How to Avoid Being an Overprotective Parent
Boldy Parent Your Children for Success
Today I wanted to talk about three myths about overprotecting our kids. These are myths that I have personally busted in my life being a dad. Maybe you have busted these myths in your parenting journey, too. I hope you have.
Before we get started let me say again what I always say. You as a parent know more about what your kid is ready to learn. You know them, I don’t. But I will challenge you to look at yourself and your motivation for holding back valuable information for kids to be successful in life.
Myth 1: Our Kids Must be Overprotected to be Happy
To first address overprotecting our kids in order for them to be happy, let’s figure out what happiness really is for a kid. Of course, it varies from family to family, child to child.
I admit there are times that I think that in order for kids to feel happy they need to be surrounded with toys, candy, and unlimited Minecraft time.
Generally, kids need to feel safe, significant, and loved.
It’s not that complicated, is it? Happiness isn’t as involved or as expensive as society and the media would lead us to believe.
If we overprotect our kids, if we shelter them too much, we actually do them a disservice. As parents, we are called to raise our kids in reality, not some ideal of what we wished the world really looked like.
Because when they get out on their own, and that is the goal, we want them to be ready for what the world may bring. By not letting our kids see the world as being a beautiful, but sometimes dangerous place they’ll walk into all sorts of trouble at school, at home, and with their friends.
Think about the animal kingdom. Wolves teach their young ways of the world and send them off to live on their own. Because if they don’t they won’t survive. Wolf mothers don’t let their young live with them for 2 years and still do their hunting for them. Preparing our young for life without us is natural.
We have an obligation as protector parents to show our kids how to provide for themselves, see danger before it strikes, and respond accordingly. We do this as they grow so that when they are ready to go out on their own, they’ll not only survive, but they will thrive as well.
Boldly raise your children. Don’t raise a victim.
Myth 2: Kid Social Media Accounts are Safe
Facebook was in the news again because they are developing an idea to create an Instagram account for kids under 13. The idea was that kids would be able to post and share images on the platform. Kids can share their art, thoughts, and images online. What could go wrong, right?
So let’s think critically about two elements of this idea. First, why do they want an app for kids and second how are they going to verify that all the users are kids?
Why does Facebook want an Instagram for kids under 13? While I don’t know for sure, I imagine it has a lot to do with advertising and growing market share. Facebook isn’t going to spend this much money and time developing this idea for no profit. That doesn’t sound like Facebook at all.
Next, how are they going to verify the ages of the users? Let me tell you pedophiles lie all the time to people’s faces, so lying to an app to create a kid account is nothing to them.
And even if Instagram could create a solid verification process, how invasive would it be to our kids in the first place? Now I’m not naive, I know kids under 13 are using Instagram already, some with their parent's permission. But I don’t think that’s a great idea, personally.
Not to mention that social media for kids under 13 is not the best for your kid’s mental health. Social media ain’t great for my mental health and I’m an adult.
I know what it’s like to look at my business account and wonder why one post got fewer likes than another. Can you imagine what that stress would be like for a 10-year-old’s personal account? That’s not a good combination.
Myth 3: The News is too Scary
The last myth I want to share with you is that the news is scary and we don’t need to let our kids know about what’s going on in the world. Of course, if your kids are young, then you might not want to watch the news with your kindergartener. But as your kids mature, it’s okay to let them know what’s happening in their community and their country.
I remember back to January 6th of this year. My son was still on winter break so we were home that day. My social media feed started to fill up with all sorts of posts about what was going on at the capital.
I wanted to turn on the TV and see what was happening in real-time, but I paused because I wasn’t sure if my 8-year-old was ready to see a live, national event like this. But then I remembered back to all of the things I watched as it developed live on TV like the Berlin Wall coming down, operation Desert Storm, Oklahoma City bombing, OJ Simpson chase, and the list goes on. All of those events shaped me and you too, chances are.
So I turned on the news and we watched it together. I did my best to explain what was happening and answer any questions that he had. And you know what, there were no nightmares, no shock, or bad side effects from watching that event unfold.
We underestimate how resilient and logical our kids can be. January 6th is one of those significant events where you will remember where you were when you heard about it, just like 9/11. But my son experienced this with me, we talked about it and he grew up some that day.
We can’t deny our kids the chance to grow up in the face of a national event. Allowing your kids to know what’s going on in the world is a chance for them to learn and grow, we shouldn’t be so quick to deny them these opportunities.
I know these myths seem wide-ranging, but the truth is, we can’t overprotect our kids. There is a balance and it’s up to us as parents to strike that balance. Sometimes we’ll get it right, others we won’t. Protector parenting is a process.
We aren’t called to raise victims. We are called to raise the next generation of protectors.