There is no one correct way to be a parent. Many parents across many cultures have their own customs and ideals to adhere to when it comes to parenting. If there is one quality, in particular, that is inherent in almost every parent, it is a sense of protecting your child. You do not want them to suffer or feel any harm. That is the sense of duty of every parent from the moment they hold their young in their arms for the first time. However, is there a line that isn't to be crossed in regards to a child's protection? When is it too much?
Despite the understandable innate concern, a potentially bigger concern is what can become of the child if they are sheltered too much. What exactly qualifies as overprotection from a parent? Here are some things to avoid.
In a study published by the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 190 children were examined for anxiety symptoms. The study concluded that "maternal overprotective parenting was significantly higher in children with behavioral disorders." The innate desire to shelter children from the less desirable parts of childhood will make it difficult for those children to learn how to respond to those scenarios because they will never experience them. Feeling that the best way to confront difficulties is to avoid them can have adverse effects you may not expect.
Responsibility is a characteristic that can make or break a person in their lifetimes, and this fundamental concept is something that has to be taught from childhood. Unfortunately, children that have overprotective parents are prevented from doing basic household chores such as cleaning their room. In standard situations, if children aren't faced with the prospect of having to be responsible for their own actions, it will cause them to fail in situations when it is necessary, like college.
Anxiety, depression and academic difficulties will be common in college students because of how much influence their parents held in their lives in the past. The last thing a college student should lack is priority and responsibility.
This is something that can be especially damaging to children once they become young adults. Children who are micromanaged are often prevented from indulging in unsupervised events or in situations where the parent cannot be there physically to watch their every move and come to their aid (or discipline) at a moment's notice. When these children grow up, it can prevent them from being proactive and learning how to respond to situations accordingly without supervision.
A tough pill for many to swallow is failure. No one likes to fail at achieving a certain task or goal. Unfortunately, many parents fall into the trap of preventing their child from experiencing such failure. If children do not learn what it is like to not always successfully do something, they will never learn from their mistakes.
One potential alternative to avoiding all of these pitfalls is installing a home security system. Utilizing this can allow you to still have surveillance over your child around the clock without the overbearing physical presence. Not only does the child learn some form of autonomy, but they still have the solace of knowing you will know about something that goes wrong.
Another thing you could do (and should do) is let go. You need to find what is making you be so protective of your child, and begin to work on the issue. One way to work on this is by allowing your child to go stay the night at a friend’s home. Let them go camping with a local Scouting group. Maybe you could drop them off at a city swimming pool and leave them with their friends for the following few hours. Giving your child some time away from you will allow them to feel trusted, improve decision making skills, and understand how great it is having a parent who cares about them so much.
Every parent should want the best for their child, and it is important to be involved in their lives until they can become independent. However, understand that children will not be completely dependent forever. So work with them in order to ensure you can take care of them while trying to encourage to learn new things for themselves.