Help, I’m an overprotective parent.

Something I have slowly come to realize is that in my attempts to protect my kids from themselves, I’m robbing them of the independence they are capable of having. It’s very true that I have to protect my kids from themselves. This is especially true when it comes to Gavin.

Gavin lacks common sense and as harsh as that sounds it’s the truth.

When I say he lacks common sense, I mean that he is oblivious to things that would be obvious to most other people. As an example, if I have something cooking on the stove, Gavin will reach for something, almost burning himself. I never occurs to him that the stove is hot. In fact, I could tell him several times and he would still do the very same thing.

He has also been known to walk into the street and straight into oncoming traffic.

For whatever reason, these common sense type things just don’t register with him. As a result, my wife and I have had to protect him from himself. Does that make sense? Developmentally, Gavin is about 3 years old and so we have been very careful with what we allow him to do on his own, and while this has help to keep him safer , it also servers to stile his independence.

I have always justified these actions because, In my mind, his safety must come first.

The problem is that I have become overprotective. While our doctors and therapists say we are doing whats best, I occurred to me that this might not be the best approach, at least all the time.

I spend a great deal of time and energy constantly reminding Gavin not to do certain things because he’s going to get hurt. I have to remind him not to run up and down the stairs, or tell him not to touch something because it’s hot.  I also have to stop him many times because he is going to hurt someone else. No matter how many times we remind Gavin, he never seems to remember.

It’s literally like try to catch water in a sieve. Everything we say and do, all the time and energy we spend, just slips right through the cracks and is gone.

However, last night something happened that has had me thinking. In fact, I wrote about it in yesterday’s, Today’s Victory.

Basically what happened was this. I was bathing Elliott and Gavin still needed his shower. I was a bit overwhelmed and exhausted from the day. Gavin came in and asked if he could take his shower. I told him that I would help him when I was done with Elliott. A bit later he came back and said he could do it by himself.

To be completely honest, and I know how terrible this sounds, but I kinda filter him out anymore. He’s constantly talking and it gets to the point where I just sorta smile and nod. Well, that’s kinda what happened last night. I figured that I was able to listen to what he was doing and the hot water was basically gone anyways. So I told him to go ahead and take his shower.

To my complete and utter amazement, he did just fine on his own. Never in a million years would I have thought he could do that, and yet he did.

Last night I realized that while Gavin absolutely needs close supervision, he might not be as helpless as I had thought. He was able to turn the water on, get the temperature that he found comfortable and then take his shower.

This got me wondering how many other things could Gavin be doing on his own now?

While my overprotective nature is more than justified, the stifling of his independence is an unwanted side effect. As his father, I need to find a way to better balance  protecting him and nurturing his independence.

Just because Gavin was able to take a shower on his own this time, doesn’t mean it will work out the next.

Just so we’re clear, Gavin can take his physical shower on his own. What he needed help with has been turning on the water and making sure it wasn’t to hot.

Regardless of what happens the next time, this event really has me thinking about my parenting and whether or not I’m too overprotective in other areas of his life. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if every once in awhile, he learned a lesson the hard way.

After all, he has to fall in order to learn to pick himself back up…..right?

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nita

same here. my 8 year old daughter is completely unaware. i always joke that her common sense took a vacation…it pains me to read about us "crippling" our children because i guess, in a sense, that is what we're doing. she definitely has no concern with actions and consequences, because like kay said, she can tell you right from wrong, but in the moment, it is like it never was spoken to her.
i have to laugh though, lost, at the "smile and nod" as i find i do it almost rotely myself, lol. i tend to block out lil miss chatterbox sometimes.
i thank you immensely for this blog! i'm right there with ya!

Kay

I know exactly how you feel. My 9yr old has h/f asd and part of his problem is a complete lack of danger awareness. Yes, he can tell you all of the dangers if you take him into the kitchen and ask, but, he will still go to put his hand on the hob to lean when it is on. He seems totally unable to put thought and action together.
As a result, I too, have become quite protective. When he asked to climb a tree in the woods last summer, my instinct was to say 'no, too dangerous.' But then I thought about everything he is missing out on because of my 'protecting' him, and let him try a small, sturdy tree that was easy to climb. Amazingly, he lived to tell the tale, even if he did need blow by blow instructions on how to get up and down! He only climbed about 2 – 3 feet up, but the proud look on his face was so worth my stress.
I'm still protective over him, but I'm learning. I think the main thing to remember, is that if you're there with him as he tries new things, yes, he may get bumped and scraped sometimes, but he will manage. Good luck.

Vet

I think you are absolutely right. He has to live and learn basically. They say that the more you tell kids NOT to do something or anything like that they basically do the same as we do to them at times, tune us out. The more you tell them NOT to do something makes them want to do it even more. Maybe if you give Gavin the opportunity to "fall" he will understand consequences better. Of course I am talking about things that he won't get seriously injured doing LOL After all, the saying is "live and learn" right?

I have the same problem right now and am finding out that in my attempts to "protect" Sayge and keep her "safe"I have actually made her a bit too dependent. I watch other kids and what they are able to do on their own and then I look at Sayge. It kind of breaks my heart how much I have "crippled" her from the aspect of being independent.

Oh my dear Brother-in-law parenting is a continuous learning experience isn't it? LOL

<3 you guys!

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