother to three CODAs:
Henry, 9, Successfully dealing with SPD & ADHD
and Aidan, 2 1/2
guilt for over parenting
I am excited about the discussion that this has started. In discussing "over parenting", I was not intending to make it seem like a bad thing, although I guess the choice of words give it a negative conotation. I brought it up more for the sake of discussion and finding out if this "theme" found from this study, was common among parent's with a broad range of special needs children. I think that when we are faced with challenges in life that we need to overcome, one of the most important things to do for ourselves and each other is decide 1st) I'm normal and 2nd) I'm not alone. It's nice to hear other parent's feel that they fit under this umbrella, like I do.
In terms of feeling "guilty" about over parenting, I no longer have that guilt and have worked through it. I think society is set up in such a way, that for a while, some of us feel uncertain and apologetic about "over compensating" or doing too much.
What peaked my interest with this topic, is that my personal experience started off with becoming very close friends with another mother when our boys were babies. At this time, I had no idea that our son had any prospect of having developmental delays. I vividly remember us talking about our ideals as parent's as friend's often do and we both very adamantly stated that we were going to be laid back parent's and let life take it's course and not be constantly focusing every waking moment on our child. "Our parent's were laid back, and we turned out fine" Fast forward to now, and I am in there like a dirty shirt advocating for my son and doing everything I can so that he can have the best future possible. I guess what happens is that you realize how much other people take for granted when their child naturally figures out how to blow bubbles or say "kitty" or walk more than a few steps and in order for our children to do it, we spend 10 times the amount of time and work to get the same results. I also realized that in my past life, I took the same things for granted and I had to re-invent myself. I am not the same person I was before and I have different attitudes, beliefs and perspectives. Basically, I'm eating crow. All the while, my friends and family are much the same as they were before and you don't always fit in to the picture the way you used to. Some truly understand, but for many it's just not possible. It's beyond their grasp because they haven't experienced it. Even when other's are genuinely trying to understand, the ideals and attitudes often come out in some way shape or form. Sometimes it makes me wish that other parent's did have to go through the same things just to know what it's like. Mostly though, I just have learned to develop a thick skin and let stuff like that roll off my back. I also try to educate where possible. And, honestly, this is probably more my issue than the people I'm feeling judged by. I feel like I have to justify myself to people - it's part of my personality. But, when I give myself time, I learn to accept myself and my actions and stop feeling that way (AND USE POSITIVE PHRASES IN MY LIFE). It's been an insightful journey...
Ultimately, as you said, we need to advocate for our children, however that needs to look.
I'm not even sure 100% if the study used the exact words "over parenting", but it seems to feel like a negative word choice for something that is very positive. A better word choice is out there. Instead of "I feel like I'm over parenting" we could say "I feel like I'm ____________" (fill in the blank).
You're right. It does come across as a negative connotation, but it shouldn't. Parents need to be there to advocate for their kids no matter what the situation.
I could go on and on about under parenting, too... Every year, I see about 4-5 families in my small school that under parent so much it makes me cry all the way home in the privacy of my car (when the hw is not done, home practice is not done, kids are dirty, hungry, tired... teeth are brown, jagged, and falling out from bottle rot and years of neglect, when I suspect that a child needs glasses and never gets them). I can't tell you the number of kids that I wanted to take home and adopt/raise/love/take care of, and not just from 8-2:45.
After reading our posts again, and so many others that we talk about on this forum, it makes me think of another negative connotation, and it shouldn't be.
People think that "advocating for their child" means "fighting with the school" for services or equipment or accomodations. I don't see it that way. Believe me, teachers don't get into this line of work for the money, and these days, not even for the respect/authority/prestige that teaching once may have had. (Especially sped teachers, whose jobs have become so much taken over by paperwork and red tape that we mostly complete at home, uncompensated).
Usually, in my experience, it's the school fighting "downtown" (the district heads) for more funding, support, staffing, services and not in any way disagreeing with parents who bring up concerns. I think in general, children with identified needs are very well looked after... and in my school, it's the school with the 100% referral rate (with the occassional referral by a parent, but extremely few and far between). Schools have such good early intervention programs (EIP) and school assistance teams (SAT) that kids get tracked and helped for months and months. Currently, I see two gen ed kids on my caseload that I am seeing on an "intervention basis" (I consider them both "mine" but they are "unidentified", that is, no IEP in place yet).
Anyway, again, I ramble... and my point was just that "advocating for your child" is a positive thing (not to imply a fight with the school).
mother to three CODAs:
Henry, 9, Successfully dealing with SPD & ADHD
and Aidan, 2 1/2
How ironic this post should come up this week. I took my 8 yr old with Down syndrome to the doctor this week because I wanted a referral to someone who could check out his orthodics. He wears "pollywogs" in his shoes to prevent his ankles from caving in due to his low tone. Now that he is getting older, the support of foam doesn't seem enough - I wanted to see if we had other options.
The pediatrician (who, really I have loved because he was so supportive in the past) told me that my child has low tone, will always have low tone and I should just let nature take its course. After picking up my jaw off the floor I said, if I let nature take its course he could be a blob just laying on the table. My anger started rising, but I kept myself under control. Needless to say I am looking for a new PCP. Honestly, that is why we spend time in therapy, etc. Let nature take its course!!!???? I know he thought I was "over parenting" - time for a new doc!
Sometimes I think professionals often feel the need to categorize a set of skills, actions, etc. I don't think what you've described is necessarily 'over parenting' but rather 'being your child's parent'. Every child is different, every parenting style is adapted to the child's needs. What is typical parenting? What is a typical child?
With six kids, I can't say that I parented them all the same. I certainly have always tried to set a good example for my kids, but I haven't raised them all in a cookie-cutter style of parenting. Some children have required less 'direct' involvement in their needs, as they were more independant, but they may have needed me to fine tune my listening skills. Others needed more of a push to get things done. And these are things that have changed for each child as they grow up, going from once needing less of a nudge to just needing to talk, or from one who needed less input from me to asking for my thoughts & advice. All part of the growing up process.
Then came my youngest, William, who has Down syndrome. A whole new learning experience for me, for the rest of the family. Doctors, therapies, research, books, etc. What some may call obsession, I call educating myself to do what's most appropriate for my child.
Susan, were you able to get a referral for someone in orthotics? Preferably with a specialist who has experience in having patients with Down syndrome.
Kei, mom of 6, including 11 yr old William, who has T21/aka Down syndrome
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