Type-A Parenting: I’m (Not) in Control

I recently took a personality quiz on Buzzfeed: “How Type A Are You, Actually?”

I knew the answer before the score was even calculated.

Type A personality test results

High strung, always stressed, and always on time. Irked by things that slow me down. A perfectionist. An overachiever. Always with a goal and a plan. Always wanting to be in control.

I’ve been this way since 1986. No joke.

I’m the kid in the middle in the photo below. If it hadn’t been for my guidance, my friends would never have figured out how to jump from that bench (at least, that’s what I tell myself).

Me (in the center) and my friends in about 1986

I’m afraid my need for things to be done just right will one day push Baby Bird away. She’ll feel pressured to always be the best, and that’s not the life I want for her.

Something’s gotta give.

Changing my personality would be difficult (Are personalities a nature or nurture thing?), so I’m going to work on changing my behaviors.

I know it won’t happen overnight, but it has to happen. For my daughter’s sake, I have to transform from a Type-A mom to a Type-Awesome one.

(And here’s where my need to have a plan rears its head again …)

Helicopter parenting

I don’t think there’s any getting around this. My mom was is a helicopter parent. I already know I will be, too. But if I don’t give Baby Bird some room to breathe, she’ll never learn to be self-sufficient. I have to accept that I can’t control everything she does.

Being a worrywart

Worrying is par for the parenting course, but I could easily take this to the extreme. Not letting her learn to drive because of a fear of other drivers. Not letting her play certain sports because of a fear of injury. Moving to the city where she goes to college and buying a house a block from campus. At some point, I’ll have to trust that she can handle herself, and that I’ve taught her how to stay as safe as possible.

Demanding perfection

I took advanced classes from elementary school on, and I was the person who believed second place was the first loser. (I recognize how horrible that sounds and I was almost too ashamed to type it.) That obsession with perfection could kill my relationship with my daughter, and it could destroy her self-confidence and her interest in learning.  I can’t let that happen. I’ll push her to do her best, but if she does her best and receives a “C,” we’ll celebrate that “C.”

Sweating the minor messes

It looks like a toy bomb exploded in every room of my house, and the messiness messes with my mind every day. I know kids need to be allowed to make messes — it’s how they develop physical, cognitive, verbal, and emotional skills — and I’m working on not immediately picking up every toy she puts down. If I don’t stop, I’ll go nuts and Baby Bird will never learn to clean up after herself. When she’s old enough, I’ll use Barney’s cleanup song to teach her to do her part.

For now, I’ll have to deal with the disorder.

Asking for help

When Baby Bird was born, I refused to let anyone else care for her. It wasn’t just about trust — fear and control played parts, too. I really believed I could control anything that could happen to her — cold, fever, stomach bug — if I just kept her with me. It’s illogical, but it’s what I thought for months. Finally, as I said in this post, my MIL made me give her Baby Bird for a day. That time helped chip away at the delusion that I could do everything on my own, and I’ve become much better about asking the grandparents to take over for a few hours here and there.

Are you a Type-A parent? Do you think it has impacted the way you interact with your child?

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Type-A Parenting: Changes to Make So You Don't Push Your Kids Away
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