Stuck on Band-aid parenting?

Written by: Lianne Castelino

Published: Sep 7, 2011

This week likely more than any other in the calendar year, many parents will be tested to the enth degree.    Whether you’ve got a child off to university in a new city, a little one beginning their academic career in kindergarten or a child heading to any other grade, the start of another school year brings with it an inevitable amount of anxiety for parent and child.

The tendency for parents, these days especially, is to be armed with a healthy helping of band-aids to smooth over even the most difficult of transitions — not just scrapes and cuts.

You know swooping in at a second’s notice to make everything better.  It leaves one with a warm, gushy glow to be able to relieve their child’s pain or anxiety — but is that really wise?

Does band-aid parenting do more harm than good?

It’s hard to be patient — especially in a world of instant results, instant gratification and instant feedback.   So the idea of a ‘challenging’ new teacher, a personality disconnect with students in a class, ‘not-what-I-expected roomates’ or whatever the case may be tends to scream — “help me mom and dad”.  In other words, springing into instant action whether your child is asking for it, and whether or not the situation merits parental involvement.

Parents from generations gone by never really had the benefit of endless heaps of expert advice from ‘foreign sources’ ie. outside their families or neighbours.

Their children had to learn by falling, dusting themselves off and standing back up.  So why does this generation of parents tend to air on the side of caution at all expense?

Bubble-wrapping kids is increasingly leading to disturbing consequences.  Depression and an inability to cope being chief among them.  I’ve even heard of parents taking university profs to task about the marks their kids are getting and even making excuses for why their kids failed to hand in an assignment on time, etc.  I thought it was a joke, but have since learned it’s happening more often than not.

Protecting a child, then overprotecting him or her leads to a dependence that can be stifling and most definitely unhealthy.

Those little band-aids are largely responsible.

There is a fine line between letting kids learn on their own, giving them the opportunity to figure things out if and when age-appropriate and letting them fall and get back up.  It is truly a tricky learning curve for parents who may often be left wondering and questioning their decision-making.

The alternative is far worse, in my opinion.  Doing things for them, not letting them figure things out and creating a sense of dependency that could spiral out of control.

With school now back in business for another year, it’s worth putting this thinking to the test.   Holding back rather than surging forward when a child seems to be facing a challenge may be a wise decision now that pays dividends later.




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