SMOTHERING: How far is ‘too far’ for a mothers love?

Love is the most spectacular, indescribable, deep euphoric feeling for someone, something, or even someplace. There can never be one standard explanation to fully describe love. It’s simply beautiful. One of the most beautiful forms of it is through a mother’s love. Some may refer to this kind of love as storage love or familial love.  Whatever you decide to call it, we can all agree that it is the natural or instinctual affection a parent has and gives towards their child.

‘‘Be a mother who is committed to loving her children into standing on higher ground than the environment surrounding them. Mothers are endowed with a love that is unlike any other love  on the face of the earth.’’

                                              -MP Hinckley.

A mother’s love is primal, she sacrifices her own security when danger comes and will spare no one when the safety of her little ones is compromised. What about the benefits? They are abundant. Far too much for us to state them all in this article since it’s not the main focus for today. But we’ll get to that soon in our other many articles. We can sum all that up by saying that motherly love even if not biological is essential for a child’s growth and development emotionally, socially, mentally, and even physically, all throughout their lives.

But how far is too far? When does mothering turn to smother? First of all, let’s try and understand the concept of smothering.  Smother-love as some call it is a relationship between a parent and a child where the parent is over-protective over the child. All parents and guardians want to protect their children, no doubt. But caution has to be taken so as to avoid things from heading south. Believe it or not, but smothering a child has its quirks.

Smothering can result in the impairment of a child’s normal psychological development which in turn it will also affect their behavioral development. Parental involvement is not bad of course, but as a parent or guardian, one needs to set boundaries for their children and at the same time let them be aware that they can count on their parents’/guardians’ concern and caring.

The over-protective parent wants to protect their children from harm, hurt and pain, unhappiness, bad experiences and rejection, hurt feelings, failure, and disappointments by distancing their kids even from the most normal risks such as a scraped knee, without even giving the children reasons as to why they are not allowed to participate in some activities.

  • Without establishing boundaries, when the parent is constantly afraid of the many negatives that may happen to their child, the child also becomes afraid. If normal healthy risk-taking is discouraged by the guardian, the child may grow up to be a young adult who takes risks that have much higher consequences if things go wrong.
  • Children with over-protective parents are more likely to lie. Over-protectiveness may encourage frequent lying when the parents’ expectations are too high or unreasonable. The child will most likely lie in order to get out of or avoid getting in trouble. Eventually, the lying will develop and go from not only lying to the parents but to other people as well. The nature of the lies may also grow bigger.
  • In over-protective parenting, children experience a reward and punishment system according to their behavior. This can result in children growing up to be materialistic and manipulative adults. Right is not done simply because it is right, but for what it can benefit them.
  • Another important fact we must not forget, is the factor of parent-child communication. The parent/guardian may find it difficult to properly communicate with their children as they grow and mature, as the parents have always been focused on compliance rather than communication. This results in further distancing and lie telling from their children as they grow up.

Parenting is a full package. It has its ups and downs, sad and happy and beautiful and not so beautiful moments. I would be a liar to say it’s easy. Probably it’s safe to say that a huge percentage don’t have it all figured out as no one is perfect. Talk to other parents to learn more about parenting styles and experiences, have reasonable expectations for your child, explain in a calm manner to your child about wrongs and dangers rather than just pulling away from it, and also remember to react with reason when they do a wrong or hurt themselves.

It takes a village to raise a child. And as I said before, no matter how diverse parenting is, the results are usually fulfilling in the end. So try and enjoy it.

Percival Ashley

Percival is a budding writer and the co-founder of Femama Ventures a platform that seeks to celebrate and provide key information about relationships, business & entrepreneurship, and leadership to women.

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