Overparenting: But Not Me?
When I had kids I swore I would never be “that mom”; the one who went to the teacher or the coach to address injustices against their kid. I had no intention of being a parent who interferes. But I am.
My husband and I taught our daughters to stand up for themselves. When they had a problem with their peers, we let them deal with it. If they had a problem with a test, grade, or assignment, we encouraged them to go to the teacher directly. Occasionally, if they weren’t happy with the results, they could ask us and we would intervene on their behalf. They also used the same strategy with peers.
Complaining Parents Getting Their Way
This worked well until the level playing field became uneven. We started to notice that other parents were getting involved. Kids whose parents complained to the coach were getting an unfair share of court time. Students who didn’t like a grade were given the opportunity to rewrite the paper or do extra credit. And suddenly I was confronted with a dilemma: do I stay true to the parent I wanted to be at the risk of letting my kids down or do I intervene on their behalf to create fairness?
If other kids were getting better grades or more playing time than my girls because their parents interfered, I could be that parent, too. All of a sudden I became this aggressive, ill-mannered and pushy mother who says things like, “My daughter deserves to be in that event, she’s better than Penny!” and, “Wally got extra time to do the assignment. Why can’t my daughter?”
Who is this person and why is she saying these things? And here’s the problem. Yes, Parents interfere. But, I don’t want to be that parent.
Most of the time I try to be gracious and let events play out on their own but every now and then I can’t help it, I need to get in there and get what I can for my girls. It’s not pretty and I’m not proud, but I can’t passively watch my girls take a back seat because another mother is muscling her kids in.
Although I must come to terms with the truth—I do occasionally become the mother I vowed never to be—I at least hope that when I do interfere, I do so with respect and kindness.