Protecting people we love all the time or teaching them to protect themselves?


“I don’t want to take cash, can you transfer the money online to my account?” I asked a friend recently. “I will ask my dad to do it,” she replied. “Why not from your account?” I asked “No, my dad takes care of all my banking transactions, especially the online transactions.” “Why don’t you do it?” I could afford to ask her as I knew her and her dad for decades. “Dad does not want me to. He feels I will goof up in the online banking.” “Do you like that arrangement?” “No, I don’t but who will argue with dad?” At another time and place, this conversation ensued between a mother and her son. “Where are you going now?” “I am going to a friend’s home ma.” “Which friend is this?” “Nikita, my classmate”, you could see the antenna of the mother go up. “Okay, I will drop you at her place.” “Mom, I can go alone” “No, I don’t want you to go alone, I will drop you and wait outside, I promise not to come in. After you have finished talking to her, we can drive back.” “Mom, don’t embarrass me. If you come along like this, I will get teased.” “I don’t care what your friends think. I won’t allow you to go alone on the road and to a girl’s house like that.” This, to a budding teenager. Both the parents mean well at a level. But both of them are getting overprotective aren’t they? The dad does not want his daughter/son/spouse to handle any online transaction because he believes they will make errors. He has to be around them protecting them from their mistakes all the time. The mom too, believes if she allows her son to go alone, ‘anything may happen on the road or in the girl’s house’, so she must hang around for protection. Yes, we don’t want our loved ones to get hurt, make mistakes or fail at anything. That may be our desire which results in overprotective parents, spouses, friends or anyone else. Grown-up children too can get overprotective about their parents. How does it help the person being protected? They need to grow and learn. They need to make mistakes, lose money, things, and fail at something to actually learn to deal with the world. The protective person may not be there all the time then what will happen? Only if there is a great danger to life and limbs or the event is too risky to leave someone all to themselves should we hang around with our protection. I feel rather than going to a great extent to prevent any negative events in our loved ones' lives, we should teach them how to protect themselves. Teach the person who does not know online banking, how to do it safely, what precautions to take, watch them do it a couple of times in front of you and then set them free. Teach the son, how to behave, what is expected of him on the road, how to travel safely, and what not to do when visiting friends and then set him free. They will make mistakes and they will learn. The overprotected person does not feel good about the overprotection. They feel stifled, controlled and not trusted and that is never good for harmony in relationships, isn’t it?

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