Overprotective parents generally want to protect their children from harm, from hurt and pain, from unhappiness, bad experiences and rejection, from hurt feelings, failure and disappointments.
When you hear them explain it like that, it sounds admirable to begin with, but look closer and think about what experiences their children are prevented from having.
It is difficult for these parents to admit the reality of their fears for their children - fears that often include statements like, "Watch out - you'll fall", when at a playground, or "Be careful, you'll have an accident ", while riding their bicycles.
Overprotective parents envision fear in most situations and by putting this fear on their children, they are creating fear filled, anxious, emotionally retarded children.
In recent years, a new name has been coined to describe parents who continually hover over their children, particularly in regards to school.
They are so named because they hover closely around their children, rarely letting them out of their reach.
For growing, knowing children, the embarrassment caused by this helicopter behaviour from their parents can be excruciating.
Journey to Independence
From the minute they are born, children begin the long journey towards independence. So it stands to reason that parents begin the long journey of letting go!
Over protective parents create continuous situations from which their children struggle to escape, until eventually there is no escape as the fears have become part of the pattern for the child's way of thinking.
This type of parenting or smothering rather than mothering, is ineffective and fails to instill virtues and values such as responsibility,courage, self esteem, self respect, confidence in your child.
Instead it gives children the message that they can't be trusted and that they are incapable of normal events that other children handle with ease. What a message to give them!
If you recognise yourself as a fear filled, overprotective parent, hovering like a helicopter over your children, do try to get professional help to identify for yourself where your patterns are based.
My youngest daughter rode over five miles each way on her bicycle to school as a nine year old. She chose to ride with a group of older children, and always confidently enjoyed the experience.
A group of mothers, who drove their children to school, confronted me one day, asking if I felt it was wise for her to ride, given that she crossed some quite busy roads. I felt undermined and began to question, within myself, whether it was, in fact, a sound decision.
Obviously, this translated into fear and anxiety, and was experienced as such by my daughter, because she stopped me in my tracks by declaring, "Mum, I've always loved going to school on my bike, but now I don't feel safe anymore because you've started worrying about it ".
Out of the mouths of babes! Needless to say, I let go my fears and gave her back a sense of trust and responsibility. She continued to ride to school for many accident free years.
Encourage Your Children
Encouraging them to explore, conquer, climb, and master new activities provides the means for tremendous growth and learning both for them and for us as parents.
In order to become responsible, confident, assertive, independent adults, children need opportunities to explore their environment both physically and emotionally without continuous interference from their parents.
We can often feel fearful watching our children playing on play ground equipment, climbing, or learning to swim or skate, but this needn't be translated into fear for them.
Let go and allow your children to fall, make mistakes, experience rejection, feel jealousy and suffer defeat.
Let go and watch them grow in confidence, skill, responsibility and emotional intelligence as they learn from all life has to offer them.
Let go your attachment to be an overprotective parent and find constructive ways to release yourself from your fears before you give them to your children. Get professional help if your fearfulness is acute.