How you could be harming your children while trying to protect them

She is a kitten, 3 months old, otherwise ready to leave her mother. Her two brothers, twins- if I may, are ready to explore the world. But she is quite not ready, Why? Glad you asked because she is clumsy. There isn’t much room for the clumsy in the wild. Clumsy means starvation, clumsy means becoming the prey in a wider ecosystem. But why is she clumsy? Well, the first week since her birth she grew a little slower than her brothers, and her mother cared, as every mother would in the world. But in that care she mixed over protectiveness, she had to. She was weak so her mother wouldn’t let her go “play”, she could get hurt.

Using her claws is innate, but there is no fast-food in the wild, rather the food is fast. She can’t run fast, neither can she run for long distances, nor even take a leap. Those sharp nails could hurt a bird but birds don’t come before paws. Poor kitten! There are preying hungry tigers and sly foxes, the apex predators. Their paths are destined to cross. And it did. The irony, it is her mother, the tiger’s meal. The tiger was just hungry, and mercy doesn’t make jungles. The poor kitten is left stranded in the wild, most likely not for long.

I am putting forward overprotectiveness as cancer; because, it is. For those suffering from it, it’s hard to find or detect until it is too late. The reality is frightening because overprotectiveness starts when one is too small, when one can’t fight. It is not a single action, that is overprotective; but a series and chain of actions identify in unison as overprotectiveness.  (Like laziness, not working a day on your goals might not identify as laziness but if for a month, it most likely counts.) One of the actions might be identified when parents buy their children toys ‘every-single-time’ they cry for it- I am not telling they shouldn’t, but things like these add up, so do their negative consequences: exponentially. I have seen so many parents who do not let their children play outside, this action rooting from the fear that they might fall down or injure themselves (disappointingly, even because their clothes might get dirty).

Children learn so much by playing. Their basis of thinking and perception of the world is based upon it and their futures are so very defined by the environment that they are raised in: you don’t raise a hunting lion in a zoo. But so many children are being raised in a prisoned environment these days, they are! And it is sad and hurts me every time I see or even think about it. Their curiosity is suppressed and so many times, is being forced to action in an unfriendly way. It is painful that many children nowadays are asked to rather do things that don’t interest them (like aimlessly study) more than do things that would kindle their curiosity and trigger their learning abilities (like play). The importance of children playing is very under-rated. Seeing these horrible things firsthand makes me feel ‘thankful’ that I played heart-full (even though mom would scold or beat me).

Being a parent is hard, no doubt.  It could be even harder when parents can’t even take proper care of themselves: most likely overprotected children end up like that when they become parents. Maybe the solution is becoming a parent ‘when you are ready’ and when you can deal with your ‘supposedly-pristine children’ being hurt a little but also being able to take care of them- from a distance: it’s a tricky balance of things. When you can kindle their curiosities and not suppress them. When you can find sneaky ways to mix their lessons in a fun way like you guys are ‘playing a fun game’ and not force them to parrot-recite inks on paper (that poor creature probably has already had enough in school). Qualities like kindness, love, honesty and work-ethics are the real lessons parents should be teaching their children, in a more supportive and ethical way: that is, learning by doing.

And if you are wondering what happened to the poor little kitten, it was tough for her but she painfully secured her first meal, the second and so forth. But, she is yet to encounter the tiger. She has learned so much now that she is on her own, but not mercy, mercy doesn’t make jungles.

-Abinash Karki