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Towing parents: Psychotherapist warns of the effects of parenting style


Highlights: Psychotherapist Frank Zoumboulis criticizes parenting style of towing parents. Towing parents rush to the spot of their children when they are faced with a challenge. They offer "disproportionate support instead of giving their child space" Children need this space in order to be able to have experiences that allow them to become independent adults, says psychotherapist.. If parents become towing mothers and fathers, they are not doing their children any favors: they are educating them to be independent.

If parents become towing mothers and fathers, they are not doing their children any favors: they are educating them to be independent.

Helicopter parents should be familiar to many people by now. This parenting style is characterized by the fact that mothers and fathers circle around their offspring like helicopters – always on guard that nothing will happen to the child, even if there is no concrete danger. Usually there is fear behind it that something could happen to the child or that it might not survive in the harsh society. However, experts agree that this upbringing is more likely to harm children and undermine their independence. Similarly, this probably applies to so-called tow parents, according to the warning of a psychotherapist.

How do tow truck parents educate their children?

Who, like a tow truck, always rushes to the spot of his children when they are faced with a challenge, harms their emotional development and well-being. © Josef Amos Quesad/IMAGO

Like a tow truck – which is there as soon as you need help – so-called tow parents work in the same way. Because no matter what happens to your child or what challenges he or she faces: towing moms and dads rush to the scene immediately. They clean up the mess for their offspring, pull them out of the mess and, according to Australian psychotherapist Frank Zoumboulis, offer "disproportionate support instead of giving their child space". Children need this space in order to be able to have experiences that allow them to become independent adults. However, in this way, parents negatively affect the emotional development and well-being of young people.

Psychotherapist criticizes parenting style of towing parents

"Helicopter parents are overly interested in their child's life. All parents want the best for their child, but they can become too involved, suffocating, presumptuous, interfering, and overly controlling. I also call them tow truck parents because they wait for an accident to happen and then rush in and clean up the mess," Zoumboulis explains in a parenting blog. In addition, they have a clear opinion and conception about which teacher is the best for their child, for example, or which sport he or she should play. The reason for this parental behavior is an uncertainty that is difficult for parents to bear. As a result, they usually supervise their offspring too intensively and deprive them of the opportunity to do something for themselves. Thus, it is difficult for children to learn to deal with the natural consequences of their actions.

"In the 1940s and 1950s, the approach to parenting was not to crush or spoil a child. John Bowlby was a contemporary British psychiatrist and specialist in child development who viewed attachment as an adjunct to exploration. He said a child needs to feel safe enough and good enough to explore," Zoumboulis said. However, this exploration would be stopped by helicopter and tow truck parents – with fatal consequences for their children, whose self-confidence would be weakened. They also interfere with their protégés' ability to develop resilience and find their own footing. "Children end up not being able to cope with basic things of everyday life, they cannot deal with emotional reactions and are heavily dependent on parents. In my practice, I see a 16-year-old with his parents and the parents complete the child's sentences and answer questions for him," reports the psychotherapist.

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Towing parents want to protect children from failures – but these are essential for their development

Often, towing parents don't want to risk their child participating in something they might fail at. However, the expert warns against protecting children from failure. In order to be successful, they must also have such experiences. "They have to bear the burden of excitement," Zoumboulis explains. However, towing parents would alleviate this burden and thus prevent their children from developing their own experiences of struggle and success, or of struggle and trauma and subsequent recovery.

Instead of helicopter or tow truck parents, young people need "parents present". By this, the psychotherapist understands a parent who knows how to deal with his own fears, so that he does not have a nervous breakdown when his child challenges his authority or asks questions. Such parents are present and listen to their children. In this way, children are encouraged to develop independent thoughts and critical thinking skills. His tip is therefore: "Give your child some time for a problem so that he can try to solve it himself. At the same time, make it clear that you are there for them and allow them to come to you when they need help."

This article contains only general information on the respective health topic and is therefore not intended for self-diagnosis, treatment or medication. It is in no way a substitute for a visit to the doctor. Unfortunately, individual questions about clinical pictures may not be answered by our editors.

Source: merkur

All life articles on 2023-06-09

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