Over parenting is not the same as homeschooling. Over parenting the parent smothering the child in too much kindness. An old term for this is ‘’babying’’. This is when the parent refuses to let the child grow up.
Every bump, bruise or brawl is accompanied by an excessive amount of sympathy and concern. Even if their child started the fig)ht, or caused an incident, their child is innocent and everyone else is to blame.
What usually drives this is insecurity and separation anxiety. Mum or dad projects their fears and insecurities onto their child. Out of an unhealthy fear and connection the mum or dad wraps their child in cotton wool.
In some instances, over parenting is about making the parent shine. Everything done for the child is only done for sake of the parent. The world looks on and applauds. Here, vanity metrics matters.
Being seen to be a good parent, always saying “yes” to our children in order to keep them feeling happy, is of high importance. In these cases, maintaining appearances in public or on social media takes priority over the actual nurturing a child’s character.
Over parenting is not the same as homeschooling because over parenting involves doing everything for the child. Ironically, this results in the parent having done next to nothing for the adult their child turns into.
19th Century pastor Charles Spurgeon, using the pseudonym, John Ploughman wrote,
‘Happy is he who is happy in his children, and happy are the children who are happy in their father. All fathers are not wise. Some are like Eli, and spoil their children. Not to cross our children is the way to make a cross of them. Those who never discipline their children, shouldn’t complain when their undisciplined children become a burden to them.’ (2007 pp.80-81) [i]
In addition, Psychologist, Lisa Firestone notes:
‘When we assume our children need more than they do, we are undermining their abilities and hurting their confidence… as parents, we often fail to recognize how capable our children are.’ (2012) [ii]
There’s no disputing that most parents want the best for their kids. For some parents, though, the only way they think this can be achieved is by doing everything for their child. Everything they might never have had done for them. This is admirable, but it ultimately goes from one extreme to another.
The problem is that,
‘doing too much for our kids teaches them to be dependent.’ (Firestone, 2012)
It’s important children be given guidance and a reasonable amount of room for independence as they are growing up because
‘growing up, by its very nature, is a series of weaning experiences for children. From the moment a child is born, they are weaned from the comfort and safety of their mother’s womb. Learning the lessons of how to get their needs met then transitioning to meeting their own needs is not only essential to a person’s survival but to their psychological well-being.’ (Firestone, 2012)
While over parenting can be a real trap for some homeschooling parents, it’s wrong to equate over parenting solely with homeschooling.
The basic goal of homeschooling is raising children up outside the academic industrial complex. There is no conveyor belt conformity. Homeschooled kids do not become clones of the system nor are they forced to conform to any playground social order.
Homeschooling means equipping the child with the shared responsibility for their own education. Ideally, the homeschooled child will not only have acquired academic skills from a holistic and rigorous learning environment, but the child would also have acquired a decent amount of life skills.
For instance, among other things they learn to love learning, how to manage a budget; where to shop on a budget. How to change a car tire, maintain a bike, cook, clean, and craft. Most also learn how to engage people of different ages, recognise and refute the propagandists when they come, think critically, when to show compassion and hopefully, how to live out a loving relationship with God and neighbour. In short, they learn to become independent.
Homeschoolers won’t be entering the adult world with unrealistic expectations about how society works. They won’t have had these expectations drilled into them by the social order set by the trends, likes, dislikes and moods of those who dominate the playground or schoolroom.
Over parenting is not homeschooling because the aim is to
‘help our children get a real feeling for themselves by offering them real love and affection, while equipping them with skills that help them feel competent.’ (Firestone, 2012)
Homeschooling isn’t about training up experts. That’s an untenable goal. Homeschooling is about training the child up in the way they should go. Independent of the academic industrial complex, both mum and dad, provide guidance and enough resources to empower their child to succeed in life. Homeschooling is about doing school together.
This process involves parents working alongside their children, helping them to identify and then develop their childs gifts and talents; and work towards a trade and career. Over parenting dis-empowers, whereas homeschooling channels freedom for empowerment.
It isn’t fair to equate homeschooling with over parenting:
‘The most honest proof of good parenting is seeing our child doing well, showing interest, learning skills, finding contentment, and finding him/herself. What we can offer as parents is love, safety, support, and guidance, a strong security from which our children can confidently venture out and independently experience the world.’ (Firestone, 2012)
For me, the purpose of homeschooling is best summed up by Hannah Arendt:
‘[Homeschooling] Education is the point at which we decide whether we love our children enough not to expel them from our world and leave them to their own devices, not to strike from their hands their chance of undertaking something new – but to prepare them in advance for the task of renewing a common world’
(Hannah Arendt, 1961:193 parenthesis mine) [ii]
This isn’t over parenting. Homeschooling is about funding and facilitating our children’s potential.
It’s another way of selling all that we have and giving it to the poor. (Matthew 19)
[i] Spurgeon, C.H. 2007 The Complete John Ploughman: Combined Edition Christian Focus Publications
[ii] Firestone, Ph.D, L. 2012 The Abuse of Over Parenting Sourced 20th November, 2017 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/compassion-matters/201204/the-abuse-overparenting
[iii] Arendt, H1961 Between Past & Future, Penguin Classics p.193