Dangers of Over-Protective Parenting
Set the Children Free!
Parents and Their Teens
Parenting is a skill that comes with years and years of learning. No matter how experienced we are, the day comes when we find ourselves in a situation which we are uncertain how to handle. There are many areas in which we fail in our attempts to bring happiness to our children no matter how hard we try and how much we love them.Over-protectiveness is one area which causes conflict between parents and teenagers and if this problem is not acknowledged and dealt with the outcomes may be disastrous.
As parents we need to love our children without stifling them. We need to understand them well enough to know the degree to which we should loosen up as they grow older. We should be discerning enough to know when to hold on and when to let go.
This is not to say that parents should allow themselves to be dictated to by their teens. Certainly, we have to operate within the parameters of good judgement and within the dictates of our conscience. This means that situations will come about when it becomes extremely difficult to arrive at a decision that is mutually agreeable. In such situations it helps when there is an open line of communication between both parties so that each knows where the other is coming from even if they do not agree. Communication should take the form of face to face, calm, levelheaded discussion rather than notes , messages or shouting matches.
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- Parenting involves setting standards and understanding when they need to be adjusted. Indeed, parents need to set standards to which their children must conform. However, it is imperative that rules be adjusted to suit the circumstances. That is to say that certain rules apply at certain ages/levels of maturity and as children demonstrate an increased sense of responsibility and maturity, parents should kick in with a corresponding adjustment of rules. This can certainly be achieved without compromising standards.
- Teenagers do not appreciate parents loving them so much that they won’t cut them loose. It is true that we may love our children so much that we wish they never had to face danger or see the harsher side of life. We want to protect them from all the hardships that we encountered in our own lives; we would shelter them forever if that were possible.
- The truth is that teenagers want to be parented in terms of having their needs met; they want parents to provide a regular allowance, useful gadgets like cell phones, iPods , computers and the keys to the car if there is one. They want us to do their laundry, have breakfast ready when they awake and their lunch bags packed and ready for them. They do not mind our displays of affection when their friends are not present and may even invite our comments on their dressing under given circumstances.
- On no account do teens want to be told that they can’t hang out with their friends, at the places where they wish to, and at the times that their friends are doing the same. Our fears for their welfare only annoy them and cause them to become angry and resentful. They do not think that our decisions and actions come out of our love for them and our desire to protect them. Rather, they believe that we are simply using our power to tie them down. They feel that as teens they are old enough to make decisions regarding their safety and well being.
Consistency is one of the pillars of successful parenting, nonetheless, flexibility can be a major determining factor in the nature of the relationship which exists between parents and their teens. There must always ,therefore, be a reasonable balance between the two.
Son, I Need to Protect You From Yourself!
Some Pitfalls of Over-Protective Parenting
- There are some distinctly negative outcomes associated with over protectiveness. Among these are conflicts, rebelliousness and alienation. Teens may also run away from homes which they consider to be suffocating and prison- like. In extreme situations, lasting rifts may occur between parents and their teens .
- Some teens remain outwardly tractable and contented in over protective home environments. This can produce very disastrous results over time, for the psychological damage caused in children, by failure to react to over protection from parents, may affect them throughout their lives.
- In some cases, built up resentment in teens only comes out when they leave home. For example, when they go away to college, they flip and go completely overboard. Years of discontent and frustration spill out into really negative behaviours such as involvement in drugs, alcohol, sex and anything else which, they believe, will broadcast to the world that they are adult, they are free, they can be part of the crowd. It is as if they feel an overpowering need to catch up on all the fun which they had missed out on.The impact on the unsuspecting parents can be traumatic. Hitherto certain that all was well with their method of parenting and that their teen was mature, responsible and well behaved, they are suddenly rocked out of their ignorance.
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Good Parenting Comes with Time
Good parenting is a learning process; no one is born with all the skills of a good parent. Good parenting comes with years and years of experience. As children grow physically, so too parents grow in knowledge and understanding of what good parenting involves. The hallmark of good parenting is the ability to recognize that while it is the responsibility of parents to guide and nurture their children, they should not lose them through over-protective behaviour.
As human beings we have a way of looking at life in retrospect and we remember occasions when our parents were extremely strict and unrelenting. Very often we recognize that these were the situations which moulded us into the strong persons that we are today. On the other hand, we never forget the bad moments which left scars that we will carry with us to the grave. As parents, we need to leave with our children, memories of their childhood that impacted positively on them and make every effort to avoid providing them with everlasting scars and hearts full of resentment and unforgiveness.
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