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The Two Biggest Mistakes Parents Make - And They Don't Even Realize It

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What are the most dangerous trends or practices in parenting that most parents do without noticing or realizing? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Cherry Chen, human and writer, on Quora:

The most dangerous parenting practice that parents don't realize they are doing is overprotecting them.

Back in high school, I never understood why my mom had to control my life so much. She didn't let me hang out with friends unless it was for a short time; I couldn't ride the subway because it was "too dirty"; I couldn't take cabs because "taxi drivers are evil and will kidnap me" along with other outrageous excuses to keep me at home so I could "study more."

I have a theory that if you overprotect children, they will either:

1. Become crazy by breaking rules and covering up their paths up in every cunning way possible

2. Become extremely shy, obedient, and passive.

I leaned more towards the passive side (although I was really a bit of both). I struggled with speaking up and being myself in public for most of my life and just didn't know how to form human relationships properly.

Since I grew up with my parents disparaging most things I told them, I learned to hide myself. I hid my the poetry I wrote to keep myself sane, the diaries flecked with ex-crushes and repressed emotions, the songs I listened to to calm myself.

I hid my problems, so I hid my ability to show vulnerability or connect with people on a deeper level.

This ties into the second mistake parents shouldn't make: Judging.

I couldn't share my life with them because they judged me; they couldn't understand why I'd ever feel depressed, or lonely, or frustrated.

Can't make more friends?

Dad (delves into his classic furrowed-brows expression): Why not? Just talk to more people, you know, get along with everyone! You have to be more outgoing!

Mom: You don't need friends. You have me and your dog.

Depressed, or a bit sad sometimes?

Dad: Being a student is the best part of your life - what could you ever be sad about? (more furrowed eyebrows).

I couldn't really tell them my troubles or anything that might make them worried like taking the subway and having fun with friends singing or whatnot.

As a result, I became a very private, closed-in person. I changed a bit in college, but it took so much more effort to finally get to the stage I'm at today, and even now, I have a propensity to start hiding myself and being passive again even though that's not my true personality.

During my senior year of high school, I actually asked my mom, "Why do you control me so much when I'm going to college soon and you can't control me at all then?", "Because at least I can still control you now."


I understand that it's difficult for parents to let go, especially moms like mine who have been housewives for most of their working lives. She grew up with me - it must be hard to grasp the idea that your cute little baby daughter who you used to dress up in princess outfits and braids just a few years ago has suddenly become this obnoxious teenager who comes home and won't interact with you.

But think about your children.

Remember that they are their own individuals with their own lives and shielding them from the "real world" won't really do them any good because they have to get "out there" eventually.

I had to eventually deal with these problems on my own and am still facing them now; how to study effectively, build (intimate) human relationships, deal with stress, etc.

My point is, don't make your children's lives so hard. Don't overprotect and don't judge - they'll thank you later.

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