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What is Parental Over Functioning & How Can it Impact Raising Resilient Teens?

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As specialists in teen therapy, we know raising teenagers in today's world is not for the faint of heart. Teens today have so many pressures that divide their attention. Attending competitive schools, participating in extracurricular activities, navigating the social scene and don't get me started on social media!

As family therapists, we know that parents have the benefit of hindsight. Parents have developed wisdom over the years that could help our teens . . . if they would only listen.

It can be challenging as a parent to step back at times and let our teenagers learn from experience. We may want to jump in and prevent them from experiencing all or much of life's difficulties.

What is Parental Over Functioning?

Over functioning is term used to describe a person that regularly takes on the responsibility of others. Over functioning parents tend to do things for their teenagers they are old enough to do on their own or able to learn.

Often this is unintentional as parents want to ensure their teen succeeds in all things. We just love them and want them to be happy and successful. Over functioning parents or OFP’s differ from traditional parenting roles.

Some parents enjoy making snacks for their teen or folding their laundry, but the motivation for OFP’s is distinct from the norm. Over functioning parents are driven by the fear or anxiety they feel when watching their teen make a mistake.

Below are five behaviors of over-functioning parents:

1. Having Goals For Your Teen They Do Not Have For Themselves

Every parent wants their child to be an all-around all-star. There is nothing wrong with wanting your teen to succeed in life. Yet too much pressure can be overwhelming.

Teens can begin to experience anxiety fueled by the unobtainable goal to be perfect. Take time to ask your teen what their aspirations are. Be mindful how you react to their mistakes.

2. Making Sure Your Teens Get to Bed on Time and Wake Up on Time

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Do you constantly follow up with your teen about being ready for bedtime or school in the morning? Ensuring they leave the house on time, and everything is order before their departure can enable them even though that is not the intent.

Letting them make the mistake of being late allows opportunity for them to organize their time. This is a life skill that can be applied to school and work.

Of course, if you find that your teen is not learning from the natural consequences of being late, more parental involvement may be necessary. It can be a tricky balance between letting your teen learn from their own behavior and over-functioning for them.

3. Overly Focusing on Their Problems or Life Concerns

The teenage years are a time of rapid changes and let’s face it…drama! Friendships change, romantic interests, and maybe sexual orientation. As a parent, it is important to be the calm in the storm.

Focus on being a listening ear vs being overly critical. Try not to be the “if you would have just listened to me” parent. Allow the flexibility to adapt to their ever-changing social environment. This will create opportunity to improve their emotional intelligence.

4. Overly Accommodating Last Minute Changes to Their Schedule/Plans

Do you have teen that seems a bit inconsiderate of the time spent putting together the family outing? Do they cancel at the last minute to hang with friends? Or the steps you took to get off work so they can go to soccer practice but quit a week later?

OFP’s don’t like conflict. Their goal is not only to manage their anxiety, but also tension in their relationships. Yet, being overly accommodating limits the opportunity to teach your teen empathy.

Healthy development of empathy is important for your teen to learn and internalize. As they foster relationships with peers, co-workers, and yes, their romantic relationships, empathy is a key element to healthy relationships.

5. Explaining What They Are Thinking or Feeling When They Are Present

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If you have ever been a room with your teen and finish their sentences because you are worried about what they might say, try giving space for them to talk.

The teenage years are full of emotions. Allowing for them space to talk about what they are feeling and verbalizing can help your teen learn to understand themselves and the complex emotions they may be experiencing.

If your teen experiences rapid and constant changes to their mood or behavior, is self harming, or experiencing suicidal thoughts, it may be time to seek support from a specialist in teen therapy.

As OFP’s drive to be over-responsible for their teen can result in un-intentional conflict. Your teen may begin to become more irritable in their response toward you. This can escalate into bigger struggles in their natural growth into independence.

Individual teen counseling and family therapy can support parents and teens to reach their goals of overcoming emotional, relational, or behavioral obstacles standing in their way of accessing their fullest potential.

Teen Therapy & Family Counseling: Katy Teen & Family Counseling

If your teen is struggling and you find that your family connections are not what they used to be, reaching out to a specialist in teen therapy and family counseling can help. At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we specialize in teen therapy and family counseling.

Teens today experience higher levels of stress and pressures than teens before. Teen anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, depression, ADHD/ADD, continue to be on the rise. This can impact not only the teens relationship with themselves but with those who also love them.

Our Katy, Tx location is easy to get to and is conveniently located just off of 99 and I-10. We are about 4 blocks behind (south) Academy Sports.

If you are ready to take advantage of the summer break and overcome emotional or behavioral obstacles in your way, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:

  1. Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling

  2. Start your journey in realizing your full potential

Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling

At our Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we use therapy and counseling approaches that are supported by research. These approaches have been shown to work in the shortest amount of time.

We also offer the following therapy and counseling services:

Neurofeedback Therapy

Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)

Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

About the Author

Woman in blue denim button up shirt, glasses, smiling. She provides therapy for PTSD in katy, tx and is a depression therapist katy, tx 77494.

Jheri has been providing therapy to teens, young adults, and families since 2009. She enjoys using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) due to it's effectiveness with teens and young adults.

Jheri is also a Supervisor providing mentoring and supervision to up and coming therapists. She has taken ownership to ensure the new therapists are therapists highly trained and qualified to provide therapy to others.

Jheri helps teens and families in the Katy, Tx and Houston area who struggle with: ADHD/ADD, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, trauma, PTSD, and other challenges.

Jheri also has a unique understanding of some of the challenges teens and young adults face who are bi-racial. Identity, acceptance, and embracing a mixed heritage are some of the challenges she helps teens and young adults manage.


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