Sparing our children pain is one of the main tenants of parenting. We teach them to avoid danger. We stand with our hands out, literally and figuratively. This instinct to protect them is a healthy part of any parent/child dynamic. The question is, how far does this extend? Should we as parents try to pave the way for our children to the point that they never have to feel disappointment, doubt or fear?
The answer is a resounding, no.
Our children need to know they can be self-reliant and one of the only ways to grasp that is to overcome difficult situations on their own. While it’s so hard to watch your child struggle, it is even harder to feel that they could not survive without you. This article from the New York Times paints a very clear picture of how some children feel about themselves as a result of over parenting.
This passage in particular is troubling to me as a therapist:
Many students, she realized, had been pressured by their parents and their culture to define success in only a very narrow and specific way: not only do they need to be perfect in every academic, co-curricular and social endeavor, but that success must also appear effortless. Students must achieve, and look happy while they do it.
I encourage you to read this article and think about how much of yourself you see in its words. I welcome your comments and would be interested to start a dialogue around this issue and how to set boundaries to help our children mature into happy, healthy adults.