Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Children are, by definition, minors which means they are not considered legally mature enough to make crucial decisions on their own. They are not allowed to vote, drink, smoke, go to clubs, go anywhere  unaccompanied by adults. They are legally required to go to school up to a certain age and parents are liable to be punished if they mistreat or neglect their children in any way. This being the case, parental control is absolutely natural; the issue is the amount and extent of the control. A balance needs to be struck between protection and absolute control.
It is only natural for parents to want to protect their precious children from the dangers in the evil world yet the world isn’t populated with psychopaths, pedophiles and mass murderers; they are in the minority and according to the laws of probability, most of one’s neighbours are perfectly normal people. Your friendly local grocer is just that; a harmless and friendly man; the man next door has a wife and children and shares the same concerns you do. The teachers care about the children and every adult in the park isn’t waiting to abduct your kid. If too much control is exercised and children are wrapped in cotton wool, they will never learn to stand on their own feet and will be turning to their parents for help for the simplest of things late into their teens. Caring is natural but becoming obsessive is not. Loving your children is normal and expected but becoming a petty dictator is not.
The degree of permissiveness is naturally important and should be linked to the level of maturity and personality of the child. A four year old is not expected to run errands for his mother but should be able to negotiate the park with his little friends within sight of his mother who can intervene when necessary. A primary school student should be able to stop off at the grocer’s on the way home but not go to the cinema or theme park unaccompanied by adults. It is this kind of freedom which prevents the child from becoming a dependent child and teaches him about the responsibilities and expectations involved in communal living. There is nothing worse than treating a kid like royalty and waiting on him hand and foot. Overprotection breeds fear and complexes which are detrimental to future social relationships. The same is true for responsibility: a child cannot develop a sense of responsibility if he is never required to take any. If you don’t want your twenty year old daughter to say she cannot return home on her own from a friend’s house because she doesn’t know which bus to take and is afraid to find out, you have a problem.  Too much control cripples and prevents the individual from reaching his full potential so a happy medium needs to be reached between the desire to protect and personality development.

In short, it is never easy to determine the extent of permissiveness parents should exercise but too much of most things is bad. This is also true for the amount of control the child is subjected to. Parents should weigh the pros and cons, consider future implications and strike a balance. Falling into the protection trap is a big mistake. 

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