Many older adults say that today’s children are spoiled. While it is true that we parents are now giving our children far more material possessions and commercial entertainment than most of us received, the greater harm to our children’s development is that we tend to foster their dependence upon us. Not only do we excessively provide to our children the most positive experiences, we also tend to shield them from negative experiences—more so than previous generations of parents have done. This includes protecting the child from contentious peers, demanding teachers, and failure of various types.
Our desire to provide the very best life possible for the child leads us to overprotect, which has quite the opposite result. A child who is never tasked to cope with these unpleasant experiences of life never develops the coping skills that he or she will need as an adult. So, why should we be surprised that so very many young adults are now living lifestyles of utter dependence upon parents? Many of them are residing with their parents because they experienced difficulties in college, cannot find and maintain employment, have divorced, have become dependent upon drugs, or are generally anxious or depressed.
God tasks parents to prepare their children for coping with the stress of this world as they seek the bliss of eternal life. Trying to prevent a child from ever experiencing disappointment, betrayal, unkindness, or failure merely postpones the inevitable. Postponing those experiences only cements the child’s belief that this world is filled with nothing but fun, success, and people eager to praise them and dote on them. The longer this belief builds, the harder it will be for the older child (or young adult) to accept reality and build skills for coping with it. As parents, we must be judicious in allowing our children to have some unpleasant experiences while we protect them from the most distressing ones until their coping skills have developed.
-Dr. Thomas Maple
Dr. Maple is an Alabama-licensed psychologist and the founder of Crosswalk Psychological Services, LLC. His clinical background includes work in private practice and in university clinics and he specializes in providing faith-based services online. To explore opportunities for you and/or your child to engage in CrossWalk faith-based psychotherapy services online, visit www.crosswalknow.com, call 334-744-3694 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.