Anyone that has ever grown up with a controlling parent can attest to the fact that constant restraint and the steadfast supervision of their upbringings likely did more harm than good. Some rules are necessary, yes, but that doesn't mean that children shouldn't be allowed to practice their independence outside of the realm of their parents' overbearing borders. You probably spend your time looking for signs that you're not turning into a controlling mom, because you're aware of the potential damage and, in turn, don't want to inflict said damage onto your children.
Part of being a good parent is setting proper boundaries and developing mutually beneficial routines for both you and your kids. However, there's a big difference between setting boundaries that create a safe environment for a child and establishing a schedule they can rely on, and dictating every aspect of their lives in accordance with how we think their lives should be lived.
The thing that many controlling parents don't seem to understand is that when a child's autonomy is prohibited, it actually fuels their desires to rebel relentlessly. If you're someone that has been raised by a controlling or toxic parent, you know that the need to break away from that control usually stumps obedience or, at times, even reason. It's likely that you've also taken away a valuable lesson that you apply to your own parental methodology.
You might have lived your own childhood under the uncompromising and watchful eyes of your parents or parent and, in turn, have vastly different plans when it comes to raising your own children. The good news is that you're not alone; many millennial moms are parenting differently because of their own upbringings, and for a lot of them (including you and me) this is a great thing.
Here's 9 signs that you're allowing your kids to live free from a tyrannical reign that is controlling parents.
You Let Them Dress Themselves
Allowing kids to dress themselves often results in attire that is both hilarious and adorable, but it's also a great way of allowing them to practice independence. Controlling parents want their children to maintain a certain appearance. They can't have perfect strangers thinking that their children are being raised by a parents that are incapable of actually parenting, so they often maintain control of their children's threads for the sake of a perceived public opinion.
By allowing your child to dress themselves, you're encouraging their creative spirit and letting them express themselves through their wardrobe. If anyone thinks that having a kid with mismatched socks somehow correlates with you not having your life together, they need to sincerely recalibrate their thinking because your kid looks freaking fabulous.
You Don't Force Them To Try New Foods If They Don't Want To Eat
Attempting to get kids to try new foods is a dreaded act the vast majority of parents either avoid or, at the very least, fear. Kids crave comfort. Sometimes that comfort comes via chicken nuggets or chocolate milk, and asking them to stray from their beloved menu items is actually asking a lot from them.
Trying to force feed a child broccoli probably won't result in them falling head over heels in love with green veggies, instead, will most likely give them anxiety for the rest of their lives, every time they see leafy greens on their plate (okay, maybe not the rest of their lives, but if kids can be dramatic, so can I). If your kid doesn't want to expand their pallet, you're not going to force them to try because you understand that they will try new things on their own timeline, not yours.
You Let Them Decide Who They Will And Will Not Hug Or Kiss
You get two gold stars for this parenting decision. By letting your child decide who they will and will not give or receive affection from, you're not only letting them practice their independence by not forcing them on your great aunt, Birdie, but also teaching them a valuable lesson about consent. You go, Glen Coco!
You Don't Force Them To Participate In An Activity Just Because You Want Them To
James Van Der Beek wasn't just the idol of our prepubescent eyes, he also represented the voice of the unheard ambitions in all of us when he told his dad, "I don't want your life" in Varsity Blues. Yes, I just made a Varsity Blues reference in a parenting piece, but I promise that I've got a point.
Controlling parents have this uncanny ability of pressuring their children into achieving things that they themselves couldn't achieve. They attempt to reinvent their lives through the lives of their children, which is arguably the most selfish, self-centered thing you could possibly do to someone. Not you though, you non-controlling mom you. No, you support your child's ambitions no matter how strange or lofty they may seem.
You Listen To Them
Kids are sometimes dismissed because they're, well, kids. Some parents assume that what their kids have to say isn't important because they lack the life experience required to really know what they're talking about.
Sure, kids are pretty new, but their voices deserve to be heard. It's amazing how much you can learn about what's going on in a child's mind if you just listen to them (I know, crazy concept, right?). Their minds aren't operating quite like ours are just yet (which isn't necessarily a bad thing, as they're also not subjected to social constructs and as many negative experiences, either) but there's still a lot going on inside their heads. By listening to your toddler you're making them feel important and like what they have to say matters (because it definitely does).
You Respect Their Opinions
Kids deserve respect, too. Now that my son is becoming more verbal and communicative, I try to make it a habit of asking him lots of questions throughout the day. I ask him about everything from what shoes he wants to wear, to what he wants to eat for lunch, to why he thinks Donald Trump is still in the presidential race (he's as baffled by it as I am).
By including him, I feel like I'm showing him that I respect him. Same goes for other parents. Deep and meaningful conversations aren't all that typical when talking to a toddler, but by practicing those conversations with our kids, we're letting them know that we value their input. It might not be obvious when they're very young, but when they're older and need to confide in someone they will know that their opinions matter and we are there to listen.
You Don't Reprimand Them For Having Feelings
Temper tantrums are par for a very unpredictable and emotional course that is toddlerhood. Sometimes the most insignificant of events is cause for an emotional outburst. This can be frustrating, yes, but by reprimanding them for their feelings we're essentially telling them that having feelings is not OK, or that their feelings aren't OK.
When you yell at a kid for throwing a fit, you're not only adding fuel to the fire but you're also making them feel ashamed for their emotions. I'm no psychologist, but I'm pretty sure shaming kids for their feelings isn't a good thing.
Being the awesome parent that you are, you understand that no one is capable of controlling every single one of their emotions. With that in mind, you don't belittle your kids for having feelings. You soldier through tantrums and allow your child the time they need to (somewhat) compose themselves.
You Let Them Explore
Certain boundaries are in place for the sake of safety, but others are in place for the sake of a controlling parent's own comfort. Kids are curious and they need to explore. As long as their safety isn't at risk, what's wrong with letting them jump in puddles, or roam through the garden, or make a mess inside your freshly cleaned house?
Sure, it can be nerve-wracking at times, but kids need the freedom to roam. Sometimes that means putting your own need to have a spotless kitchen aside.
You Communicate With Them
Communication is so important for every day life, but it's especially vital for kids. Controlling parents don't typically care to communicate with their kids because their minds are already made up, and they don't believe that they could possibly be wrong. To a controlling parent, communicating with their child is pointless because they feel that their children have nothing more to contribute. Wrong.
Communicating with kids is so important, as it serves as a monumental and vital cornerstone for them to build their own relationships as they grow up. If a child hasn't been taught how to communicate effectively, because their parent disregarded their ability to do so, they might grow up feeling like what they have to say doesn't matter. If you communicate with your kids, about anything really, you're helping to set them up to be sociable. When you communicate with your children you're telling them that they matter, that they're important, and that they can always confide in you. You're also building a strong relationship and learning a lot about them in the process.