The idea of an overprotective parent is subjective. The way in which some parents protect their children may be perceived as overprotective or not protective at all. Those individuals are judging other parents based off of their life experiences and possibly the way they were parented.
Many people believe that more and more parents fall into the category of being overprotective than ever before. I don’t know whether there is any scientific truth to this belief but for the sake of argument let’s say there are more overprotective parents now than before. I would like to share a few reasons why I think this is happening.
Now more than ever we are consuming information at an unprecedented pace. We watch the news and listen to it on the radio on the way to work and on the way home. We consume news on the internet and even hear of local and national news from friends on
Facebook. There are many times where I am alerted to a major news stories through Facebook and then I read the full news story on the internet. With the innovation of smart phones like the iPhone and Android we can get alerts and read the news from anywhere.
Essentially we can find out about any disaster, killing or negative news story moments after it has happened. As a result we are constantly having negative news stories in front of us. It’s no wonder why parents aren’t raising their children like parents 20 years ago. I for instance could play with friends in the neighbourhood and in the street without worry of being run over. I could ride my bicycle all over town without the worry of being abducted or without my parents worrying about me being abducted. Parents still allow their children to do these things but I believe this trend is in a decline.
What are we Protecting our Children from?
I have found as a parent that I protect my children from many pains that I have endured. This mostly relates to emotional pain. Whether it is heartbreaks, or disappointment, as a father I want to be there to protect my children from that pain. This is a natural feeling that parents feel for their children.
We try to protect our children from dangerous areas or situations. We attempt to protect them from hanging out with specific people, crowds or in locations that would provide a negative atmosphere or influence. We want to be the ones influencing our child rather than those that would provide a negative influence.
When our children are small we hover over them to make sure they don’t fall or get hurt. We follow them around the play set to make sure that some kid doesn’t knock them over or that they don’t attempt to do something that they are not coordinated enough to tackle. This is normal and every parent will do this. As our children get older we still want to protect them. We might not allow our children to play sports because of what could possibly happen by playing those sports. Parents might not let their son play football because the parent didn’t play as a child and they justify their actions by saying that football is too aggressive and brutal. I use football as an example but it could be any sport.
In my personal experience I have some anxiety about my son playing sports because I don’t want him to get hurt. I wrestled in high school and college and I have hopes that my son will want to wrestle as well. At the same time I know the pain I went though as a wrestler and I know how many kids have been hurt in the sport.
The Good Things
Being an overprotective parent shows your child that you care about them and are paying attention to what they are doing. Our children are looking to us (the parents) for guidance, structure, and love. With that structure and love comes safety and keeping our children in safe situations.
Being overprotective parents can teach our children to be cautious in their decisions. Typically when I am protecting my children from something I explain my reasoning behind my decision. I want my children to think out their decisions like I do when I don’t allow them to do something.
The Bad Things
There are several things that can be considered bad about overprotective parenting. One concern about overprotective parenting is that children will lack the experiences needed to mature emotionally. If we don’t allow our children to learn and develop emotionally through social situations then we are not preparing our children for situations that will arise when they get older. When they finally do reach a point in their lives when they should be independent they may be lacking the experiences in their lives that will help them deal with situations in life like disappointment.
If our children were always bailed out of tough situations then they might not ever learn from their mistakes and may continue to depend on their parents to always fix their mistakes when they become adults.
For me as a child playing sports gave me confidence, helped me make friends and helped me to be physically strong and healthy. I participated in football, wrestling and karate. I was strong physically and mentally. I was not picked on and I was like by others. Of course these things only make up a portion of how I developed into the man I am today but it really made a difference in my life. My parents supported my extracurricular activities and I thank them for that. Doing many of those things helped me build the confidence to lead others in situations as a child and teenager.
Many parents (me included) want to keep our children in a bubble and protect them from every possible pain and anguish in this world. Our views on protecting our children are shared by many and some are not. Our children are our children. We are responsible for raising them in a manner that we believe is right. We want our children to be safe and to outlive us as parents.
We as parents know what we want to protect our children from because we have likely been through that emotional or physical pain. We have learned decision making skills from having to making tough choices in situations where there was plenty of peer pressure leading us the wrong way. We have learned about emotion heart break because we went through it. Kids may have been mean to us as children or maybe as a teenager we weren’t part of the popular crowd. No matter what the situation we learned something from those experiences as we grew up.
Until your children reach adulthood you will have a significant amount of influence on their lives and what can influence them. I think we should be overprotective but not to the point where we are stunting their learning experiences that will help shape who they are and who they become. Inevitably you are their parent and you must decide what is in their best interest.