Overparenting or a sign of the times? Why we need to educate and be educated

Is our use of parenting books, blogs, parent educators, forums and parenting seminars  an indication we are overparenting or a sign of the times?

I started pondering this question, after receiving a comment that we are helping our kids too much by insisting they sign internet contracts and that we should instead be trying to instil accountability in our children in order for them to make the right choices.

I wholeheartedly agree that we need to give our kids responsibility and build their independence. I have often advocated for kids to do more, for us to allow them to fail and fall, for us to let them take risks and use their own judgement. I have also advocated for parenting with some basic principals based on unconditional love, boundaries and security.

And I will always believe that these are the foundations for my own parenting and for any advice I give to others.

But the world is changing. I would love to say that my kids were born with inbuilt accountability. I would like to say that they instinctively know right from wrong. It would be great if they knew that giving out too much information can be dangerous. I would be happy if they knew from the moment they picked up an electronic device that they were already starting to build their online resume that could be googled by anyone at anytime in many years to come. I would love it if they knew to think about the consequences of the pictures they upload or the status’s they update. I would love it if they already knew “porn” is not something they need to google despite being told by some kid at school that it would be funny. It would be easiser if I didn’t have to warn them that not everyone on the internet is  who they say they are.

But you know what? My kids weren’t born with any of this. It is my role to help them with that. I have nearly 40 years of life experience on their 8 or 10 or 12 years. They may know a lot of stuff about technology and how things work…but they are not as wise as I am. They don’t have the ability to look into the future like I do. They don’t even look forward of the here and now, let alone next week.  They do not realize the power of this online world.

As a parent it is our role to keep ourselves educated about all that our children can potentially be exposed to in the cyberworld. It is also imperative we build strong  connections with our children, in conjunction with boundaries that ensure they respect both themselves and us.

With those things in mind we can better attempt to safely guide them through the good and the bad of the online world. They will not have this knowledge, respect or self regulation without our help. And that is why I will always continue to do all I can to help them become responsible and therefore accountable for their own actions in the online world.

I do want them to be responsible, independent citizens where I don’t have to keep tabs on every single thing they do. But I need to give them the skills and knowledge first. If my kids are not safe, then every other thing I have ever written is worth nothing.  If I need to get them to sign a contract to know that they have thought about things to have a greater chance to keep them safe, then that is what I will do.

Share this post

Like this article? Sign up to our email newsletter and never miss a post.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. kirri

    Your post brings to mind the way a lot of us deal with ‘stranger danger’. We warn our young kids against speaking to people they don’t know, to be cautious, to never go anywhere unattended or feel uncomfortable etc etc. We feel convinced that they are getting the message and understand the potential dangers…and then a ‘strange’ man comes and knocks on the door while you are in the shower and your kids invite him in and practically invite him into their bedroom to play!!

    My point is, sometimes they need the step by step guidance and strategies in place for long term learning to ‘click’. Nice work Martine 🙂

    1. Martine

      Thanks Kirri. And you are right about messages sometimes not being heard. Role playing is another good way to help try and reinforce some of those messages particularly for issues like stranger danger.

  2. BossyMummy

    Great post. It’s about finding the balance isn’t it? I think that the technology available today means we have to adapt and we have to control things more tightly than we normally would. As parents we can provide them with the knowledge and skills to help keep them safe.

    1. Martine

      Thanks and yes…a bit of balance goes a long way! 🙂

  3. Dorothy @ Singular Insanity

    I do think we have a responsibility to give our children the benefit of our wisdom. The older they get, the less likely they are to listen to it, but we do need to have boundaries for them to feel safe in.

    I have to admit that I stay away from parenting advice these days, as it tends to make me feel guilty and inadequate, unless I have a specific issue to deal with.

    1. Martine

      Thanks Dorothy. I think that it is very important to seek out advice when we need it and use that to help our children, but also rely on our own instinct and beliefs for the times when we feel comfortable with a situation. Seeking help should always be for support and not for comparison or to make you feel guilty. And lets face it there are so many ways to teach and help your kids you need to do what sits well with your own values.

  4. katepickle

    I feel that it is our job as parents to give our children the information they need,and to help develop the skills they need to make good decisions. To do that we need to have the information and skills ourselves. I don’t think you can teach accountability and good decision making in a vacuum

    When my kids came home from school with an internet use contract they were in grade one so a lot of it wasn’t relevant to them at the time, but it was an opportunity for us to talk about the internet and how to use it safely and it was an opportunity for me to really think about what I know, what I need to learn, and I feel about internet use and my kids.

    For me it was a valuable tool to help both myself and my kids learn about the internet and set ourselves up with the skills we need to use it safely.

    1. Martine

      Thanks Kate, and great that your school was so proactive so early 🙂

  5. Kevin

    Great post. I agree with your perspective that you’ll do what you need to do to keep them safe. It’s tough as parents (my daughter is still at the keybaord banging stage) because the online world is changing so quickly. Todays Facebook will be tomorrow myspace – the ways our kids will be able to get into trouble are only going to increase over time…

    1. Martine

      Absolutely it is changing almost daily..and hence the need for us to at least to attempt to keep up! 🙂

  6. I agree wholeheartedly Martine. Children are innately curious – they are going to look at stuff. It is too much to expect them not to. You can’t put all your eggs in the accountability basket and hope that they do “what’s right”. They will do what is inherently childish or teenage – push boundaries, investigate, explore. I thought your internet contract was useful, especially for younger years – parents can adjust it according to their own levels of comfort. In teen years, I would write something a little different, and that is also when you do need to assume they are being more autonomous and making their own decisions – that’s when you have to start having the really difficult conversations – like the one I blogged about this week 🙂

    1. Martine

      Thanks Rachel…and you are right, you could definitely rework it for older children and adapt it as you see fit.

    1. Martine

      Thanks Maria 🙂

Comments are closed.