Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Overprotection - Part 1?

Part 1? - Yes, there could be more to this - here I go again

It is warranted, justified, or even in the child's best interest to be overprotective? OK, the term "OVER"protective already implies the answer, so that isn't exactly what I mean. What I want to explore is what is too much and should I or will I act differently given the circumstances of conception? I understand that IFers have had a long difficult road to hoe to get to their child, whether it be through natural means or adoption. And as with anything you have to work hard for, you have a different perspective than others who didn't have to work so hard. You learn not to take it for granted and you tend to want to protect it more and take better care of it, unlike the hand-me-down sofa we have.

But in the case of a child, easy come easy go doesn't apply. It is never easy to loose a child, even an unborn child, or even if it came to you accidentally or on the first cycle. My child is not more special than another child just because it took longer to conceive, cost more money to conceive, etc... I can't understand having different rules, taking different actions, and making different decisions, simply because it took longer than anticipated to have a child. To do so implys to me that had it been easier to conceive, one might tolerate more risk of loss, that had it been easier to have that child it would be easier to loose that child, could you go as far as to say one might take more risk because they feel the child is more easily replaceable? Why be more protective now than you would have otherwise?

While for some, having to struggle to bear offspring may motivate them to be more aware, more involved, more protective parents, if you were already committed to giving it your all as most people are, I doubt it can make you a worse parent. I don't want to live life in constant fear of harm to my child (any more so than a fertile parent) and I don't want to do a disservice to my child by always acting and making decisions in fear. I know at first that Cletus will seldom leave my arms, and when that happens, Cletus will probably be in Jennifer's arms. I'd like to think in my case my inability to not put the baby down, and not leave the baby's side is out of love and admiration and a consequence of having to wait so long for something I want so bad. It will be a greedy and selfish action of my heart to satisfy the spot that has been empty so long, not an act of protection. I should feel safe putting the baby down to bed in my own house.

But, when does protectiveness cross the line? When does it interfere with psychological and social development, when does it retard or suppress immune system development, when is a kid no longer able to be a kid, have fun and be carefree? I don't want Cletus to miss out on exposure to being held by other people, or miss out on being a kid because I was too afraid to let him/her. No you can't play at Johnny's house because he lives too close to the river. Don't let your inquisitive mind tell you to pick that up and look at it, you don't know where it has been. Don't walk to school with your friends even though it is only 3 blocks away, I will drive you because there might be strangers along the way. Why don't you join the chess team instead of play football? (Sorry if anyone was on the chess team.)

This is going to be an "Am I a parent" magnitude struggle for me. I am leaning toward kids need to be kids, play outside, get hurt, get sick, learn things the hard way, be rejected, not win every game, raise the bar in schools instead of lowering it to meet passing rates and retention guidelines. This is no different than my views have been all along. Parents should be involved and take responsibility for education, supervision, and protection, yet there is no substitute for first hand experience. They'll never learn to walk if you never put them down, you need to give them enough rope to hang themselves with you close enough to save them when they do. They need to learn things on their own, through experience. I would like to think my views won't change when the time comes and that I will be able to let go of fear and using good common sense let kids be kids.

I remember my grandpa getting chewed out by my grandma for just sitting back while my brother and I fought on his living room floor. But maybe there was wisdom in his ways. We weren't just fighting, we were working things out. We were learning something, I'm not sure what, yet doing it with an adult near enough to intervene should the situation start to get out of hand. I found a book I want to read about self-guided play and experiencing nature and another about experiences as a child. They are called Last Chi.ld in the Woods and Web of L.ife: Weav.ing the values that Sus.tain us. Has anyone read these books, enjoyed them, recommend them? I'm a slow reader, so no promises on this, but if you read a book you thought was helpful you can tell me about it and I'll consider reading that too.


Anonymous said...

Well that is a lot to think about!!! I am not sure how I will feel! Looking forward to the rest of your posts on the topic!


Jason said...

First things first, I have to give you a hard time - have you never heard of paragraphs!! Ok, now that that's out of the way. I think that being overprotective is warranted in many cases, including IF. I don't feel that it's in the best interest of the child though.

At some point you should let your kids onto a longer leash so to speak. Unless you home-school, which is a valid option, they are going to be out of your sight for some portion of their life. You could go to school with them or be an overprotective home-school parent (meaning home-school done improperly, not bashing home-schooling). Yes they will still be supervised to some level at school but not up to a parent's overprotective standard for sure.

I would think that most IF parents would not want to think that their child is better than anyone else's just because it was harder to conceive but I also think that it's a natural response. When discussing this with you earlier I went into that mind-frame without even consciously thinking about it. So to some degree I think it's simply a natural response to trying circumstances.

I would agree that to treat a child that was difficulty conceived (weird phrase?) differently than one easily conceived does imply that the child is easily replaceable. Of all people IFers know this isn't the case. But again I think it's a natural, unconscious process - not necessarily something that's purposeful.

I do feel that being overprotective could lead to harming a child's social, psychological, and physical well-being. If they aren't allowed to interact normally with other people how are they ever going to date or form close relationships? You're post was really long, so I think I addressed most of it with this my longest blog comment ever!