(Over)Protective Parents: Helpful or Harmful?

Are Some Parents Too Overprotective? What do you think?

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

My mom and I were speaking on the phone yesterday about a recent New York Times article on overprotective “helicopter parents,” their children and overnight camps. Did you see it?

Parents are “bombarding the camp with calls: one wanted help arranging private guitar lessons for her daughter, another did not like the sound of her child’s voice during a recent conversation, and a third needed to know — preferably today — which of her daughter’s four varieties of vitamins had run out. All before lunch.

We were laughing about how times certainly have changed since we were all younger– when parents told us to get up, rub some dirt on it, and give it another go. My Mom and I were trying to remember if I ever called when I was away at camp– maybe once– but we’re not completely certain of that figure. Of course, we didn’t have cell phones, email, web cams, or texting when we were kids– but would we have used them if we did?

People have been throwing around the term “helicopter parents” for quite some time now to describe parents who are overprotective of their children to a fault. Some people hate the term and others believe it’s spot on. Mothers and fathers often cite that “times have changed” and more hand-holding is necessary, even though, by many accounts, children in the United States are safer than ever. So is our attempt to protect negatively affecting our children’s ability to be self-determined and independent? What do you think?

Who: Sociologists find that helicopter parents tend to be mothers and fathers of “Millennials,” children of baby boomers, born between the early 1980s and 2000.

They saw their youngsters as “special,” and they sheltered them. Parents outfitted their cars with Baby on Board stickers. They insisted their children wear bicycle helmets, knee pads and elbow guards. They scheduled children’s every hour with organized extracurricular activities. They led the PTA and developed best-friend-like relationships with their children…Today, they keep in constant touch with their offspring via e-mail and cell phones. And when their children go off to college, parents stay just as involved.

Where do we see it: It’s been reported that overprotective parents are noticed on sports fields, schools, colleges, after-school programs, and now, even overnight camps. As I mentioned above, an article in the New York Times reported that overprotective parents have seeped into the camp culture, a place where children’s distance from home was often equated with “growing up” and “standing on their own 2 feet.”

In fact, the camps are now employing full-time parent liaisons to counsel parents from 7am to 10pm via email and phone. This position has become absolutely necessary because camps feel that they need to cater to the increasing number of parents who:

make unsolicited bunk placement requests, flagrantly flout a camp’s ban on cellphones and junk food, and consider summer an ideal time to give their offspring a secret vacation from Ritalin.

While camps want to accommodate parents, they worry that their over-involvement is negating the point of camp—a place to learn how to solve problems and make decisions without parental involvement. ]

What’s going on? Many reasons have been cited as motivators of overprotective parents. Parents are overprotective for all different reasons. In some cases, parents perceive that when they do something for their child, it comes out better. In other cases, parents feel a need for control in a world that seems more unpredictable and scary that it was when they were younger. Some parents have a fear of failure and hate to see their children struggle while others have a fear that their children will succeed and no longer need them as much as they did at one time. Still others feel entitled to check in with or about their children at any given time or they feel empowered by living vicariously through their sons and daughters who are doing things that the parents might not have been able to do when they were younger.

Here’s the rub from several sides:

(1) A study shows…Parental involvement can be very helpful. Data from 24 colleges and universities gathered for the National Survey of Student Engagement show that students whose parents were very often in contact with them and frequently intervened on their behalf “reported higher levels of engagement and more frequent use of deep learning activities,” such as after-class discussions with professors, intensive writing exercises and independent research, than students with less-involved parents. “Compared with their counterparts, children of helicopter parents were more satisfied with every aspect of their college experience, gained more in such areas as writing and critical thinking, and were more likely to talk with faculty and peers about substantive topics,” said survey director George D. Kuh, an Indiana University professor.

(2) A mixed reaction… Lenore Skenazy, a columnist for the New York Sun as well as a mother of a 9 year old son, recently talked about allowing her son to ride the subway on his own. People voiced both dismay and encouragement and called her everything from neglectful to a breath of fresh air. She used the incident to create her own blog about kids and independence, called Free Range Kids. The idea behind the concept is to live responsibly (seat belts, helmets, airbags, etc.), but not to restrict your child’s actions out of fear.

(3) The negative side of over-protectiveness, including:

(a) Undermining children’s confidence in their own abilities to take care of themselves and get things done;

(b) Instilling fear of failure such that they are denied the chance to learn how to persevere while standing on their own 2 feet;

(c) Stunting growth and development—in fact, studies have shown that these children lack some of the knowledge to negotiate what they need, solve their own problems, stay safe, and interact in close quarters with others;

(d) Inability to launch because they’re unsure of their passion, their own direction, and what to do next, if it means doing it on their own;

(e) Taking more staff, teacher, and administrator resources that would be directed towards their children but instead, must be used to tend to parental needs and wants; and, ironically,

(f) Raising parental anxiety levelsresearch has shown that parents who consistently judge their own self worth by their children’s success report feeling more sad and having a more negative self image than parents who did not engage in this behavior.

So, what do you think? Are parents going too far to protect their children and teens or are they justified in doing so? Do you think the affects are more positive or negative? Why? This is a heated topic with many different opinions. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Please comment below!

Related:

Letters to their helicopter parents from their children: first of series

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  1. Joelle
    Joelle says:

    “So, stop saying “I can’t because my parents won’t let me” and start realizing you can’t because you haven’t done anything to make yourself independent. The fault — and the future — lies with you and you alone.”

    Wow…way to oversimplify the problem, Charlotte. Certainly we all have to take responsibility for our lives at some point, but before you go accusing all overprotected kids of not doing anything to improve their situation and how it’s all our fault, think about someone who was in my position as a teen. I was not even allowed to get a job nor was I allowed to drive (which is essential where I grew up, given my area’s lack of reliable public transit), and it wasn’t for lack of will either. I would have gladly gotten a job, but as I was not allowed to drive, getting to work would have been pretty difficult/near impossible. Perhaps I could have biked to a place of employment, but once again, that would require that my parents allow me to have a job in the first place so that I could afford a bike…notice the never-ending cycle building up here? Hell, I remember asking my parents if I could take the train by myself one day so I can gain experience with that sort of transportation, but my mother refused because she thought it was too dangerous. I could have also just moved out…but where would a teenager without any transportation or any means of gainful employment move to? A friends’ house, perhaps?

    Luckily for me, I was able to somewhat escape the grip of my parents’ overprotective ways when I left for university and no longer had them hovering over every little thing I did everyday. However, until then, what would you have suggested I do….or would you have just yelled at me about how it’s all my fault that my parents were so overprotective and overbearing and how your husband had his own paper route and so we all need to just hush?

    It would help if you could look beyond your own experience for a moment and understand that life and in particular, issues of responsibility and independence, aren’t as simple as you make them out to be. I agree with you that thinking of oneself as nothing but a hopeless victim is unhealthy…however, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to say that a lot of my current issues regarding anxiety and depression are very closely linked to my parents’ overbearing ways. Luckily, I am now in a position where I can take responsibility of this aspect of my life (I am currently seeing a therapist at my university to help with these issues).

    To all of the overprotected kids here, you have my sympathies.

  2. cindy
    cindy says:

    im 16 turning 17 on july 6
    i was just curious shouldn’t be time that i get a curfew? i have friends but im not in the “popular” group but i dnt want to be because i notice that they are the kind of people that does drugs and stuff, they also drink beer. see videos on youtube of teens my age having lives like doing music videos in the beach or in their friends house sometimes even around the neighborhood. but i envy them so much because I want to have fun just like them but i cant because my parents wont let me. they always say ” its too dangerous there are crazy people out there” or i have this friend that just cuz she has a boyfriend she is a bad example, they say ” if you are going with her you cant go i dont like her what if she tries to make you have a boyfriend’ im tired of it. i want to have fun before im 18 when all the serious stuff begins. im a very happy person but i hide these feelings that i have. i been having these frustrations ever since summer started and my senior year is about to begin and i cant even talk with my own friends because they are always talkin about there fun lives and what they did. it hurts that i dont have ANYTHING to share about my life that is entertaining enough. i just listen and listen and envy them of what they did. another thing that scares me is that i heard that when teens have no freedom they become rebels at some point in life. my cousin got pregnant at 16 with the first guy that liked her because it was her 1st time being in “love” she sneeked around with him until BAM she got pregnant and now she has 3 kids at 25. her life is not really the kind of life i want. or my half sister that got so angry at one point she ran away from home and became a druggeee. i understand my parents dont want me to be raped or kidnapped but i see thousands of teens at the mall and stuff and nothin happens to them! ugh im just frustrated right now and just wanted to let all this out. thank you i feel better….kinda! =/

  3. Gem green
    Gem green says:

    i come from what could be described as an extremely overprotective/overbearing almost manipulative family life, with my parents being so scared of how the world would effect us, the eleven children of theirs that everything was a big deal. from my first spend the night party at around 13, to watching a movie with my cousin by ourselves to dating a guy with the same religion and only seeing him when they were around. To this day when i decided to move back in to the “house” at 21 there are still many rules, that i disagree with. Life is complicated and difficult. i love them but the way they treated me and many of the other children was one I FELT of non trust even though i felt we showed no reason to not be trusted. Perhaps the reason they are like this stemmed from the way their life was a long time ago/ Perhaps it is all out of fear or some twisted sense of ingranded thwarted love of control over those put under their gaurdianship. i am not sure. i do not that they will never change and i must and have to love them anyways. it is one of the hardest things to do because of the life i have had to live because of my past at home and the result of how i felt because of it. i cannot of course blame everything on them, or my childhood, however, after a certain point in your life, if niavity kicks in so deep, if trust for people and giving your life kicks in so deeply that you do not know why you are living or who it is for, then when you are mistaken and something major happens to make you question all of it, what is it that you can possibly do to find yourself… your whole life was built on sacrifice and now there is no one that will accept your sacrifice because it is tarnished or different or judged by a different lifestyle. maybe none of this makes sense and maybe that is good. and maybe everything in life is mostly situational but i just believe that strict parents are close minded. at least the Overly strict parents, the ones that don’t want to know who you are as their children because they might be scared. the ones that don’t want to let you go anywhere or do anything or meet anyone out of fear that you might be corrupted. that is not living your life. and if the parents believe in God, than that is pure hypocracy. life is meant to be love. not fear or hatred of sin, but love of the sinner with forgiveness and giving someone too many chances to count. not an ultimatum. once you “do this” or “act like this” or “live like this” then you are out and we can no longer support, care or accept you as one of the members of our family…
    those are my takes. comments would be greatly appreciated… thank you
    Gem

  4. remi oyekan
    remi oyekan says:

    I have overprotective parents,
    and these studies are absolutely correct.
    i don’t feel comfortable doing things on my own and i fear failure because my parents are always hounding me. i feel like i will leave high school inexperienced because they just won’t let me live, out of their own fear.
    my mother grew up in the projects of East Saint Louis, where she witnessed alot of crimes. i used to live in the projects of Washington D.C. , but we now moved to one of the best suburbs in america, and she still insists that something is going to happen to me if i learn how to ride the bus or the metro. time is of the essence, next year im going to college, and alot of stuff i still don’t know how to do. she’s going to have me lost, and we are far apart in age. meaning one day she might pass. and i won’t have anybody to turn to. and i don’t appreciate when she finds little excuses to deprive me of my freedom. it frustrates me. and she is violent so i bottle my emotions and my anger problems get worse. she doesn’t realize she also affects my social life. i was raised right , and she knows this. but it’s so hard for her to let go.

  5. Glen
    Glen says:

    Dear Dr. Silverman,

    I am a 33 year old man who still lives with his overprotective mother (although she will deny it), I wanted to tell her that what she has been doing to me is wrong but I didn’t want to tell her face to face so I wrote her a letter and in it I told her that she is developmentally holding me back by not letting me be social with people and she got angry with me and said to me that if I want to live on my own that I should move out, but she doesn’t seem to understand that when I say that I would like to have a social life but keep living in the house. I did not say that I wanted to move out of the house, I just said to her to give me a little freedom, but now I’m thinking that won’t happen because she is mad at me and not looking at things from my point of view, which is what I was trying to do in the letter, but it didn’t work and now I don’t know what to do. I’m lost and I want her to try and understand that. Please help me!

  6. DrRobyn
    DrRobyn says:

    Hi Glen,

    I know this might be tough for you to hear, but I think your Mom is right. I think you need to move out and get your own space. By staying where you are, you aren’t allowing room for your relationship to change with your Mom– from a parent-child relationship to an parent-adult child relationship. If you can, start looking for a place or a roommate!

  7. Deanna Shopa
    Deanna Shopa says:

    I’m 16 years old and i am SICK AND TIRED of my parents smothering me. It started when i started school ”You cant walk to school by urself u’ll get lost, let me hold ur hand or drive you” , “no you cant have a sleepover. i dont know that persons parent” “No you cant go on the class ski trip, what if you have a seizure while skiing, crash into a tree and get seriously hurt?” “because you act so hyper and crazy, we’re cutting you off of all treats like popsicles, cookies, and granola bars. have fruit instead” and thats just up to grade 6!!! I got suspended in elementary school for fighting and yelling at the other kids, or randomly crying in class. i was so angry i felt like i didnt have a childhood like the other kids. i came home crying from school daily, and then got yelled at for it. then my older sister came and moved in with us, she was my idol. i adored her and came to her all the time to be my friend, care for me and play with me. eventually she couldnt take them either, she got into drugs, booze, and sex. then i walked in on her trying to commit suicide and called 911. at the age of 10. my mom n dad would help me with homework, harrass me about grades, sometimes even do my homework for me. i hated them. now the past few years since i started highschool they’ve been even worse. grade 8 they cut me off from hanging out with friends, made me break up with my first boyfriend, my dad was violent with me and my mom did nothing to help, sometimes even going out when he started yelling at me. to quote my dad ”You are a sack of shit of a human being! ur a poor excuse for a daughter! sometimes i wish i could shoot you and bury you in the back yard. oh even better lets move to romania, thats legal there.”
    f**ing abuse. i made a list of every rule they made for me and it goes way over 100. strraight home after school, call before u go anywhere, tell us who ur with where ur going. are there boys there? how many.
    i tried killing myself in grade 8 to escape cuz i couldnt take it anymore. then again in grade 9. i’m on 3 different antipsychotics and an amphetamine to control ‘my behavior’. if im depressed, they swear at me n say to stop. i brought my boyfriend over today so we could watch a movie and be together for once and they embarrassed me, harrassing me about sex, i had only an armfull of laundrey and she yelled “THATS IT??” no sh** ive been wearing pajamas all week. duh. after the movie and when my bf left my dad yelled at me saying ”you have to ask before you bring anybody to the house!! you f**ing know that!! idc if he only got here a few seconds before us! as long as you live under my roof you have no say in anything, you have to ask before doing anything! don’t like it? go back to ur birthfather!! next time he’s here i’m taking him to the back yard to talk to him n i’m bringing this up!! you think just because ur 16 now changes anything? that you have some kind of special priveledge? i got news for you! nothing has changed” they blame all my issues, like my anger, depression, anxiety, sleep apnea, and now my bleeding ulcers, on the people i hang out with, the fact tht im just fucked up, hereditary issues and wht i eat. I have been practicing wicca since grade 7 and am very happy with this religion, it is a practice that idolizes a goddess and doing spells for good purposes. my parents called me Satan’s whore and said i was going to hell for this. my dad has thrown me across a room before and tried to hit me. my mom isnt as abusive. she is somebody i can talk to, but she makes so many excuses for y i cant be free like other kids. i wanna fucking die because i feel thats the only way i’ll ever be happy. all i ever wanted was supportive, gentle, guiding parents, not prison guards who keep me on a leash. i cant even say how i feel cuz they make excuses like ”we do this cuz we love you and dont want you to be hurt. not because we hate you” or it causes this huge shit storm where i end up crying and hyperventilating on the floor. i dont believe them. theyr doing serious mental and physical harm to me. they cant love me if they did they wouldnt be taking my life away. THIS IS NOT LIVING
    thank you for listening to my story. is there any way i can escape?

  8. Rory
    Rory says:

    It seems like Charlotte above doesn’t fully understand the complexities of being raised by overprotective parents.

    “So, stop saying “I can’t because my parents won’t let me” and start realizing you can’t because you haven’t done anything to make yourself independent. The fault — and the future — lies with you and you alone.”

    Yes, it was all my fault that my parents were ridiculously overprotective. After all, as you put it, if I had just proven myself to be a more responsible child, maybe they wouldn’t have been as smothering. It’s not like there are parents who chose to be overprotective because of their own psychological control issues or have kids who will never earn their trust no matter how well-behaved and hard-working they are (as was the case with me).

    It is true that many teenagers don’t take the initiative to prove to their parents that they can be independent and responsible, but it goes both ways. It is important that teenagers and young adults display such initiative, but how can they do so when a smothering parent blocks every opportunity their child could utilize to this end (take for example, a parent who is so overprotective to the point of refusing to let his/her child participate in extracurriculars after school, hold a job, or do anything productive that would require time away from mommy and daddy)?

  9. Ally
    Ally says:

    I agree. My parents are terrified about me leaving the house alone. They say it’s because of abductions and getting hit by a car. Um… hello? I’m almost 13, and I’m not so stupid as to run around the streets like a maniac. Plus, there is a total of 95 kids kidnapped by a complete stranger and killed. Out of MILLIONS. And my parents are always taking me to the doctor “because I look pale”, but last time I checked, I don’t get to leave the house much. OF COURSE I’m going to be pale if I have to sit inside all day doing homework and going on the computer. Ever wondered why my grades are getting worse, Mom and Dad? Because I don’t see the point to it anymore, and because I’m trapped in a cage you call “the Office”. I want my life back. They’re already talking about what college I’m going to get into. I’m 13.

  10. AKW
    AKW says:

    Dear Dr. Robyn,

    I’m 24 (nearly 25) and still live with my extremely overprotective mother. She’s so involved in my life it’s gotten to the point where I feel like I need to be in an institute. Some examples: whenever my boyfriend is over and we bicker about something, before I know it she’s right next to me trying to intervene. Or whenever I bring up wanting to move out, she gets so angry to the point she stops talking to me. Or when I go out and am not home in a certain amount of time (or haven’t checked in), she calls my phone constantly and will sometimes send family members out looking for me. I feel like I”m loosing my mind and have no independence. What do I do? Please help!

  11. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    “Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority.” – Thomas Huxley.
    I am 16 going on 17, and I have adopted this quote in response to my ‘helicopter parents’. What parents like this fail to see is that by overshadowing their children, the child subject to it has only two choices: to comply or rebel.
    While the attitudes of overprotective parents can shape children into anxious and scared adults, the effects on the child can also go other way, creating socially immature, rebellious teenagers. These teenagers in turn learn to hate any authority figure they feel is standing in the way of them doing what they want, be it parents, teachers, and the law, in particular. They are socially immature because of their parents failure to allow them to make mistakes and learn valuable lessons and this immaturity prevents them from expressing themselves in mature, effective ways. Adolescents in these situations feel as if they cannot look up to their parents as role models, so they idolize celebrities, musicians or even their friends and follow in their footsteps, no matter how bad of an influence they are . ‘After all, parents are just obstacles in the way of having fun, right? They arent even people, they’re just authority figures who are there to say ‘no’ and hold you down all the time.’
    Teenagers who have it in them to rebel against this helicopter treatment will definitely break the law at least once. Most likely they will try drinking or an illicit drug, and sneak out of their house late at night, even just for the sake of being outside. They will scheme and connive their way into getting things done under their parents noses without them even knowing, and end up doing all the things their parents tried so hard to prevent them from.
    I mentioned before that I am 16, but I did not mention that I too have helicopter parents. I admit I am socially immature, and my mother’s hovering behavior did not help my depression earlier this year at all. I used to be so scared to do things and I still am, but not to the degree I used to be. One day I realized that I could do things for myself, and since then I have fought tooth and nail against my overly traditional parents (particularly my father) to have a social life and my own identity. I’m still trying to convince them to let me sleep over my best friend of four years house, which is up the street from my own. The pushing and pulling my parents have put me through and all the restrictions they have placed on me have only made me hate them and pushed me further away. I now sneak out of my own home just to feel the adrenalin rush of doing something entirely by and for myself. I don’t even care where I go or who I’m with, or even if I walk down my street and come back inside. The freedom is like a drug to me, one I don’t intend on giving up any time soon.
    So I speak to overprotective, helicopter parents when I say that you are not shaping your children into being successful people. You are turning them into dysfunctionial members of a society, one they may never be emotionally OR socially part of.

  12. Jane
    Jane says:

    I cried just reading these.
    I will turn 18 in a few months, and as I reflect upon my childhood, I realize I had not lived a day in my life. My parents kept repeating “out of love…for your own good…we are just trying to be the best parents we can be” like its propaganda. I have the awful combination of parents where they are never home, spoiling, and in addition to them locking my two brothers and I in a house, pacified us with TV, toys, and video games. We were lab rats who were rewarded for perfect grades, but not for having friends or joining clubs. They continue to sedate us with vacations (where we are trapped in the hotel room) and food, so much unhealthy food. All three of us have hardly exercised (we are only allowed to use our pool during June and July, and only when one parent was watching us.) They use money in a cruel manipulative manner. They tell me that, to reject the gifts, to not want, and to criticize, shows how ungrateful I am and I should remain in my place.
    I live in Arizona, where summer vacation sucks (so I can’t leave the house) and everything is so far that I can’t walk. Since the buses are “full of murderers,” I can’t use that either.
    I went to a summer camp the first time in my life when I was seventeen, and it was the highlight of my life. I went camping and realized my parents have held e back. I slept on the cold ground, and got a sick thrill from having nothing, from being bitten, and from being exhausted. Unfortunately, they use it as a counter-argument to being overprotective. They believe since I went to Canada by myself ONCE, when I was seventeen, never before that, that I am as independent as any other kid.
    The side effects of my child hood:
    Hatred of material goods. Clutter makes me cry, and I have an urge to throw away all my dresses, my jewels, and give the money to charity, they need it a hell of a lot more.
    My poor waistline: They believed that food makes happiness. I don’t think I can go two weeks without fast food being brought home. Now I only get a drink, but when I was a vulnerable youth, I would get a double cheeseburger. And they say my waist is purely my fault, and I want to cry. I had no control of my body up until I was ten. You think it is my fault since you left me with extra pounds that I alone have to get rid of? You’re over 50, fat, and miserable. I REFUSE to be fat for another year. It has hurt my brothers’ eating habits as well. Open your eyes.
    Sadomasochism:
    This is the only place I will admit it, but I get a thrill from hurting myself, and experiencing pain. No, I don’t cut myself, but I love to be sore, itchy, bruised, scraped, etc. I feel so alive when I have proven my worth by getting exhausted and dirty. I beat myself for bad behavior and tell myself off, since my parents won’t. I can’t stand love, its too much and it is the reason I am so unhappy.
    Secret pleasure of feeling poor:
    Having pennies in my pocket, eating lentils and boiled water with canned tuna,makes me so happy. I love that I don’t carry a purse, that I only eat two meals a day now, and when I truly only pack the essentials. Minimalism makes me so alive. Its not what my parents wanted, and that’s why its awesome.
    Reluctance:
    I want to go to an east coast college, so bad. But my parents use money as an excuse. Wait a minute, you spoil me, CONSTANTLY, yet you can’t provide for college, the only thing parents should help their kids pay for? They tell me to go instate (AND LIVE IN ARIZONA FOR 4 MORE YEARS?), which at this point, I will have to if I am going to get money. I am going to the number 3 high school in the nation, and have a 3.7 GPA, yet I can only aspire to ASU? It’s okay, but I want to enroll in top 50 colleges. It’s not just colleges, I can’t even buy a T-shirt without parental judgement. I can’t even ask out a boy, because of a looming insecurity. I know I am my own person, but I feel mind controlled.
    Learning about life:
    Ironically, my parents were so busy protecting us from rapists that they did not care that we played M games, watched R movies, and read adult novels. That’s how I learned of the world around me. Sex, drugs, alcohol, abuse, all was provided for me in the fictional realm. The result: nothing scares me. I have yet to find a game too scary to play, or a film to scary to finish. I have become numb to sexual content, drug references, and even the most gruesome acts of violence, and some of those games went all the way with that. Maybe I need to experience it first hand, but otherwise, I do not cringe like normal people do. If any good came out of violent video games, it is that one game makes me want to do parkour, and another, where a female soldier commands a squad, makes me want to enlist in the ROTC. Which brings me to…
    Enlisting:
    To enlist in the ROTC I feel would reverse all the influence of my parents. To work with others, to be exposed to real danger, to be able to pin a man with a gun down on the ground, to be a leader, to experience real life consequences of acts of hate and violence would develop me more as a character than if I became the stereotypical Asian doctor who married another doctor. My parents are supporting me for this (but they think I plan to sit at a desk all day). They fail to realize that I plan to leave the green zone, and expose myself to real world danger. Of course, I will be trained with the necessary skills to survive, I’m not stupid.
    Leadership-complex?:
    I want to have power when I am older. I want to be a politician, and I want MY CHOICES to impact the lives of MILLIONS. Of course I have to start small, become a lawyer, and work my way up from there. But I want to be a public figure, and preach the importance of independence.
    MOST OF ALL;
    Boredom. Nihilism. Since I was 10, I felt my life had no meaning (still do). I am not an Atheist, but I wonder why God ignores me, and as of now, I am not bothered to know why. I think I can say that I have spent at least 40% of my life in my room alone. During those horrible Arizona summers, I asked my mom if we can do things, but she was working and told me “tough luck that you get bored, I’m not supposed to entertain you.” I went to my bed and cried. I have actually CRIED of boredom. I merely exist. I am a movie camera, I record, observe. I never participate. I could spend whole weekends at home alone. My brothers were pacified by ice cream and video games, so they did not feel what I felt (they only just realize this now).
    The only thing that keeps me going, is the fact that Abe Lincoln grew up in a log cabin, and was miserable. He was depressed, and believed his life had no meaning. He escaped reality with books, and made something of himself. I want to know that I am reversing what my parents have done to me: making me numb.

    All of our stories made me cry, I wish we literally could all get together and talk about this (since most of us are young, and feeling the burden right now.)
    I know I am a stranger, but I respect all of you.

    I just want to ask, am I doing something right with my life?

  13. Kaye
    Kaye says:

    I just wanted to say that my parents are over-protective but I like it. i don’t know what’s up with you guys. I don’t think being overprotective is really so bad. They are just protecting us and being responsible parents. It hurts to see how many teens these days would go rebel because of being restricted by their parents.
    You should be thankful enough that they are showing how much they care.

  14. Lyndsey
    Lyndsey says:

    People don’t realize that others have it worse. They keep posting things like “My parents want to know where I am, who I’m with, and what I’m doing. It gets annoying!”, “they won’t let me visit my friends because they don’t know their parents”, and “she freaks out if I go over to my boyfriend’s house. She keeps talking about sex and pregnancies!!!”. I’m sitting here thinking “wow! that’s overprotective in most of America?! I’m still trying to get my parents to give me any social life whatsoever, wondering why I’m not allowed to talk to any boys at all, and why at 15, she still paddles me like a five-year-old and makes my bedtime at 8:30.” I have a friend that is homeschooled like me and lives in the mountains- she literally isn’t allowed to have any friends because none of the kids that come over are “nice enough” or “respectful enough” or just plain out “good enough” to deserve to be friends with them. And these are some pretty good kids!!! I know them and can testify.

    Here’s my story: My mom was always overprotective. My dad- not so much, but still pretty bad. They actually doesn’t know I’m typing this out. I’m using the spare moments mom doesn’t breathe down my back to tell this. I know they’re trying to keep me safe, and I love them for that, but what they’re doing isn’t working. When I was little, they made the decision to homeschool me. When I was supposed to be in kindergarten, I was in 1st grade. Child genius!!! But when I was in fourth grade, I realized that it wasn’t fun. I had ONE friend. I never got to talk to her because my mom wouldn’t let me use the phone. How we stayed friends like that is a mystery to me, but I’m grateful to her for that.

    Before I continue I should tell you that the biggest rule in the house was always- DATING IS NOT PERMITTED UNTIL YOU LIVE BY YOURSELF. You should also know that my mom looks through my diary and facebook messages on a weekly basis and says that if she can’t know what I’m talking about every moment then I can’t have a facebook (which happens to be the only thing keeping me sane- you know, my social life)

    So I have three sisters. In fifth grade i only had two at the time. I helped out homeschooling them. I was the perfect daughter. But then I realized that I had no friends. I sat on it for a long time. Then after careful consideration of what to say and how to say it I told mom (hey, mom, i have all of these responsibilities. I’m mature enough to handle those, right? Maybe I can be mature enough to handle some freedoms :D)— and she thought that I had begun to get a big mouth and was being ungrateful. No I wasn’t. I just wanted friends. To stress to me the kinds of friends she thought I wanted, she put me in public school- back to fourth grade, with the kids my age. It was amazing!!! I loved it and made lots of friends. I became popular fast. Everyone wanted to be my friend. Mom saw that I was making friends in “the wrong places” and pulled me out. I was lucky I got one extra day to say goodbye to everyone.

    In eighth grade, mom agreed to put me in for one day (grudgingly), and in that day I found out that all of my friends who would “forget about me and move on because they’re the wrong crowd” were always thinking, whatever happened to Lyndsey?… That made me happy. But when I went home and mom interrogated me on what happened, looking for one slip-up, it ruined my good mood. I got snippy and asked her why she ruined my day and, like all parents, she got mad. Unlike most parents she said, “I see that I’ve put you in school for just one day and you’ve already been brainwashed into thinking that you can smartmouth your mother!!!” She pulled me out, saying that I wasn’t mature enough yet and she didn’t trust me.

    Now, in tenth grade, I gave her a reason not to trust me. My dad finally stepped up and said that I was going to school one way or another. I was so happy!!! I went to HIGH school, and met not only old friends, but new ones too. I also made a boyfriend. I wrote about him in my diary- about how he made me feel special, how he was always there to listen, and how he gave me my first kiss. I facebook messaged him, careful to delete the conversations, because I know how my mom is. If my mom found out about this, I’d be toast. But we ended up dating anyway. This goes to show how special he was and still is to me.

    She found out. How? She hacked my facebook and read my carefully (but not carefully enough, obviously) hidden diary. The whole thing. Then she made dad read it. O_o not good. This was when I was in first period on a Thursday. I had no idea she’d done that. Big privacy breach! The next day, as I was about to go to school, she asked me, “What’s his name, huh? What have you two been doing?! You know he only wants sex!!!” Then I figured it all out. “You went through my diary.” She said, “YES!!!” As if she had every right to. No. “Go to school!” she fumed.

    I did. Unfortunately, my boyfriend wasn’t waiting like normally, but be left a message for me. <3 I LOVE YOU. Class was just about to start. So I had just gotten through telling all of my friends that my mom was going to pull me out and to find my boyfriend and tell him everything I told them when my teacher walked up and handed me a note. LYNDSEY- EARLY DISMISSAL.

    I didn't get to explain anything to him. Nothing. Just like that. Overprotective. Pulled out of school just because I kissed a boy. I would have told them everything if I had felt like I could. For me, if somebody won't trust me for no reason, I give them a reason to not. Like my mom.

    I'm glad that you did this research :) It brings stuff out into the open for people to look at.

    The whole point of what I'm saying is:
    Parents: The time for nurturing and sheltering was a long time ago. The older they get, the more responsibilities AND freedoms they should get. Your little babies are becoming mature adults and would feel more respected if you treated them as such.
    Kids: You have it good. Spend some time looking at the things you have, and less time looking at what you don't. I would probably have off'd myself by now if I didn't remind myself daily that I live in America and have more freedom than any woman in China and Japan and many other places. Freedom is a gift. When you receive it, don't complain that you want more. Be gracious and say "thank you".

  15. Bluehorse
    Bluehorse says:

    To Connie Easker

    I was considered over sensitive when I was a child, but it turned out I had synthesia, and my sense were literately over stimulated by certain noises and colors. I do agree people shouldn’t be over protective, and moving the child seems like a bad move, but I think it’s sad that you should laugh out load over a child’s hurt feelings. You don’t know what is behind the cause of her pain. Maybe you are UNDER sensitive. Just because people aren’t like you doesn’t mean you should laugh at them. You probably wouldn’t laugh at a person with a gun to your head or your boss that pays you. Why? Because they have power over you, but it’s children who can’t defend themselves who get laughed at. I think you should find out WHY the kid is in tears. The REAL reason and fix that problem.

  16. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    Wow these comments are intense and I read them all. My parents have always been overprotective but I was so brainwashed by them that I didn’t notice until about a year ago. I rebel but nothing will change until I get out. I’ve been struggling with depression, anxiety, self-harm, over-stressing, and benging and purging everything I eat. I know its my fault but I wonder why they hated me for dating one guy (and never even kissing him) but won’t get up and help with the things that are ruining my life. Suicide crosses my mind on a daily basis but I haven’t found the courage to end it that way. I have dreams of going to college at the art institutes of charleston, I have an obsession with music, and I have friends that are usually supportive except when they feel as bad as i do. My parents dont really approve of my college choice and I’m sure its bc they want to watch me, even in college. they almost chose my college for me until I finally told them that I dont want to go to the 2 year technical school. But I hate myself, even to look at myself in a mirror. I hate my scars. I’m ruining my life. im artistic but when it doesnt turn our right i get so mad at myself bc i cant just do something right. I crumble under pressure. I don’t even have my permit yet bc the first time I tried to get it I failed the test, but wouldn’t even let myself cry bc my mom was there. I can’t sleep and I’m always tired but my mom refuses to get sleeping pills that will actually work. She has never trusted me so my rebellion doesn’t make much of a difference. She snoops in my room and has read journals and notes that she had no right to read, and violated my privacy and haulted my efforts to help myself. I always feel violated bc my trust in people is gone, and everyday I feel worn to the b. I have almost no experience with guys, and I’m 16. I had that one bf, who cheated on me bc I’m obviously not pretty enough or good enough or something. I have no self confidence and I’m not capable of motivating myself to be interested in the things I used to love…if I eat i feel fat and my mother starts acting like im some pig so I purge, but sometimes I can’t stand the feeling afterward so I eat again and just go in circles. I weigh 110 but that’s too much bc it could be 100, or 90…. I told you all that but still some of my friends tell me that I don’t have it as bad as them. Everyone has their own struggles and mine is internal, self hatred, that im always dealing with. I’m scared of joining in on conversations at school bc no one cares about my opinion, or I might be rejected. I’m in no clubs, no sports, no outside activity. I’m not allowed to go to friend’s houses even though i ask constantly to just be able to spend time with them.. I’m insecure about my appearance and weight and the way that I think, and I almost believe that it all began with my overprotective parents undermining my confidence and teaching me to fear failure, and that im above other people which I’m not. I just want to learn to be hapy again and make my parents understand that I need help soon.
    I want to grow up and fall in love and create something beautiful for the world but I’ll never get there if I don’t fix myself…thank you so much to those that read this, I’m sorry for the self pity. To those that didn’t like this I understand and I’m sorry for the sad post.. </3 please give advice if you can

  17. Stacey
    Stacey says:

    My brother is 42 and still lives at home with mommy! He’s single and doesn’t know why he can’t keep a girlfriend…….HELLO! No self respecting woman wants a mamma’s boy! I’ve been living on my own since i was 21 and never looked back. I have a college degree and bought my own house. I would never date a guy who lived with his parents they are losers with no prospects. I think over protective parents seriously hinder the child’s ability to GROW UP!

  18. Meg
    Meg says:

    Im only 12, but i just wanted to say that i feel so bad, seeing all of these things makes me thankful for my dad, even though hes overprotective and i have to put my flasher on when i ski… yuck! I so do not have it as bad as you guys! When i feel like i have no one to go to… i go to god and i pray. I write down my prayers in a jornal and so far all of them but the problem im in now was answered… give it time guys. it may take years, but … it wont be forever because no matter how hard it is, god is always there. Its not him making you have a bad life, its the choices you or people around you make. Turn to him and he will show you the way.

  19. Meg
    Meg says:

    Oh and if your parents are actually violent towards you… That is abuse so you could call 911 and they would get in big troble.

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  2. […] closely overhead, rarely out of reach, whether their children need them or not.  According to Dr. Robyn Silverman, there are several motivators to parents for becoming overprotective of their children, for not […]

  3. […] closely overhead, rarely out of reach, whether their children need them or not.  According to Dr. Robyn Silverman, there are several motivators to parents for becoming overprotective of their children, for not […]

  4. […] creating a pattern of quitting that is being supported by their parents.  Sometimes, we are just too overprotective or too easily swayed by our children’s attempts to get out of fulfilling their promises. […]

  5. […] continuing our discussion about helicopter parents, overprotective parents who won’t let go and hover over the heads of their children, heading […]

  6. […] This week, we’re concentrating on Helicopter Parents because of the number of questions and letters I’ve received on the topic lately from our readers. The letters in this series are all taken from the comments section of one of my most popular articles; “Overprotective Parents: Helpful of Harmful?” […]

  7. […] been told by my daughter that I used to be a “helicopter parent” but that now I’m much better. I’m happy about that! I was wondering though, if I do have a […]

  8. […] So before I leap into tips that can help your child feel more comfortable in new situations, it’s necessary to subside our own fears first. Take a breath. Talk to a more experienced friend, partner, or parent. Remain calm and avoid falling into the role of overprotective “Helicopter Parent.” […]

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