Posts Tagged ‘ overprotective ’

How Not to Be “That Mom” or “That Dad”

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

One year.

There are basically two ways to be “that parent.” You can be over-involved in your child’s life; actually encouraging separation anxiety for them by drawing out goodbye’s by petting them and crying with them whenever you leave them at daycare.

Or you can be under-involved; letting your child run free in the grocery story, occasionally tossing them empty threats of “time out” when you get home.

Neither extreme is good. That’s why we normal parents do our darndest not to be “that mom” or “that dad.”

But this gets complicated because it’s no secret what a challenge it is to balance our parenting expectations with practical reality. It seems that to some degree, we all are “that parent.”

It’s necessary that I turn the question to myself: How am I “that dad?”

I am weird because I won’t let my son watch TV until he’s at least two years old. Plus, I am really strict about what he eats: No processed foods- that means no fruit juice.

Oh yes, what a cruel, demented, over-the-top man I am to keep my child from things I had when I was his age back in 1982. But I’m not going to change; I’m always going to be kooky like that.

So I guess I fall into the category of “over-involved.” Some of my critics could probably say that I am ironically depriving my child in a subconscious effort to declare my authority as an active and effective father.

Maybe I am. Because I don’t want to be “that dad.” I mean, the other kind of “that dad.” The kind I’m not. Or at least the kind I think I’m not.

As long as other parents are critiquing my parenting style, which they always will, I will always be “that dad.” I would say that I don’t care what other people think of me anyway, but I have observed that people who usually say that actually really, really care what people think of them.

It’s like a 14 year-old girl who says, “I’m so over him now.” No, no you’re not. If you were, you wouldn’t have to go around saying that to your friends, who are all wearing black Breaking Dawn t-shirts.

So in conclusion, I believe no matter what you do, you are “that mom” or “that dad” to the very parents who you yourself perceive as “that mom” or “that dad.” Get it?

In other words, the title of this post is misleading. There is no way to refrain from being “that parent.” You already are.

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The Papa Bear in Me: Yes, I’m Overprotective

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Seven months.

It’s a big, dangerous world out there and it’s my job to keep this little bambino safe.  But I must channel my fears into positive, rational energy.

There is plenty of truth in the stereotype that parents are over-protective with their first child. I know, because I’m living it right now. Subconsciously, I preview every potentially dangerous situation for Jack; no matter how improbable.

I am Jack’s protector- I can not let anything bad happen to him. Like Bruce Banner (the Incredible Hulk), I can instantly turn into the biggest beast of a monster in an effort to protect him. So while I am an average-looking, mild-mannered man, all it takes is Jack being in potential danger for me to transform into a potential killing machine.

But what is most relevant is that I prepare for Jack’s safety in every situation. So that I never have to rescue or save him. Being over-protective means preventing dangerous situations; not just worrying about them happening all the time.

For my 10th birthday on April 20th, 1991, my parents bought me exactly what I wanted the most: Bible Adventures, the Nintendo game. (Yes, it actually existed!) The game was modeled after my favorite video game ever, Super Mario Bros. 2, in that you could carry items above your head and throw them at enemies.

The most interesting (and disturbing!) thing in Bible Adventures was that if you played as Moses’ sister Miriam, you held baby Moses over your head and for some unexplainable reason, if you pressed the B button, you would throw the infant Moses onto the ground…

Miraculously, he would never be injured; whether you tossed him onto the hard concrete sidewalk, on top of a giant mutant spider, directly into a guard throwing spears, or into the river. But I was a 10 year-old boy, so I didn’t let the physical practicality or the Biblical incorrectness of the game bother me too much. But I did have a lot of fun repeatedly throwing baby Moses onto the sidewalk and watching him bounce, cry for a second, then instantly start smiling again. Needless to say, Bible Adventures did not receive the Nintendo Seal of Approval.

Since the day Jack was born, I have always been fearful that I will drop him; knowing that unlike the invincible Nintendo version of baby Moses, my son would not simply bounce and smile afterwards. So now that he is beginning to crawl, it means I carry him around less. Which means I worry less about dropping him, and more about him getting into all kinds of other troubles.

With good reason, I worry about him drowning, being run over by a car, getting electrocuted, choking, falling, getting attacked by a dog, or maybe even getting swooped up by a long-lost pterodactyl. It even scares me to type my fears aloud, even if the last one was a joke.

I am the Papa Bear. I will do whatever it takes to protect Mama Bear and Baby Bear. Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

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