Why You Shouldn’t Be A Superhero Parent

I have written a lot about teacup parenting, which is the idea that parents treat their children with such delicacy and coddling, kids grow up either chipped or desperately fearful of being ‘out of their proper set,’ chipped or handled too roughly.  I am also seeing another phenomenon, which I like to call superhero parenting.  Here are some characteristics of superhero parents and why we should avoid these when working with kids.

1) Superhero Parents Are Always There When Needed

A recent study came out showing that children today are never left alone.  They are always with some kind of adult and this is severely decreasing their development, creativity and imagination.  It is important for parents to be there for safety, but letting children and teens go off on their own and think on their own is very important.

2) Superhero Parents Take Over In a Crisis

Of course, parents should help their children through difficult times (this varies from spilled milk on a class project to earthquakes).  But, I said ‘help’ not take over.  I see too many parents swoop in and takeover when their child is in a stressful time.  If a school project is ruined last minute, it is important for parent and child to work together on fixing it, getting an extension or coming up with an alternative instead of parents saying ‘go to bed, I’ll finish it somehow.’ This doesn’t allow children to see how they can calmly and logically manage any situation.

3) Superhero Parents Take Away Choice

Could you imagine Superman asking Lois Lane if she wanted to be picked up when she was in a dangerous situation? Of course not, she needed saving! Many parents seem to confuse actual dangerous situations with only moderately stressful ones. In the case of danger, kids should be swooped up. But, I challenge parents to think carefully about making quick decisions for kid and taking them out of a situation that they might be able to learn from (compromising with another parent over a confused schedule, coming to a conclusion with a spouse after an argument etc).

Do you have any examples of how you have been a superhero parent that we can all learn from?

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6 Responses to “Why You Shouldn’t Be A Superhero Parent”

  1. Jennifer
    January 21, 2010 at 2:37 pm #

    This is a great article. When my kids were young I would have been classified as a superhero parent. Thank goodness I found Parenting On Track.com. The information in this program helped me know when to “swoop in” and when to let my kids fail and get back up. Resilience, self- reliance, courage, creativity, accountability, resourcefulness are all traits that help kids maneuver adolescence with confidence and enthusiasm. If you are interested in learning about a program that will help you live/do what is mentioned above- check out http://www.parentingontrack.com/program/details

  2. Margot Magowan
    January 22, 2010 at 8:14 pm #

    I am guilty of some of this stuff. I am trying to leave my kids alone more, but sometimes they fight and mess up the room so much, it feels like its more work. Now that one of them can read, its easier. I’ll practice.

  3. Jen Parker
    January 22, 2010 at 9:17 pm #

    It’s hard not to be a Superhero Parent. Growing up as a latchkey kid , we were left to do things on our own. I guess sometimes I feel as if my children need to know that I’ll always be there for them, but I’m not going to solve all of their problems. They need to learn on their own, too.

  4. Jane
    January 28, 2010 at 8:48 am #

    Parenting is such a learning process. So many parents start out as either a superhero or just the opposite, it’s that balance in the middle that is where it’s at. I have only recently learned that my kids really use the brains I worked so hard to put in there heads if I let them. It doesn’t mean not being there for them, but they are little humans too and need to be able to show that. This is a great reminder. I know one place I had to start is saying to my child “Well, what do YOU think you should do” and he would think about it looking for my approval. I had to have a talk with him that I am always here for him to help and love him but he is a big boy and can make these choices on his own. And of course reassure him that he is very smart and can do it. It was a great start that has led to great steps forward.

  5. msophelia
    January 28, 2010 at 9:07 am #

    and here’s another layer to the issue: when one parent is a superhero, and the other isn’t. frustrating enough on the best of days, even more challenging when it’s a stepfamily. we often ask our kid to take responsibility for things, and find that more often than not, his mother will come up with the solution.


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