The term protective parenting means many things to many parents. To some is just means that they are there to provide and support and care for their children; to others it means that they must stand between their kids and all that is bad in the world.
You’ve probably roared a few times as a Mama or Papa Bear when your child has been threatened either physically or emotionally. I know I’ve had my fair share of the Mama-bear rage moments.
But just how far do you take protective parenting? How often do you step in with your don’t-mess-with-my-kid claws up?
Protective Parenting Doesn’t Mean…
- Bailing out your child when he makes a choice. He must live with the consequences of his actions.
- Lashing out at people who don’t give your child the recognition you think they deserve. I knew a sports mom who would call my husband screaming at him on the phone because her daughter–who was the main pitcher of my husband’s high school softball team–sat out two games in a tournament weekend. She wasn’t just protective. She was ballistic.
- Embarrassing your child by fighting their battles for them. Kids must learn this gradually on their own.
- Putting a bubble around your kid and keeping them from every bad experience. Of course, babies and little ones do need a protective bubble, but as they get older, the bubble should slowly disappear so they can learn–with your help–how to deal with circumstances that are less than perfect.
- Orchestrating the details of their lives, so things will be easy for them. Resist the temptation to push for them to be on the winning team just because they win or to switch teams just so they don’t have to fight for their position.
“Don’t Mess With My kids” is a Must…
- When you are keeping them safe from things that will harm them…physically, emotionally, or spiritually. As long as they are living in your house, this is part of your job. And that includes speaking up when they are making choices that endanger themselves.
- When someone or something causes them to feel afraid. Even then, they need to know that is okay to be afraid because you are there for them when they are.
- When your child makes a bad choice and others feel it is their job to step in and parent your child for you. Of course, he or she must suffer consequences in the arena where the offense was made–school, work, sports team–but when other parents step over the line from positive adult encouragement to parenting mode and you have not asked for their help, they need to know that is your job, not theirs.
Protective Parenting is a normal God-given instinct. In fact, I might question the dedication of any parent who does not rise up to protect his child from harm. Just be sure that your don’t-mess-with-my-kids attitude doesn’t cross the line from healthy protection to manipulative controlling.
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