Backseat parenting?

Discuss the March 2016 Eating Bull by Carrie Rubin.

(Note, Carrie Rubin's previous book The Seneca Scourge was book of the month in December 2012. :) )
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Re: Backseat parenting?

Post by Skoraeus »

Backseat parenting might not be negative all the time. The parents merely cared for their own children, as of all parents would. Maybe a bit overprotective, but their intentions were good. However, based on my personal experience, I assume it would be better for backseat parenting to take place where major events of crisis takes place for their loved ones.
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Post by KateNox »

TeaAndSpooks wrote:I think it depends on the parents. If there is any kind of verbal, sexual or physical abuse of the child, then I do think that things need to be said, people need to be called, etc. The child needs to be in a good, healthy, loving environment. Some people are just not cut out to be parents.
I completely agree with this! These are the situations when you cannot just observe and ignore what is happening. But in other situations, when child is in no real danger (and there are no signs of any kind of abuse), I don't think that it's fair to do backseat parenting.
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Post by alicia_fountain »

Of course, this question is in the grey area. It isn't ~always~ unfair to provide backseat parenting. The term backseat parenting provides a negative connotation, but really, there are some healthy ways to "backseat parent" someone else's child. For example, being asked for an opinion and giving it is a form of acceptable backseat parenting. On the other hand, demanding someone change the way they are raising their child is unacceptable. Also, different factors can come into play like if the child is being harmed physically, mentally, emotionally, etc., there may need to be some sort of intervention that subtle backseat parenting can provide (if the situation does not require the use of the appropriate offices).
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Post by bluemel4 »

CataclysmicKnight wrote:This all depends on how far the backseat parenting goes. If it's suggestions out of earshot of the kids, that's perfectly fair if done respectfully. But NOTHING is worse than arguing and making the parents look inept in front of the child/children. The worst thing anyone can do is make the kids feel like there's a major discrepancy on what they can or can't do, or feeling like "well mommy doesn't want me to eat this candy but daddy says as long as mommy doesn't know, it's okay". Or, worse yet, "mommy and daddy don't want me watching this movie but my uncle/grandma/etc took me anyway!" I've been on both sides of this one, and in hindsight I see the damage I did when doing the backseat parenting myself. I've massively disagreed with another parent's parenting recently, but any sane adult knows the only way to change the situation is to respectfully approach that person privately and explain calmly. If that doesn't work, there's no point in pushing the issue :D
I agree with @CataclysmicKnight that a respectful suggestion is fine. It becomes a problem when the wishes of the parents are disrespected like a grandparent feeding the grandchild candy when the parent asked them not to. Consistency in how messages are delivered to the child make a huge difference. My parents never consulted each other about decisions or rules and as a result I was always confused. Caught between an overprotective mother and a overly generous father, I spent a lot of time trying to figure things out on my own.

I think Sue was the ultimate backseat parent. She needed to stop helping everyone else and look at the mess her own house was in. Her daughter anorexic and her husband one foot out the door. She needed someone to backseat parent her a little.
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Post by TrishaAnn92 »

TeaAndSpooks wrote:I think it depends on the parents. If there is any kind of verbal, sexual or physical abuse of the child, then I do think that things need to be said, people need to be called, etc. The child needs to be in a good, healthy, loving environment. Some people are just not cut out to be parents.

This I agree with. Otherwise I believe people should mind their own business. Everybody parents differently and as long as the child is happy, healthy, and in a stable house, there is no need for backseat parenting.
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Post by SharisseEM »

It's definitely not fair. Yeah, it's good for children to make mistakes and learn from them but if it's obvious a child is going to make a mistake that could seriously hamper their future then it's only right for parents to step in and guide them back to the right path. Parents are supposed to love their child and guide them not to let them fall and pick themselves up for the rest of their lives without once stretching a hand out to help them up every once in a while.
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Post by abithacker »

I definitely think that parenting is something that is really the responsibility the parents. Their decisions and their style of parenting should be respected. I agree with many of the posters that backseat parenting should really only be implemented If the child is obviously in some kind of abusive situation. I think that backseat parenting can be a form of disrespect especially if it's just based on personal preference. There's really no way to parent, so I think it's better to allow the parent to just do the best that they are doing. However, if the parent is showing a lack of interest in parenting, or if the children look like they are neglected or look as if they are an abusive situation I agreed that intervention should be implemented for the safety of those children. But before those changes happen I believe that the situation should be fully investigated. Maybe the parents are honestly doing the best they can and don’t realize it’s not a healthy way to parent. If they do need that help I think it should be approached very delicately and very respectfully, understanding that their right and ability to be a parent is being challenged and even taken away.
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Post by Mune »

I do not agree with backseat parenting. As others have mentioned, there are situations where the child may be in danger, but this does not mean someone should try to parent the child or tell the child's parent how to do their job, instead authorities need to be called in. Others have also mentioned seeing backseat parenting go wrong, and I have seen this go very wrong. Even if someone means well, they will usually cause more harm than good by backseat parenting.

As for removing a child that is overweight from a household, I believe the same issues as with an underweight child. Social services should be able to step in if a child is morbidly overweight with no legitimate health related causes. Just as a parent can get in trouble for starving a child, they should also be in trouble for over feeding a child a poor diet. If a social worker finds that someone is allowing a child to live on a diet that is excessive and causing extreme weight gain, then something needs to be done. This being said, there are extenuating circumstance when it comes to food availability, cost, and culture. Some situations can make the whole subject even more controversial.
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Post by rythmicjea »

I'm going to preface my response with the fact that I am a coach for high schoolers.

I, as a coach, am often in the parent role. When we travel for competitions I have to make sure that they have everything they need, including food. At practice, I'm teaching them life skills other than just for our sport. Everyday is a struggle because, as an adult, I have to reiterate and teach them things that I believe they already should know. Like respect. I'm sure most will say "well they're teenagers". Of course, but I don't remember being disrespectful to my teachers and coaches. Family? Sure. But everyday this season we had to discuss and reinforce the importance of respect.

The night before every competition I had to remind them to "wash their face and brush their teeth." (They wear makeup) that night and in the morning. I had to enforce bedtimes so they would be well rested.

These are only a couple of things. But, yes, backseat parenting is okay. If you have older kids post attention to the things their coach is teaching them. It's more than how to play a sport, I assure you. :)

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Lea

-- 08 Apr 2016, 17:25 --
Mune wrote:As for removing a child that is overweight from a household, I believe the same issues as with an underweight child. Social services should be able to step in if a child is morbidly overweight with no legitimate health related causes. Just as a parent can get in trouble for starving a child, they should also be in trouble for over feeding a child a poor diet. If a social worker finds that someone is allowing a child to live on a diet that is excessive and causing extreme weight gain, then something needs to be done. This being said, there are extenuating circumstance when it comes to food availability, cost, and culture. Some situations can make the whole subject even more controversial.
I cannot disagree with this more. The difference between starving a child and over feeding a child is great. For example, starving a child results in death far faster than overeating. It also solidifies society's standards of judging a person's health based on looks. Social workers do not have medical degrees. They cannot legally or accurately assess a child's health.

Secondly, to make a child focus on their size so early, when there isn't any health issue, develops body dysmorphia far quicker and ensures life long issues. As a tall and muscular child, my grandmother was quoted with saying "suck it in, I'm not taking you up another size". That has stuck with me my entire life. Things she said are things you should never tell a child. I look at photos from when I was a teenager and my grandmother considered me "fat" I was far from it. And when you mix law enforcement in, that is even worse. That is the government saying what you can and cannot do.

Lastly, most children are "obese" because their parents are obese. The issue lies with the parents, not the child. And by removing the child, you are punishing the family for something the parents might not have the resources to change.

Thank you, though, for bringing up the circumstances of purchasing nutritious food. 60 years ago the poor ate healthier because healthier food was cheaper. It's why gout is called "the rich man's disease".
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Post by Brittster »

Shelle wrote:
TeaAndSpooks wrote:I think it depends on the parents. If there is any kind of verbal, sexual or physical abuse of the child, then I do think that things need to be said, people need to be called, etc. The child needs to be in a good, healthy, loving environment. Some people are just not cut out to be parents.
Yep. This.
If a child is in immediate danger or you are witnessing physical harm, then yes. By all means, do what you can to protect the child. But for the most part, believing that most parents are genuinely doing the best they have with the resources available, is usually true.

I feel that both of these comments are on target. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has there own view of how to raise a child based on innumerable factors that made them who they are. It very much depends on circumstances and the people/events involved and in most cases parents are doing the best they can. However, as said above, worse case scenarios have to be dealt with. Sorry parent who does not provide a child's basic human needs adequately, if your upset about people taking your child. The child deserves the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness too.
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Post by CLRogers90 »

I think that backseat parenting is problematic and potentially confusing for a child. I do, however, believe that parents should be open to new ideas and considering other points of view.
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Post by Vermont Reviews »

I agree with the above.
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Post by L_Therese »

Families all work differently, and no parent is perfect. Unless the child is being abused, strangers should generally mind their own business. Close friends, neighbors (on generally friendly terms), extended family, the child's teachers or coaches, spiritual leaders, a daycare or after-school care professional, or the child's doctor might have legitimacy to offer a respectful suggestion to a parent, but the key word is respectful - edifying, not condemning. Additionally, I think such things should be done in private and only once. For example, if a child is becoming obese, a concerned person close to the family might bring up their concern privately to the parent. This gives the parent the opportunity to respond with their thoughts on the matter (a medical condition already discussed with a pediatrician? a new strategy for healthier eating or more exercise? a temporary phase preceding a growth spurt? a cause for concern that they'd like to discuss?).
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Post by Sophi57 »

It's unfair. It comes down to judging people. Nobody has that kind of right. I my mind it's no different that many other forms of trying to impose ones opinion in someone else.
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Post by lmoses »

I do not agree with backseat parenting. Every family is unique, so forcing families to fit a certain mold or idea of a family does not work. A lot of people have opinions about what they think is the best way to raise a child, but it is because of the difference in parenting that creates unique individuals.

I do agree with many forum answers that there are sometimes exceptions to this, when the child is in danger or neglected. I do not think intervening during this time should be considered wrong then because it could mean saving a child's life.
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