Stop Being Overprotective

Stop Being Overprotective

Erin Alzapiedi, Contributing Editor

In a society where every kid gets a trophy, how are kids expected to learn how to work hard or face rejection? Parents today are so concerned with sheltering their kids that they are suffocating their kids’ ability to fend for themselves, thus creating a nation of wimps.

One of the biggest issues nowadays is the hindering of child development through lack of interactive and creative play. So many toys and play structures are centered around the concepts of safety and education, and play is often guided by parents. As a result, kids don’t learn how to create new and creative scenarios, practice social skills, or even react appropriately to a minor injury. Parents are teaching their kids to overreact in the simplest of situations, and kids are failing to learn important social skills that will help them in both their education and their future.

Because children are being taught fear from such a young age, they won’t dare challenge the status quo. They are being taught that being particularly unique (unless they are exceptionally superior) is far too risky and that fitting in is the best and only option. According to Hara Estroff Marano, “anorexia or bulimia in florid or subclinical form now afflict 40 percent of women at some time in their college careers.” The pressure to look like and act like everyone else has become detrimental to the health of today’s youth.

Additionally, parents are constantly pressuring their kids to do well in school and be the best academically so they can beat all their peers, go to a top college, and live a successful life. This is creating all kinds of new stresses for students and is leading to a build-up of anxiety and depression. “American parents today expect their children to be perfect—the smartest, fastest, most charming people in the universe. And if they can’t get the children to prove it on their own, they’ll turn to doctors to make their kids into the people that parents want to believe their kids are,” says John Portmann, a professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. He couldn’t be more accurate. 

In trying to protect and help their kids, parents are turning children all over America into deadline-and-achievement-obsessed basket cases who can’t truly think for themselves. This ideal image being forced upon children causes kids to miss out on the time they need to experiment and figure out who they want to be. It’s no surprise that the percentage of students going into college with an undeclared major is at an all-time high.

Kids aren’t even free of their childish dependence on their parents when they go to college; cell phones have created an ongoing connection making it even more difficult for children to grow and learn on their own. In addition to that, kids are drowning in the stress of parental expectations which can result in substance abuse, self-harm, depression and other major issues. They have been sheltered to the point of recklessness. “There is a ritual every university administrator has come to fear,” reports Portmann. “Every fall, parents drop off their well-groomed freshmen and within two or three days many have consumed a dangerous amount of alcohol and placed themselves in harm’s way. These kids have been controlled for so long, they just go crazy.”

How will kids, raised in this way, ever grow up to be fully functional adults in society? How will they find a job if they don’t even have the necessary communication skills to say hello to a fellow peer?  Parents need to give children space to learn and experiment; kids need a chance to develop on their own and discover who they are. We are becoming a nation of wimps, which is scarier than any poor grade or non-padded playground could ever be.