The short answer is yes. Yes, you can be too nosy with your kids.

Take a lesson from the movie Finding Nemo. Marlin may have had some good intentions, but he was so overly involved in Nemo’s life — where he could go, what he could do, making all of his decisions for him — that he ultimately drove his own son away.

All children need to be able to have some level of independence and make their own choices. It is a natural part of human nature to want some control. Unfortunately, it is also part of human nature for parents to be reluctant to give kids more control. But tell yourself: “It’s okay to let go!”

Choices Allow Independence to Flourish

Young children have no filter and are quick to assert their independence. How many times have you heard, “I can do it myself, mommy” or “I don’t need any help, daddy?” Trying too hard to “help” your children may not always be a welcome gesture.

For example, think about young children dressing themselves. The results are often comical and, though they may look cute at home, that outfit is probably not something you want your child walking around in outside.

Instead of butting in when your five-year-old is trying to pick out clothes, have some outfits picked out in advance to let him or her choose from. This way, even if the clothes end up wrinkled and a bit disheveled, at least you know they match. 

Guide, Don’t Decide

If the clothing bit works, you can begin opening up other choices to your child to guide him or her in the direction you want him or her to go. This, for example, is a scenario you’d probably like to avoid: “Do you have any homework? What is it? Are you doing your math first? Why not? You should do your math first. No, not the spelling words. The math. Did you hear me? I said do your math first!” 

When it’s homework time, let your child make choices when it comes to getting it done. Show your child that you trust her enough to be responsible by not hovering or asking dozens of questions. After you take a few minutes to look it over, if your child wants to call her best friend on the phone, don’t hang on every word. Give her space and respect her privacy. She might not be ready to talk to you about the cute boy on the bus yet, and that’s okay! She’ll tell you when she’s ready.

Navigating ‘Teen Angst’

The older children get, the more independence they will want — and need. “Teen angst” may make for some good Hollywood movie fodder, but it is a very real frustration for multitudes of families.

Teenagers are desperately trying to carve out a little place for themselves in life, and often the slightest inquiry — something as simple as “How was school today?” — can feel like an intrusion. The more teens pull back and retreat into themselves or their friends, the more parents tend to overreach to compensate. It doesn’t take long to spiral out of control.

Where teenagers are concerned, it is important to know who their friends are and where they will be going. It’s also important to set boundaries and make clear your expectations about alcohol, drugs, sex and even crime, such as shoplifting or speeding. But sometimes, parents with the best of intentions can go too far.

It is not always necessary to state your opinion about the clothes your child wears, what you think of his friends and what kind of music he listens to. Being overly involved — and nosy — about your child’s choices, as long as they don’t harm themselves or anyone else, can cause some serious friction in your relationship.

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