Linda Flanagan: Overparenting and Struggles
Welcome to a journey of self-discovery. I was looking for a twist to an article I had written, a twist I had hoped would be entertaining and would fill my social media accounts with likes. And it was. The reason it was so entertaining and would be picked up by reputable publications was the fact that I had uncovered a systemic breakdown of moderation and due process. It was a major sin of omission with the intention of unintentionally harming the children I witnessed.
I am not afraid to admit that I have short attention spans, I focus on the right things while paying special attention to the things I was not supposed to.
It was no secret to those who knew me that I had an antisocial personality disorder, but I wanted to convince you that it was the other way around. I also wanted to convince you that it was real and not a symptom of what I knew. I was full of rage, judgments, and anger, but more importantly, I was overbearing in an unbound and unkempt manner. As much as I believed that I was entitled to everything I wanted because of the privilege of my profession, there were times when I was not. I was a result of overparenting and many of the traditions of overparenting. I suffered from a degree of both.
For this article, I have been doing a lot of reading to unpack and analyze this destructive overparenting that I personally and friends and family members and colleagues endured. However, none of this research got me any closer to understanding myself or understanding why I was acting as the immature and out of control youth I had become over the past ten years of my life. This research was and is helpful in providing me the tools I need to embrace my youthfulness. I have been searching far and wide for life skills that will allow me to have a greater appreciation for the seasons and seasons of my life. I am a bit of a specialist in the art of creation/decoration and cooking. I cook and decorate for a living. However, I cannot make it to the school board meetings, school celebrations, athletic practices, and the commencement addresses.
Life is too short to put other people before ourselves, but I got caught up in that tunnel vision.
My story has been far from academic and dramatic. I was a Director of Academic Affairs and Dean of Students at Stanford for almost 20 years. Most of the time my duties were administrative, as most people assumed that as a well established academic administrator I would be handling the more administrative parts of administration as opposed to the more academic side. I also took a front-row seat in the debate over cheating with the unfortunate and unfaithful John Elway. I was in the midst of fulfilling my dream of visiting every single country in Europe. I helped lead the charge for better gender integration and inclusiveness on campus and beyond. I was brought up as a Girl Scout, a Girl Scout Ambassador, and a Stanford Club member. I played softball, golf, and basketball. I was active in the Stanford athletics, first as a point guard on the basketball team as a freshman, then as an assistant coach. I was a Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority member, and I have been a member of the Pacific Club Club. What I am most proud of is that I have been able to enrich the lives of young people in my life and out.
Getting to the rest of the article is a journey of self-discovery and the healing of a thirty year lifelong friendship. I am now convinced that my friend Linda O’Donnell who had the honor of serving as Dean of Students of the University of South Carolina should serve as a model for me and others who are in overparenting a child in any age or circumstance.
Five Steps to Rebuild Reputations That You Were Brought Up to Enjoy:
1. Accept that you are your own worst enemy. When you are not your own worst enemy, the inherent bad habits you have come to be caught up in will eventually break the bonds with others, the bonds with yourself, the bonds with others, the bonds with yourself, and the bonds with others.
2. Surrender. Unless you are forced to surrender by a broken relationship with somebody you love, or a restraining order, or you are ousted from an organization or church, if you can turn the corner, walk away. Take the opportunity to focus your energy on one thing, the only thing that you can power through. Don’t let your ten years of overparenting break the bonds with you, break the bonds with others.
3. Draw to close any and all attachments. Most of the things we rely on for emotional support were put on us through our over-parenting. In many cases these attachments will have all grown out of control and your ability to suppress them now is limited.