There’s no doubt that raising a child is a full-time job, but some parents tend to overdo it. While being protective of a child is perfectly normal and can be expected from an adult, some parents continue mollycoddling their kids almost until they reach adulthood.
The term “helicopter parents” was coined to describe such people — mothers and fathers who are too protective of their children or show excessive interest in their lives. But where should one draw the line?
Educator and parenting counsellor Dr Swati Popat Vats says parents should understand the difference between safeguarding, protecting and hovering over their children. She says, “A parent is protecting the child when something bad comes the kid’s way. Safeguarding is ensuring that your kid is wearing appropriate footwear while climbing on the jungle gym, and when you have briefed the child about the dos and don’ts. Overprotecting means you are constantly hovering, and taking decisions for your children, not allowing them to take risks and constantly nagging and controlling them.”
Celebrities are often called “overprotective” for shielding their children from the paparazzi. It may come with their professions, which make them public figures, but celebrities often don’t have much control over how their personal lives are portrayed in the media. For example, photographs of Shahid Kapoor with his three-month-old daughter, Misha Kapoor at the airport last week were picked up widely. The actor had completely wrapped his child to shield her from photographers at the airport.
Akshay Kumar is known to hide his daughter Nitara Khanna Bhatia from the media as well. In the past, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan have also been observed keeping their daughter Aaradhya Bachchan, from being photographed. But by shielding their kids from the limelight, celebrities may be only safeguarding them from unwanted attention.
Vats says that celebrities’ children should not be photographed at any time without their parents’ permission. She says, “This is an infringement on the rights of the child and the parent. Stars don’t want everyone to know how their children look, their likes and dislikes, or where they go, because it can also make them an easy target for kidnappers.”
Long term harm
While it may not seem so to a concerned parent, being too protective of one’s children may actually be harmful in the long term. Vats says overprotective parenting can hinder the development of self-control and character. Clinical psychologist Seema Hingorrany agrees. “Such children lack emotional intelligence and the ability to develop. They are self-centered, and may focus too much on themselves, which may lead to social and relationship issues later in life,” she says. Being too protective can also reflect badly on the parents. Vats says that by overprotecting their kids, parents are actually projecting their own insecurities and may need counselling.