On my blog entry entitled Seeing Own Child as Representative of Inner Child, a reader posted the following comment:
how do i stop overprotecting my son???and teach him the world is not a horrible dangerous place? ~ Jolson
When you were abused as a child, you know firsthand just how dangerous the world can be. When you become a parent, you want to protect your child from experiencing the same traumas that you did. It is 100% understandable that you want to protect your child from being hurt. On the other hand, if you go too far in being overprotective, you run the risk of your child being emotionally harmed by your dangerous view of the world. How do you achieve a good balance?
Sadly, achieving a balance in pretty much anything is a challenge for most child abuse survivors. I can tell when I am making progress in an area of my life when I am not being extreme. The best approach is almost always somewhere in the middle. I try to remember that for my child.
I do err on the side of being overprotective, and I am not going to apologize for that. I have no problem looking someone straight in the eye and saying that when you have been abused as a child, you don’t have the luxury of pretending that child abuse can’t happen. When in doubt, I am always going to choose the route that keeps my kid safe.
That being said, I don’t want my kid to miss out on experiences that will enrich him by being overly paranoid. So, I try to find a way to give him more freedom in a way that I know that he is safe. For example, I have not banned all sleepovers at other children’s houses, but I must know and trust the parent(s) before I let my child spend the night at another child’s house. If I don’t feel 100% comfortable with the parent, then the answer is no – period.
As my child gets older, I try to give him more room to fly. For example, I was nervous about my 10-year-old son attending a sleepover “lock-in” at our church. However, rather than simply say no (which I almost did), I inquired more about the planned activities and the chaperones. As it turned out, there were enough chaperones that I trust to let him try it. He had a wonderful time, and I am grateful that he had that experience.
I also try to remind myself that my child will never suffer as much as I did for one simple reason – he has me. I had nobody to advocate for me or protect me, but he has me.
Photo credit: Hekatekris