Most people have heard of helicopter parenting. The parent constantly hovers over the child's life and directs it. Think of intensive parenting as helicopter parenting on steroids. Instead of hovering, the parent inserts his or her self directly into the child's life. It is child-centered, as well as time and money intensive.
School is just the beginning for the intensely parented kid. After school, there are worthy extra-curricular activities, lessons, and totally intense homework sessions. And don't forget the music practice. It's all very structured and (some say) serious. Here are 10 home truths about intensive parenting. It is, well, very, very intense.
10 Never, Ever Letting Go
Intensive parenting is by definition intense, very hands-on, child-centered, and extremely time intensive. Intensive moms almost always breastfeed their babies. All that effort! It's exhausting for parents and children.
The child experiences very little if any, of life from the front line. Mom and dad are there to make life happen. Intensive parents aim to hang on tight to their child, in every sense of the word. Intensive parents make helicopter parents look laid back and relaxed in comparison. And that's really saying something.
9 Push, Push And More Pushing
Well, is it a bad thing being child-centered and throwing all your time and attention into directing your child's life? In a word, probably. What comes with the intensive parent brief is the expectation that your child must work and achieve 24/7. No rest for the weary. Play? Forget it.
As we will see, intensive parents are basically worriers. They tend to push their child in directions that they, the parents, choose, without regard for the child's wishes. This can lead to frustration and upset on both sides of the child-parent equation. The kid might just decide to plug in and tune out big time.
8 Best Of Everything All The Time
The intensive parent usually believes that throwing money around is the way to go. They want their child in the best private school and studying with the best music or dancing teacher. Oh yeah, don't forget the expensive designer nursery, designer clothes, and the latest Apple gadget.
Only the best will do is their motto. The problem? If the intensive parents are rich celebrities that is one thing. If they are not, it is taken as given that they will almost certainly run up debts to feed their "best of everything" frenzy. And that's not a good thing.
7 Close-Knit Family Unit
Togetherness is one thing. A claustrophobic family unit is another. Intensive parents often insist on monopolizing their children's' time, to the exclusion of grandparents and their children's friends.
Up to a point, this can be nurturing, but taken to extremes, it can mean that the child is cut off from what we might call "real life." A child who doesn't experience the world first-hand does not grow and develop. Sure there are risks out there, but wrapping them up in cotton wool is not the way to go.
6 Forget Unique - Go For Perfection
We all think our kids are great. That goes without saying. But most parents recognize and appreciate their child for what they are more or less. "No way," says the intensive parent. "Forget my child's innate uniqueness. I expect him or her to be Einstein, Mozart and Bill Gates rolled into one."
It's another case of how the intensive parent sets the expectations for their child's achievements based, not on the child's ability, but rather their own expectations, however unrealistic. They often can't see the forest for the trees.
5 It's Just Plain Out Exhausting
Intense can be exhausting, as every intensive mom and dad will tell you. You are putting just about all your time and energy into your child, by definition ignoring your own needs. And, at some point, you just run out of steam.
And when real fatigue sets in, the intensive parent probably tries to soldier on, leading to frayed tempers and frustration. And the kid suffers too. It can get really intense. Let's face it. It's hardly a recipe for happy families.
4 Failure To Launch
You probably will have guessed by now that the intensively parented child probably won't cope very well when left to their own devices, both in childhood and later in adulthood. It is a simple fact that the intense parent makes virtually all the decisions, not the child.
This can, as the child grows into adulthood, lead to a "failure to launch" scenario. And, quite often, the parent doesn't understand what has happened and why. Why won't junior leave home, they ask? What's wrong with him, anyway?
3 Worry, Worry, And More Worry
Intensive parents are worriers. They worry about not being good parents. They worry that their kids won't get into the best schools and be successful. They are afraid their kids will get sick. And on and on.
Intensive parents just want what they think is best for their children, but they are worried they won't be able to make it happen. Their expectations can be unrealistically high. Sadly, it is often an impossible dream. Or is that a nightmare?
2 Very Little Unstructured Time
The intensive parent values achievement, accomplishment, and success. The idea of just hanging out at the burger joint or simply taking a stroll on a beach somewhere probably wouldn't occur to the intensive mom and dad. What would occur to them is a long list of extra-curricular activities, music lessons, and tutoring. It's way beyond mere routine.
Unstructured playtime? Forget it. Go and practice your violin or study for your science test. In fact, I'll come with you and watch your practice and then drill you on the scientific facts you should know. Intense isn't the word.
1 The Verdict?
So what do we think of this intensive parenting thing? It's confusing. On the one hand, the intense parent keeps their child closer than close. They monopolize their time. On the other hand, they expect their kid to achieve at a very high level.
On one level, the intense parent is over-protective. Then they turn around and fill their child's life not with unstructured play and cute Disney movies, but rather with lessons and worthy extra-curricular activities. So, while the jury's still out, we think the word "intense" says it all. Warm and cozy it isn't. But it is very, very busy.