No parent wants to be an overbearing presence in their child’s life. We know that kids need some space to grow. They need to learn from their mistakes. We need to step back to let our kids live their lives for themselves as we guide them toward adulthood. However, we might need to intervene in our child’s life if they make dangerous decisions or head down the wrong path.
Our Parental Influences
We often raise our kids as a reaction to how our parents raised us. Some match their own parenting styles, raising their kids the same way that their parents raised them. Others attempt to do the opposite of their parents, vowing to be better than their parents or not to make the same mistakes. Whether we chose to adopt our parent’s style of raising kids or attempt to change that style, this is often a driving force influencing how we raise our children.
If our parents were not involved in our lives or neglectful, we might want to be there for our kids to prevent them from feeling the absence we felt growing up. Conversely, our parents might have been overly involved in our lives—perhaps even controlling—and we want to back off as much as possible. Our attachment style, or the type of relationship we had with our parents as children, can strongly influence how we approach relationships later in life. Either way, finding balance can be challenging. How much involvement is too much? How little is too little?
Finding Balance as Parents
Finding balance as a parent can feel confusing. We cannot neglect our child’s needs, yet being too involved can prevent kids from developing autonomy. Overly involved parents might be distracting themselves from problems in their own lives. They might become hyper-focused on their kids’ lives when they are unhappy in their lives. Being neglectful or involved too little might be a sign that a parent is absorbed in their own issues that they have little time for family.
Balance will come naturally when we care for ourselves first. If a parent is not dealing with their mental health issues or managing their stress, they might struggle to build a healthy relationship with their child. As Fire Mountain’s Aaron Huey often states during podcasts and coaching calls, only by caring for ourselves can we be at our best to help our kids. When our own care needs are met, we can best support our kids without projecting our unmet needs onto our kids.
When to Step in and When to Step Back
We will not get things right every time, nor can we expect ourselves to be perfect. When intervening in our kids’ lives, we want to err on the side of caution of safety. “Life and limb” scenarios are the places where we need to intervene. When our child’s safety is compromised, these are the times where we can step in to make decisions. Sometimes, we might need to trust our gut if we feel that our kids are engaged in risky behaviors. We might need to investigate by looking in our child’s room for clues or checking their social media accounts for additional clues. As parents, these check-ins due to safety concerns are part of being responsible. When coming from a place of concern while being respectful, we might prevent issues from getting too far out of control.
Stepping back from our kids’ lives can mean that we allow them to learn from their mistakes when their immediate safety is not a concern. While we might not like to see our kids fail or feel hurt from rejection, our kids will learn best from experience, and we cannot always protect them. Parents often overthink issues like this, believing that if they allow their kids to fail, they will begin to spiral downward. These feelings and overthinking are our responsibility to manage on our own.
The Value of Support for Parents
By finding support and talking things out with our parenting partner and other support people, we can start to let go a little bit. We might need some additional advice and guidance to deal with our feelings about seeing our kids make their own mistakes. Letting go is not always easy. When we take care of ourselves first, we can handle these emotions much more easily.
Other times, we notice issues where we do need to intervene. Seeing kids make dangerous decisions or engaging in harmful behaviors can be difficult. We might feel confused about what to do to step in. Reaching out for help during uncertain times like this is paramount to our mental health and our kid’s welfare. By dealing with our own emotions, we can rationally plan for successful interventions in our kids’ lives when needed.
Stepping back to let kids make their own mistakes can be difficult for many parents. We do not want to see our kids struggle or fail. We want to protect them from experiencing pain. However, our interventions might be necessary at some points. When kids are engaged in risky behaviors that put them in danger, we need to step in to prevent them from harm. How do we know when we are too involved in our kid’s life or when we are not involved enough? Balance can be challenging. However, by resourcing and reaching out for support, we can better understand what to do and when to step in. If you are unsure of what to do to prevent your child from continuing dangerous or problematic behaviors, Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center is here to help. Call us today at (303) 443-3343. We’re here to help your family’s fire burn brightest.