Too close for comfort ...
Mother & Baby India|October 2020
Too close for comfort ...
Are you plain protective of your child or do you border on the obsessive? Do you smother him with attention to an extent that can prove unhealthy for him? Do you know how to maintain the balance to let him grow? M&B gives you all the answers...

Nishita Mehta drives her six-year-old daughter to school and back every day as she does not trust the bus drivers. Priyanka Tandon does not permit her five-year-old son to have playdates at her neighbour’s house since they do not have grill-enclosed balconies and she is unsure of whether her child will get adequate supervision.

Karen Mendonca prefers not to take her son to the park as she is always worried that he might fall and hurt himself on the public play equipment.

Anushka Lal has her 10-year-old daughter snacking in the transport between ballet, abacus and lateral thinking classes, as she can’t afford to miss out on what the others are into. Laila Khan does not allow any domestic help to supervise her daughter’s play or be the primary caregiver, as she believes they will provide harsh discipline. Anand Kumar did not allow his daughter to go on a school picnic to a water park, as he was scared she might drown!

Parents are naturally protective of their children, starting right from the time the tiny, fragile baby is born. Parents feel responsible for their children’s success; want to shield them from the ‘big, bad world’ and keep them clear of any possible danger. In their endeavour to look out for their kids, parents don the role of guardian angels. In the real world, however, babies grow up, fall, get hurt, learn from their mistakes, want to experiment and make their own way! Children require their parents to be reliable sounding boards, who will let go gradually. For many parents more often mothers, this is an almost next-to-impossible task.

The phrase ‘too much of a good thing’ works with parenting too. Too much care and concern by the parent can result in the child becoming totally dependent without any motivation to think for himself. This is what overprotection or over parenting is all about. According to Minnie Dastur, psychoanalyst, training analyst and child psychotherapist with over 35 years of experience, “Over-parenting happens when the parent does not let the child be himself; gives the child things before the child even asks for it or realises he wants it. We all know the example of the Poor Little Rich Kid, who is given everything, but yet nothing is enough and he can never feel satisfied or fulfilled.”

An over-protective mother typically loves her child so much that she ends up protecting him to an extent that he is not able to fend for himself. Over-protection is not conducive to the personality development of a child irrespective of gender. According to Dr Anuradha Sovani, Associate Professor, Department of Applied Psychology, University of Mumbai, “Overparenting is when the child is smothered; has no life other than that with parents and no exposure to the ‘real world’ out there at all.”

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October 2020