Those who “over-parent” their offspring are being denounced for producing spoiled children, who cannot cope with the challenges of life. Numerous books criticising the phenomenon lecture mothers and fathers to give more space to their children.
Intensive parenting was previously advocated as the solution to the problems – and associated fears – facing children, but it has recently been portrayed as a threat to the healthy development of young people. In recent times, “over-parenting” – or “helicopter parenting ” – has become the new target of blame.
A recent study, published in Development Psychology, concluded that “children with helicopter parents may be less able to deal with the challenging demands of growing up, especially with navigating the complex school environment”. Some go so far as to associate the mental health crisis afflicting colleges and universities on a “generation of parents riddled with fear“.
Shame on you
Shaming parents for the way they are bringing up their children is nothing new. Parent shaming and blaming has long been a recurring theme in expert narratives on child-rearing. In the 19th century, parents were frequently accused of lacking the moral and intellectual resources necessary to bring up children. They were also frequently castigated for setting a bad example for their children.
Parental incompetence was perceived as particularly debilitating in relation to the management of children’s anxieties and fears. From the late 19th century onwards, experts asserted that parents needed to shield their children from exposure to fear. They claimed that abolishing fear from childhood was essential for the well-being of young people.
Psychologists and parenting experts argued that children could suffer serious damage if they were not insulated from fear. The…
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