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  1. stephdking profile image61
    stephdkingposted 12 years ago

    My daughter is 18, son is 7. My daughter accuses me of being overprotective.  I try to ease up, but the thought of them drinking out of a water fountain or touching an unsanitized shopping cart drives me crazy.  My son was born 7 weeks premature, which is when my germ phobia began.  Over the last few years I've eased up, 4 weeks ago my son had brain surgery.  I get so nervous when he plays, but he is a 7 yr old boy.  I'd like to put him in a bubble, but of course thats not realistic.  No, he wasn't sent home with a helmet and he is healing well but he does bump his head at times and it really hurts. Anyone been through anything like this?  Any advice? Or even if you are overprotective, how do you just let go?

    1. IzzyM profile image87
      IzzyMposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      You are not expected to let go. You have been through a traumatic time, and no doubt your anti-germ feeling were re-inforced by your son's surgery.

      But your daughter is right. Your son, at 7, especially if he has been hospitalised a lot throughout his life, will have built up a terrific resistance to germs.
      Most germs are GOOD for us!
      The bad ones, well we hope the good germs will beat the bad germs, but also we have out own immune systems to help.

      Our immune systems are built up by meeting new germs. If you try to keep your son away from germs, he is more likely to succumb to them at some point in his life.
      He needs to face them, live with them, and build immunity against them, and he does that when he is young by touching things that other people have touched, like supermarket trolleys or public water taps.

      Hey kids are tougher than we think!

      1. wilderness profile image95
        wildernessposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Personally, I think Izzy is spot on.  The current American phobia with germs and love of germicides is severely hurting our immune systems. 

        Without open wounds to invite germs I would pretty much ignore it.  That doesn't mean intentionally exposing the boy to chicken pox or something, but the immune system really does need something to work on, to "keep in shape" so to speak.  Without use it deteriorates.

        It sounds like you have done a wonderful job through trying circumstances.  Now finish the task by making your son strong and able to resist disease and infection without putting him in that bubble.

        1. IzzyM profile image87
          IzzyMposted 12 years agoin reply to this


        2. Marisa Wright profile image88
          Marisa Wrightposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          Absolutely right.  There have been a few studies related to how allergies develop.

          One study used pigs, which are (funnily enough) closer than apes to humans when it comes to studying health, apparently.

          If you raise piglets in a sterile environment for their first few months, then put them into a normal environment, the majority will develop allergies.  Scientists theorise this is because their immune system was deprived of any opportunity to educate itself.

          And some scientists believe the massive rise in allergies amongst children is precisely because parents keep their children away from potential allergens in their crucial formative years, so their immune systems stay immature.

          1. Aficionada profile image81
            Aficionadaposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            I have also heard/read that when children are around cats when they are young, they are less likely to develop allergies.

            In my family, we all have allergies (my mother hated cats) - all except for my youngest.  Funnily enough, we had a cat when he was a baby, and we kept it indoors ... until all of the rest of us were suffering too much from the allergies we had.  On our doctor's advice, at that point we let our pet become an outdoor cat.

            But I think that exposure helped my son to develop necessary resistance.

      2. Aficionada profile image81
        Aficionadaposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Here's another true story to support that:

        I worked for a man who literally had been a Bubble Baby.  His allergies were so severe, that when he was an infant they had to take extraordinary precautions to keep him alive.  He was one of a group of little ones who were treated by a specialist in the area.

        The specialist recommended that the families of these children move to a special location, a "concrete city" out in the desert, paved with concrete a mile around to lessen possible exposure to allergens.  My boss's family could not afford it, so they just stayed back here and did the best they could.

        But of the families that did make the move, the children were fine while they were in the concrete city.  But when they returned to this part of the country (to visit relatives, etc.), their systems could not cope with the stress.  Most of those children died young.  My boss - even still fighting allergies, but managing - was in his upper forties when I worked for him several years ago.


        I agree that you want to protect as necessary while your son is healing, but not to the point of germophobia.  At four weeks past the surgery, it's best if you can let him do everything his doctor allows and recommends.  And the suggestion of a support group for yourself is excellent.

  2. TMMason profile image59
    TMMasonposted 12 years ago

    Brain surgery?

    7 Years old?

    You should be as protective as needs be.

    1. IzzyM profile image87
      IzzyMposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Can you clarify what you mean?

      The OP has an obsession bordering on paranoia towards germs. He is not protecting his (or her) son by 'barrier nursing' (preventing the spread of germs).

      Not all germs are bad,in fact most germs are good, but we still need to be exposed to them for them to help us.

      1. TMMason profile image59
        TMMasonposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        I was speaking to being protective in general... not an obsession with germs.

        I agree children need exposure, but brain surgery is not something you want infected, either... so a lil care right now may not be a bad thing, izzy.

        Other than that he is 7 and already had brain surgery? I am thinking he is not healthy, or something?... Some more info on that would be helpful... but without it i would say that there is good reason to be "over-protective" at this point.

        And like I said, till the wound from the brain surgery heals.... infection in the brain would not be a good thing at all right now. But yes exposure when the open wound from that is healed.

  3. paradigmsearch profile image61
    paradigmsearchposted 12 years ago

    Joined: 27 hours ago

    1. MelissaBarrett profile image59
      MelissaBarrettposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I'm not getting a SP vibe para.  Be nice.

      1. paradigmsearch profile image61
        paradigmsearchposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        You are right. I have read the hub. Previous post retracted. neutral

  4. MelissaBarrett profile image59
    MelissaBarrettposted 12 years ago

    I've been there, and in some ways I'm still there.  You need to realize though that your fears are your responsibility to bear, not your children's.  This is horrifically blunt but here it is nonetheless...  If you let your fears interfere with your child's life then over-protection can be just as bad as neglect.  I went to therapy in part to let go of the control issues that invariably come with the "I have to protect them against everything" feelings.  Now I am just slightly neurotic rather than suffocating.  If therapy is out of the question for some reason, the over-protectiveness thing comes up a lot in parents of special needs children support groups.  Maybe you should hook up with one in your area.

    1. Marisa Wright profile image88
      Marisa Wrightposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      This is excellent advice.

      I was a sickly child and my parents were over-protective of me.  The result was that as soon as I turned 18, I moved out - and moved to the other end of the country - to put as much distance between me and my parents as possible, so I could have some freedom.   

      Looking back, I know my parents did it because they loved me, but from my childish perspective, all I could see was that I was being totally suffocated.

      Don't risk alienating your children!

  5. rebekahELLE profile image85
    rebekahELLEposted 12 years ago

    I don't touch a shopping cart before swiping it with the sanitizer wipes at the entrance.
    There are nasty germs lurking on those carts. I don't consider that being overprotective or neurotic.

    As far as wanting to place him in a bubble and protecting him, that sounds reasonably normal for what you've been through, but realistically it's not possible. Have you talked with your child's pediatrician about your fears? Maybe a consultation or phone call can help alleviate some of your concern. A support group as Melissa suggested may be helpful.

    1. IzzyM profile image87
      IzzyMposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      There are sanitizing wipes at the entrance?? Dear God!

      Why would such a thing be provided unless someone was persuaded by a marketing man that it was needed?

      Yes it has been shown time and time again that everything the public touches, whether that be a taxi seat or a public phone, is contaminated with billions of germs.

      Some are harmful, yes.

      Most of us are not harmed, otherwise there would be pandemics of something or other every time we left our homes.

      Our immune systems deal with germs. Germs are part of life. Some germs reproduce in our bodies and act as defence against harmful germs.

      If we are never exposed to them, we cannot build immunity. Without immunity, even touching a door outside our homes could kill us.

      Babies are programmed to build their immune systems. When a baby drops a toy, and gets it back again, that toy is straight in the mouth.

      That is not just learning the curves, shapes, smell of an object, it is part of the development of the immune system.

      We do not allow tiny babies unsterilized bottles/teats but when they are big enough, everything goes in their mouths, and they survive to because healthy adults because of it, not in spite of it.

  6. the pink umbrella profile image77
    the pink umbrellaposted 12 years ago

    i am a certified germaphobe. its the worst when your kids are sick, and that only means you are going to get sick. i let my son touch the carts, but i also douse him with antibacterial gel the minute i get him back in the car. you really cant help but touch things that are in the world, but you can certainly boil yourself afterwords, lol.

  7. stephdking profile image61
    stephdkingposted 12 years ago

    The brain surgery was due to a tumor, he is in good health otherwise.  He was born premature which is when I started worrying about germs and him getting sick.  Now he's 7 otherwise healthy, but since the surgery the fear of germs is back and now with the sickening feeling in my stomach when he runs and plays with kids that he's going to hit his head.  Of course being 7 he has hit his head, and plays rough. 
    Its only been 4 weeks so it should get better but boy its rough now.  I do like the idea of a support group, I've kind of done that online.  The support groups specifically relating to brain tumors are over 100 miles away.  I appreciate everyones opinions.

  8. Lisa HW profile image63
    Lisa HWposted 12 years ago

    The fact that my supermarket offers antiseptic wipes for anyone who wants to use them on the carriage handle tells me you're not alone with concern about germs on shopping cart handles.  I have family members/friends who do the same.  Just my opinion, but I think your daughter (and everyone else) would be wise to wash hands well.

    My own approach to those is to just make sure I wash my hands really well if I've touched one.  I don't like the gel hand sanitizers, so I keep a little container of spray alcohol in my bag instead.  Then again, the world is full of people who don't wash their hands immediately after touching the shopping cart, so - I don't know - everyone thinks differently.  Either way, I do think your eighteen-year-old daughter has to be responsible for her own choice about something like that.  Washing hands well is said to be one of the most effective ways of preventing getting sick.  I think if your daughter wants to drink from a fountain it's up to her.  If you prefer to protect your son by asking him not to "for another while" (until his surgery is farther behind him) that's between you and your son.

    With your son..   My son was born six weeks early, and until he got to be a preschooler I'd just tell people I didn't want anyone with colds showing up at the house. His doctor said he was at higher risk.  He was prone to respiratory infections.  I let up once he got past his first few years.

    With your son having had brain surgery recently, I think people have to understand that you're going to want to be particularly cautious for awhile.  Chances are, once it isn't as "new" as it is now, and some more time has passed; you'll find yourself letting up.  Maybe, too, if you haven't already done so you could talk to your son's doctor(s) about whether or not his immune system may be compromised after having had his particular surgery in the recent past.

    Your daughter is eighteen.  She doesn't know what it's like to be in your situation.  Most kids think they're parents are "over-protective".  Your daughter's brain isn't even fully matured yet (not until she's in her early- to mid- twenties), and that can affect how young people think.  I'm sorry..  I'd have to respectfully tell her that what I did with/for her younger brother was between me and him and not something she was experienced enough with to offer an unsolicited opinion.  On the other hand, I think at eighteen she has a right to expect you not to try to tell her what she should/shouldn't be doing when it comes to things like shopping carts or drinking fountains.

    Anyway..   Just a personal opinion for what's it's worth or not worth.  hmm  (Of course, we lost a twenty-month-old nephew to an bacteria that a lot of people carry in their throats and aren't even sickened by; so who becomes seriously ill from what bacteria can depend on the person (or what kind of exposure he's had to the germ).  (My parents were scared to death when I picked up the tuberculosis "germ" and required medicine and vitamins for it.  It all turned out fine.)  Either way, it's so often a parent's call as to what s/he should/shouldn't try to protect young children from.

    When my kids were little I got a few hints from one person or another who thought I was "over-protective", but one of those people was someone in whose care my daughter split her head open.  In any case, what I found with my own worries about trying to keep each one of them safe was that I just naturally outgrew some of those worries as each child got just a little bit older.  What I wasn't OK with a two-year-old doing I might eventually become OK with a four-year-old doing.  The same with what a five-year-old would do versus what a ten-year-old would/could do.  Although my son gradually outgrew issues associated with his prematurity, I think it was just about when he was six/seven that I kind of started to relax because he'd outgrown some of what had been an issue earlier.  You haven't had the chance to get past his prematurity because now he's had the surgery.  Maybe, too, having been hit in the face with the reality of something like his brain surgery, you're just more anxious about anything happening to either of them.  Maybe it's going to take you awhile to get past such a thing.  I think you, and anyone else, ought to just give you a pass for awhile.  I think you could use people being a little more supportive and understanding for another while.

    Based on your Hub, you didn't listen to anyone who thought you were being an "over-protective" mother before, and your son's life was saved as a result of it.  I'd imagine it's going to take some time (and maybe even some talk with someone familiar with moms with children who have lived through similar things) for you to be able to process some things.  In the meantime, you said in your Hub, "Moral to the story - you are the parent..".  When all is said and done (in spite of others not always understanding exactly what you're going through), parental instinct tends to serve a whole lot of parents really well.  If you're doubting yourself, maybe the best person to talk to would be a professional (if for no reason other than getting some emotional support from someone who understands). 

    My parents went through several scares with my little brother (also a premie), and I had an aunt who went through serious things with surgeries for my cousin (after losing one infant).  Maybe none of these people really got over the scares, but they all seemed to quite naturally learn to manage their own "issues", understand them, and find ways not to let them show to their child.  Whether it was they, or me, I've just always found that the very same strong, sensible, parental instinct that makes us worry about our children is often the very thing that stops us from letting our worries impact their lives too much.  smile  This thing you've been through with your son is pretty new as far as I can tell.  Don't expect too much of yourself too soon when it comes to the worry thing.  hmm

  9. paradigmsearch profile image61
    paradigmsearchposted 12 years ago

    Are we sure this is not a 28 hour research poke?

    1. IzzyM profile image87
      IzzyMposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      It wouldn't surprise me, nothing surprises me anymore. But I am happy to speak out against something which I think really will lead to the end of the world.

      Imagine a scenario where everything has to be sterilized, where humans couldn't live without fear of infection?

      That is what a life continually using bleach will bring. Possibly also this is why we are seeing so many antibiotic-resistant strains of germs emerging.

      The best thing to rid your home of germs, is other germs that eat the germs that invade your home.

  10. Polly C profile image91
    Polly Cposted 12 years ago

    I too am totally surprised to hear of people wiping their hands after touching a shopping cart - never heard of anyone doing this before, the thought wouldn't even enter my head! Even when my children were really small and sitting in the cart I wouldn't have considered it, and anyway as Izzy says germs are essential for a healthy immune system (although I do understand that the OP has been through a hard time and is bound to have worries).

    1. rebekahELLE profile image85
      rebekahELLEposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      The sanitizer wipes at grocery store entrances took place a number of years ago after research confirmed that serious bacterial germs live and thrive on shopping cart handles.
      Nasty stuff like salmonella, e-coli, fecal matter, viruses. The wipes are used to wipe the handles.

      I know about being exposed to germs, etc., being healthy {I've worked with young kids for many years, maybe that's another big reason I use them!}, and I'll use wipes at a grocery store without thinking twice about it. It has nothing to do with marketing.
      The stores supply them at the entrance as a courtesy. I see more people use them than not.

      I think there's a difference between being neurotic and being cautious.

  11. IzzyM profile image87
    IzzyMposted 12 years ago

    There is a strong link as you point out between exposure to allergens when we are young, how well our immune system is built up, and many illnesses.

    Diabetes, for example, which has been on the increase in many countries, especially the US, has been considered to be a problem with the immune system (I can't remember what that problem is called), but basically they are saying is that for one reason or another, our own immune systems go haywire and attack our internal organs. Oh yes I remember now - auto-immune disease.

    So maybe if our immune systems destroy the ability of the islets of langerhnans to produce insulin, the result is diabetes.

    I am sure there is a big list of diseases that all come under the heading auto-immune disease.

    http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency … 000816.htm

    More research needs to be done in this field.


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