Commercials and posters flood our daily lives by projecting images of helpless children who are in desperate need. Many people are aware of the children living in poverty, orphans, and abusive households. The media portrays neglected children who suffer from malnutrition, starvation, and the absence of love. In return, the advertised organization seeks for a small contribution of a dollar a day to help make a child’s life better. However, what about the child who endures the exact opposite of neglect? Less attention is veered towards the silent abuse of parents who control their child to the extreme that they are actually hindering their development and performance by not allowing their child to grow and experience life healthily. Does a child who is overly cared for and overly protected by their extremely overprotective parent still possess a better life than the child who is neglected? Or is the overprotected child just as helpless as the neglected?
The children today are the future and faces of tomorrow. A child’s future is greatly influenced by his or her parents. A parent who is abusive restricts a child from possessing a healthy lifestyle and developing healthy relationships with other individuals. However, a parent who is over controlling will limit a child from developing essential skills necessary to govern and direct their own life in a positive and healthy manner. Yet many fail to acknowledge this and assume that parents are just being loving and caring; emotions that all parents and guardians are expected to express. Therefore, many people do not listen to these children and believes that their problems are not as severe as the children who suffer from physical or verbal abuse. This is significant to human development because many children suffer from the limitations their overprotective parents impose and do not have access to the same amount of help and assistant as children with abusive parents.
Through my research, I hope to raise public awareness of this silent abuse. Most importantly, I hope to reach out to parents who are over controlling, as well as abusive, and have them place their child’s interests before their own. If a parent, who is over protective of their child, cares about their child deeply, then they should care more about their child’s wellbeing rather than their own personal desires and expectations of their child.
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Parents who overprotect their child to the extreme can prevent their child from acquiring the basic fundamental skills of life. As a result, the child can become emotionally handicap and rely on his or her parent throughout their life. As stated by Cossentino, “children in this situation are not able to develop a knowledge of independence and remains bound to the parent while the parent is bound in a cycle of overprotection” (The Overprotected Child). This dangerous cycle leaves the child and parent bonded together in such a way that it is unhealthy for both members. The child relies on their parent immensely that the parent is responsible to attend to every single matter of the child’s life; from basic chores, resolving a conflict, to communicating with acquaintances of the child. This often stifles the growth and development of a child, who cannot live without authority. Thus, the parent cannot leave this cycle because the parent raised the child in this manner.
“Children lack a knowledge of resolving conflicts and have a high chance of being rejected by their peers due to low confidence and an inability to stand up for oneself” (Cossentino). With parents always protecting them, the child will never be aware of how to stand up for oneself and is unable to confront the realities of life. These children have the inability to be very social among others besides their own parents, which causes them to develop a low self-esteem as well as low self-confidence.
The inability to make decisions on his or her own can cause a child to be unprepared for the future and is unable to live without a parent or authority figure. As stated by Cossentino, “children will lack life-experiences of decision making, life skills, age appropriate freedom, and conflict resolution”. An overprotected child becomes bound to a parent in a way that is similar to how a baby is bounded to its mother for the rest of its life. The child is completely unprepared for freedom and responsibility, finding it hard to exercise self-discipline and is more vulnerable to getting emotionally hurt.
As argued by Guthrie and Matthews, “Overprotecting parents can lead children to develop Peter Pan Syndrome” (No More Push Parenting, 44). The ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’ affects people who do not want or feel unable to grow up. In other words, people with the body of an adult but the mind of a child. Peter Pan was a fictional character who refused to grow up and had a never-ending childhood. Those with this syndrome do not know how or do not even want to stop being children and start being adults. These people are unable to grow up and take on adult responsibilities; they see the adult world as very problematic and glorify being a child, which is why they want to stay in that state of privilege.
Children who have been neglected on the other hand are in complete control of their life and are forced to survive on their own. Neglected children do not have an authority figure and may be more likely to replace the unknown feeling of love with hate and anger. “Children tend to try and please their parents to gain affection. However, when they cannot please their parents, they become filled with rage and take their anger out destructively” (Nguyen). The violence neglected children seek for may be towards other individuals or other substances, but for some, they seek to hurt themselves. “Children repress rage only to become depressed and suicidal” (Watkins, A3). These children possess a great amount of emotion built up inside them that it becomes unbearable and hard to deal with. Thus, they try to fill the void of love in their life with other things or someone’s acceptance. As Andron stated, “Children with low self-esteem search for someone’s acceptance, which usually winds down a damaging path eventually set up for death or become life-threatening” (23). More than likely, they fall under peer pressure or experiment with drugs and alcohol, anything to make them feel accepted. Because they lack a knowledge of what is normal or who to trust, they are more vulnerable to perpetrators and are often abused by their peers.
One form of violence an individual may express is through school. For example, the University of Texas massacre in Austin left 18 dead while the Columbine High School took a death toll of fifteen, and the highest toll of thirty-three lives was the Virginia Tech massacre (Watkins, A3). When an individual commits a crime, he or she is questioned for the reason of their action. However, few people turn to the parents or even glance at the child’s home life. “Children turn to destructive manners for coping as a way to test if their parents really care for them or not” (Nguyen). By hurting oneself, an individual tests the love of a parent, or to see if anyone else bothers to really care.
Many parents are incapable of seeing the damaging effects of placing their own needs before their child’s. They fail to see the atmosphere and living situation they created and forced their child to endure. Most importantly, they fail to treat and raise their child healthily. By overprotecting to the extreme, a parent not only shields a child from pain, but also robs the child of their adulthood by keeping them from developing friendships, intimate relationships, and independent skills along their journey of life. Thus, through neglect, a child is forced to learn how to survive through life on their own without the protection of a parent, without the love and guidance a parent has to offer, and without the comfort of a real family. Therefore, what is worse: overprotection or abandonment?
By listening to the personal stories of my volunteered subjects, I hope to obtain data that reflects whether or not both children, who are on opposite ends of the spectrum, share the same difficulties. The individuals I will choose will be children and their parents who reside in Cambodia.
Cambodia is a poverty-stricken country and the home to many neglected children who roam the streets begging for food. Sadly, because of this, it will not be difficult to find a neglected child to speak with. The difficulty will be trying to find the parent or guardian of the neglected child and persuading him or her to share their own personal story.
In addition, families who are wealthy have higher expectations for their children and try to mold their child into what they want by controlling every aspect of their child’s life. Because of this, I will listen to the stories of a child is in a more well-off family and his or her parent’s story .