Overprotective parents mean well. After all, it's a parent's job to protect children from harm -- but some parents go a little too far. They figure the more hands-on and involved they are in their children's lives, the better, but that's not always true. For example, parents aren't "helping" their child by stealing Easter eggs from a public egg hunt to ensure their child gets his share, as some Colorado Springs parents did in 2012, according to "The Herald Bulletin" Online. Being classified as "overprotective" means a parent is on the extreme end of the spectrum and is likely causing some unintended consequences.
Overprotective parents essentially make children prisoners in their own homes, says pediatrician Ramon Resa, writing for "The Huffington Post." Children can't explore their worlds if parents are constantly hovering over them. The side effect on kids is that they never learn to handle situations on their own. If Mom or Dad is always right there next to them, children invariably look to their parents for answers instead of figuring things out for themselves.
When parents do too much protecting in an effort to make their children's lives stress-free, it often has the opposite effect, says Dr. Resa. Children eventually become depressed and suffer anxiety disorders that he attributes to obsessed parents. There's not much enjoyment in overprotective homes because of the parents' constant drive to make everything perfect for their children. Instead of creating happy and stress-free environments, overprotective parents often accomplish the opposite, actually preventing their children from leading happy lives in the long run.
Adults gain confidence by working hard and mastering whatever it is they seek to accomplish, and children gain it the same way. But if overprotective parents, who hate to see their children struggle, do tasks for them, those children are not given the opportunity to develop their own skills and, as a result, go through life lacking confidence. Overprotective parents are sending the message that their children are not capable of doing an adequate job or that they don't trust their children to make the right decisions.
When parents do everything for their children, they are preventing them from maturing. One of the most important jobs parents have is to prepare their children to be independent and productive adults. But some overprotective parents can't let go -- even after their children have graduated from college and are entering the job market, according to findings reported in a 2007 research brief by the Collegiate Employment Research Institute. Some parents negotiate work contracts on behalf of their children. And the most extreme parents even attend job interviews with their kids, which rarely impresses any potential employer.
- The Herald Bulletin Online: Aggressive Parents Force Egg Hunt Cancellation
- The Huffington Post: Problems with Overprotective Parents, Why Letting Children Play in Dirt is Healthy
- Harvard Business Review: How to Build Confidence
- Dr. Robyn Silverman: (Over)Protective Parents: Helpful or Harmful?
- SteadyHealth.com: Overprotective Parents
- Collegiate Employment Research Institute: Parent Involvement in the College Recruiting Process, To What Extent?
- Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images