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Parenting skills ‘should enable rather than protect’

Author Alex Bellamy
Submitted 19-09-2008

A good father is always there to give needed support to his child, but is there such a thing as being too involved?

Vivian Friedman, a child-adolescent psychologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told CNN that her parenting advice for moms and dads suggests that they should not be afraid to let kids learn from their own mistakes.

She explained that practicing good parenting skills means a parent’s presence "should be increasingly in the background" as the child grows.

"If you do for your child for too long, they never learn to do for themselves," Friedman said.

Key to this approach is for parents to distinguish between occasional mistakes and routine behavior.

For example, it makes sense to bring a child’s forgotten homework to school if they leave it at home it on a couple of occasions. More than twice, however, and it may be better to let them suffer the consequences and learn.

The long-term effects of over-attentive parenting may even be seen as children depart for college.

Bruce J. Jones, assistant director of admission at Whitman College, told U.S. News and World Report that he will downgrade an applicant if he suspects a mother or father has had too much input in the process.