Understanding a healthy balance in parenting is vital when trying to raise emotionally stable children who will grow into developmentally mature adults. Any polar extreme can lead to a series of manifestations and displays of immaturity and lack of emotional regulation.
Peter Pan Syndrome, not listed in the DSM, is a result of helicopter parenting, or when a parent over monitors their child. Often times, parents do so in order to feel engaged or involved in the child’s life either to ensure proper decision making or to make up for an absent parent in their own life. On the other hand, a parent may be very permissive or not involved at all and may expect their child to already have the emotional maturity of a stable adult. Often times, this results in the parent treating the child as their partner rather than someone in need of a certain level of guidance.
This is described as emotional incest.
As a result, children can develop a set of characteristics representative of Little Prince/Princess Syndrome.
Peter Pan Syndrome, taking it’s name from the childhood legend who never wanted to grow up, manifests itself in adults who still need to be micromanaged, exhibit emotional irregularities and behave selfishly. These characteristics are common in toddlers and younger children but typically disappear around teenagehood/after puberty. Little Prince/Princess places emphasis on selfishness. Throughout the entirety of their lives, individuals with this type of personality grow from tyrant tykes, to narcissistic teens to generally immature and entitled adults.
Does this remind you of anyone you know?
Examples of this kind of this kind of behavior include;
- Acts as if their partner should serve them and expects to be pampered on demand
- Throws temper tantrums
- Surrounds themselves with people much younger or dresses inappropriately for their age, for example; an adult woman whose only friends are signigicantly younger adults or teenager who party excessively
- Has difficulty maintaining extended romantic relationships due to extremely high expectations or lack of communication. Fear of commitment is also common as well as a tendency to behave passive aggressively
- Unhealthy relationship with parents, for example; they may still rely on their parents to pay bills or fix their problems
- They may also consider their parents their only associates or friends rather than parental or authoritative figures
- Financial irresponsibility; spending too much money on unnecessary and materialistic purchases
- Issues accepting responsibility
- Does not self-motivate or act on their own will
Understanding a healthy parenting style may help prevent these kinds of behaviors from developing. Studies on child development have proven an authoritative parent is best. This is a parent who is present in their child’s life but also allows room for the development of independence. Discipline is not excessive and fits the act. Both parent and child have open lines of communication with acceptance and proper encouragement as key instruments for the child’s success. The parent also allows the child to learn from their mistakes instead of protecting them from making them.
So, with this all said, what are your thoughts? Do you feel that people are really shaped by their parents’ parenting style?