Overparenting: Guilty as Charged

I walked upstairs one Saturday to a surprise from my husband: he had converted our son’s crib into a big boy bed.

On a whim.

Alarm bells rang in my head. I had PLANS! I was going to check out armloads of childrens’ books about moving to a big boy bed and read them for weeks leading up to the big move. There were going to be social stories about the correct process to get out of his new bed. Expectations needed to be reviewed! Fears needed to be quelched! This was a major life transition!


Apparently not.

I told my sister the horrific story of how my husband had brazenly made a major life change without even thinking through what needed to be done to prepare. I was ready for a response something along the lines of “Oh, men!” Instead she shocked me into reality when she laughed, “What, you mean like a normal parent?”

We’re out there, us over-parenters. We mean well. We just can’t seem to stop ourselves from taking it about three notches past normal.

Signs you might be Overparenting:

– Your bedtime routine has 16 steps that are ALL critical. In fact, you pretty much have a 16 step plan for meal time, bath time, and leaving him with a sitter.

– You have a chore chart or reward system already planned out, and your child can’t even walk yet.

– Your kid’s social event calendar has more events than yours, and it’s color coded (duh).

– You’ve never left a story time or playgroup event without at least 5 ideas for how they could improve.

overparenting playgroup

– You feel actual pangs of guilt when you look at your child’s plate and realize there are no vegetables. None. Not one. How in the world could you have let this happen? Do you have to return your mom card now?

– You didn’t stop the baby book after a year. Obviously your child (and their spouse) NEED to know that on a random Friday in September he finally jumped with BOTH feet off the ground. (only as I type this am I fully grasping how yawn-worthy it is)

– You find yourself dressing your toddler to match the theme of events, even when you know they will literally be the only kid there wearing a costume.

overparenting dressed for theme

– You use the word “we” far too often. “WE need to go potty before we leave.”, “WE don’t bite the dog”, “WE need a nap, don’t WE?” (ok, maybe on that last one you really did mean the “we”)

– You’ve banished cheesy cartoon characters from your kids’ wardrobe, but you also know you’re supposed to let your toddler make choices. You’ve compromised on underwear and socks so no one sees. Unless shorts are involved, in which case you invoke the “Oh, I just remembered, these Ninja Turtle socks are your special naptime socks!” and cross your fingers that they buy it.

– You have a manual, with sleeve protectors and tabs, for babysitters.

overparenting babysitting binder

– You’ve actually attempted homemade fruit leather. Twice. “It’ll be totally worth it!” you thought. Both times.

– Your playroom is filled with wooden Montessori-inspired toys and organized according to activity type. And you do toy rotations…obviously. (You can find our fine motor skill toys in the third drawer down from the sensory play materials and just above the math concepts.)

overparenting toys

Maybe this is just how Type-A people attack parenting. Maybe we just want to parent “correctly” (ha!) so badly that it seeps out in the oddest of ways.

Maybe the tiny bit of control we get out of our routines and schedules and plans helps to balance the absolute chaos that is most everything else about parenting.

Or (as eyes roll across the internet), maybe she only has one kid.


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