can overprotecting be damaging?


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Jennifer - posted on 06/27/2011




Anything in the extreme is harmful. If we over eat... we get fat. If we don't eat enough we starve and get sick. Balance is important in everything. Never so much as in parenting though.

My cousins were raised by my very strict and over-protective Aunt who never let them experience anything. Their music was regulated to only Christian Music. Their activities were always monitored and the kids were safe....until.... they grew up and moved out. Since they were not allowed to make their mistakes as a teen/youth and have supportive parents there to help them put the pieces back together, they went wild when they were finally old enough to leave home. The girl got pregnant as soon as she could and continued to get pregnant over and over again with different fathers and started doing drugs when she moved out. The boy decided to start doing drugs and also had learned to hate himself because he was born gay and there was no room for that reality in the life his parents structured for him. He was "wrong" for just being him and they didn't even know he was gay until he moved out because they had not left room for him to tell them.

On the other hand, if you let your kids do whatever they want, they never have a chance to learn either. There are rules for EVERYONE.... including adults. Excusing a child's behavior because they are just a kid will lead to an adult who doesn't think the rules apply to him/her. This too can lead to a destructive life because the police don't care who he/she is.... they will punish for infractions regardless of who he/she is.

Tara - posted on 06/26/2011




I think it can definitely be damaging in some ways. I've always felt that my role as a parent is to teach my children to become responsible, independent adults - and I can't do that by fussing over every tiny aspect of their lives.

My approach is to hold firm on the things I feel are really important (respect, truthfulness, manners, etc) and to hold onto the truth that, no matter how much I want to I will never be able to protect them from everything that can hurt them - the best I can do is guard them as much as I can and comfort them and teach them when something happens.

For example - this weekend we were in the grocery store and my youngest daughter wanted to walk/run beside the cart - I know that the potential for her to fall and hurt herself is there, but to tell her she cannot walk/run when her sister is allowed to and she is being good and staying next to me doesn't teach her anything - so I let her walk, she gets overexcited and trips over her father's foot because she's so excited - she cut the inside of her lip pretty badly, BUT after she calmed down, she started paying more attention to where things were when she is walking and that is continuing on.

If I were to try to protect her from that type of thing, she would never have learned that it is a good idea to pay attention to where things are when you are walking or running.

Unfortunately for us as parents, we want to protect our children from everything and anything that could hurt them, but by attempting to do so, we can sometimes forget that some of the most important lessons we can learn in our lifetime are from things that happen to us when we are exploring the world.

Jodi - posted on 06/26/2011




Yes it can be. I will copy an paste a recent post I wrote for another community where we were debating the topic of free range parenting:

"First, as parents and caregivers to our children we need to be vigilant when real risks exist, but ease up when our fear gets the better of us. Well-founded worry conveys to children they are loved; senseless, ungrounded worry debilitates children in many ways far worse than the few bumps and bruises they may experience without us.

Second, when children do act out and put themselves at risk, we need to force ourselves to listen to them closely so they can tell us why they have chosen to take more risk and assume more responsibility than we think they can handle.

And third, we need to provide children with safe substitutes for their risk-taking and responsibility seeking behaviours that can provide just as much excitement as they find when they put themselves in harm's way. These substitutes must help kids feel like adults in ways that are meaningful to them."

"The problem is that children are at a loss to find ways to be powerful people. The media has convinced us that the world "out there" is dangerous. We believe we are being quite sensible to pull back and shelter our kids, and we answer each of their requests for more adventure and responsibility with "No" or "Wait until you are older". But with or without us, our children won't wait and they won't accept "No" for an answer."

"Children who push to find their limits (and scare us as adults in the process) may also be those who are the ones most ready for life".

"Too much risk and we endanger the child. Too little risk and we fail to provide a child with healthy opportunities for growth and psychological development."

The above are excerpts from the book "Too Safe For their Own Good" by Michael Ungar.

An EXCELLENT read and lesson in finding the right balance on this issue.

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