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Thursday, March 4, 2010

T3 - "Micromanager" Parenting Style

We're continuing with the "Over-Controlling" parents, and the less severe form of that style that I like to call Micromanagers. (For a glimpse into Power Patrol parents, click here. If you missed taking the quiz to determine what style parent your character is or has, click here.)

The Micromanager isn't quite as dogmatic as the Power Patrol, but they are still over-controlling. The people who fit into this style most likely are going to be your Beavers. (Click here for a detailed description of them.) In short, they are orderly, structured people who make the best Parent-Teacher Association members and church committee chairmen. They are respected by others due to everything they can get done, which makes them push harder to do more. This drive and self-discipline is also expected of their children.

What does a Micromanager believe? They believe that they have to monitor their children constantly to prevent bad behavior. They also believe that children are an extension of themselves, rather than their own entity. This belief can manifest into these parents believing that the child's behavior is a reflection on them as parents. So if a child acts badly, then they think this reflects on them as a poor parent, and vice versa when the child acts good.

A Micromanager listens to their child, but while they do so, they often judge the child's feelings as being right or wrong. Being concerned with opinions of others, they will often try to fit the child's feelings or thoughts into the mold of what they as the parent believe the child should think or feel.

How does a Micromanager discipline? A Micromanager is just that: one who micromanages everything their children do. We're talking about above and beyond the appropriate interest in their children's activities, as as an extension, above and beyond into the child's identity. These parents, being the Beavers they are, take responsibility of supervising their child's activities and then try to improve their child with rewards and incentives. They are proud to have "good" children and are quick to nag, lecture, criticize, and give guilt trips when the child doesn't act the way they want them to. Their ultimate phrase is to tell the child "I'm disappointed in you."

If your hero or heroine had this type of parent growing up, how might she or he end up as an adult? Here are some likely possibilities:

1) Lack of preparedness for the real world.

These children are the ones that never miss a choir rehearsal or forget to turn in homework or arrive late to a doctor's appointment. They are well-mannered and neatly dressed--but only because their parents make sure of it. When it comes time for them to do it on their own, watch out! They aren't ready and often times bellyflop their first semester in college. (These are the kids whose mother shows up at the university to help them fill out papers for their academic advisor and direct them to what classes they will take. You know the type...those who can't let go.)

2) Harbor feelings of resentment.

If your parent has unrealistic expectations of you and makes sure you know how often you miss the mark, don't you think you would, too? These children can be angry, bitter, frustrated, and discouraged. Their internal mantra is "I'm not good enough," or "I never quite measuring up."

3) Big-time people pleasers.

A person can only take disappointing someone so much. And these children use up that quota fast because of their parents. So they take to bending over backwards to please everyone else so they don't have to feel that horrid feeling of not passing muster. They want others to like them so much that they will inhibit their individuality and creativity to fit someone else's mold, which is ironic, since this is ultimately what their parents did to them growing up.

4) Lack self-motivation.

These children have been rewarded with external motivators all their life, whether it was in the form of verbal praise or money or cars for making the grade or what. So when they are put into the work force where the only real motivator is a check they will need every penny of to pay rent, life gets more difficult. They don't want to do a job well done just for the intrinsic satisfaction of having a great work ethic. They want more.

5) Tendency to be rebellious.

Micromanagers have difficulty letting go. Let's face it: a mom who follows her 18-year-old to college has issues. As a result, these teens are resentful of the intrusion (and rightly so), so they spread their wings and rebel just to prove they can't be controlled. The tighter the parent holds on, the greater the rebellion can be.

6) Lean towards being perfectionist...dangerously so.

Like parent, like child. These children can be obsessive over-achievers just like their Beaver parents. After all, they've spent 18 years trying to live up to unrealistic expectations. They will practically kills themselves (and some actually succeed) to try to prove their worth.

Of course, there is always the possibility that a child who grew up with parents like these won't have any of these issues, but I would think that would be a high improbability. They can be well-adjusted, but still carry some residual issues from childhood. Just think about it.

Q4U: Any Micromanager characters out there? If so, what issues did you give them in your novels?

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* A lot of the information in this series will be derived from Jody Johnston Powel's book, The Parent's Toolshop. Quite a bit is also from my own clinical experiences and opinions.*


Jessica Nelson said...

Wow, great breakdown! This makes total sense.

Karen Lange said...

Love this info. So helpful. Thanks! :)

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

thanks, ladies! glad it's helpful. :) it helps that i just did a parenting class for my job....

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Jeannie, I've taken Love and Logic parenting classes, and from experience growing up, this rings oh so true. Thank you for posting this!
I've turned you into a fairy at my blog! I hope you like it... :)

Natalie said...

I think most of my adults tend to rest at the other extreme. Maybe I'll write a micromanaging mommy one of these days!

Mary Aalgaard said...

The micromanager is such a control freak. I actually know several parents in this category. I foresee a nasty rebellion. I think their kids learn to be sneaky so they can have some experiences on their own. This makes great stories.

Anonymous said...

Broaden your statistical studies to more than just the United States and remember there is more than just the majority portion to a statistic, there is also the minority!

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