When does sheltering your kids turn into overprotecting?

By Janis Meredith | Posted 6/19/2017

For good reason, parents are getting more and more protective of their children. The more we know about potential injuries and the more we hear about the dangers of society, the more parents are tempted to raise kids in a bubble. 

But there are some instances in parenting, when hedge-building can cross over from being a buffer to being oppressive. 

How do you know when you’ve crossed the line? 

When hedge making becomes a substitute for learning discernment. It’s way easier to tell a child that something is bad or not safe than to tell them why and help them learn to discern themselves. This is true in youth sports when a parent may not be around.  Teaching children so they can watch out for themselves requires much more work. But if kids don’t learn, they may become dependent on Mom or Dad to tell them what to do and lose ability to make smart choices themselves. 

When hedge-making makes kids elitist. Let me use an example to illustrate this. Let’s say you insist that your child play only on the best, most elite sports team. Your reason is that you want your kid to get the best training, the best coaching. While the motivation to provide the best for your child is noble, constantly smoothing the path for them and making sure life is not hard is obsessive hedge-making. The result will be a child who filters things through an elitist mindset, and you will rob your child of some amazing character growth that results from hard lessons. 

When hedge-making makes you obsessive. Over-the-top hedge-making is unhealthy for you and your child. Over-protective parents are often not enjoyable to be around; their negativity and worry dampen the people around them. 

The bottom line when it comes to hedges is that you must strike a balance. Protect your child, of course, but remember that overprotecting--obsessive hedge making--has its liabilities for your family, for your marriage, and for your child. 

MORE: The USA Football Youth Football Parents 101 course, with Christine and Mike Golic

Janis B. Meredith is a sportsparenting blogger, podcaster, and life coach. She provides resources to help parents give their children a positive and growing youth sports experience. Her book 11 Habits for Happy & Positive Sports Parents is available on Amazon.