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Over protective or too lenient parenting

Over protective or too lenient parenting

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There is a spectrum of parenting styles and at either end we have the polarities of ‘over-protective’ versus ‘hands-off’. Both these styles have their strengths and weaknesses and it can be possible to pick and mix from each one in order to create an approach to parenting that is flexible and responsive to each situation, rather than rigid and set in its ways.

Own childhood

The way you parent will almost inevitably come partly from your own experiences of being parented and cared for in your early years. It can be really helpful to reflect on what was good about your early experiences and what was not good. In doing this you will become more conscious of what patterns you would like to avoid repeating and what parenting styles you would like to bring in from your own experiences.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the wood for the trees, so it might be helpful to talk it through with a partner, good friend or therapist, so that you can obtain an objective perspective and have some support to be with difficult memories or feelings.

The way we were brought up impacts us very strongly in terms of how we related to others and in some ways there are no stronger triggers to push our buttons than becoming parents ourselves.


With over protective parenting, it can be common that parents find it hard to let a child be themselves and take risks. There may be sense of finding it hard to bear it if a child has difficult experiences or comes up against painful emotions. There is often a feeling from overprotective parents, of not wanting their children to feel anything other than safe and happy and whilst the intention behind this is admirable, the reality is that being alive on this earth brings with it a certain amount of pain and suffering that is inevitable.

Young Minds is a mental health charity that works with youngsters and their definition of good mental health is where a young person is both able to ‘celebrate their successes and cope with the normal stresses of life’. This calls for a certain amount of resilience in children and an ability to get back up again if they get knocked down by something in life.

Over protective or too lenient parenting

Self belief

In order to foster an ability in their children to believe in themselves, it is important for parents to give their kids a message that they trust in them and that it is normal for things in life to impact them. Understandably this can be very challenging for parents! It will mean managing your own anxiety and fears rather than trying to control every single situation.

On the other hand, it is also essential that children feel a strong sense of security in their early years and that they have an experience of consistency and stability in the way that they are raised. If parents choose to bring their children up to be very independent and operate a very free and ‘hands-off’ approach that is taken to the extreme, children can be forced to grow up too quickly and will have to over-ride their sense of dependence and neediness. Whilst trusting a child to make their way in the world is great, this can only genuinely develop out of a strong feeling of being rooted and supported.

What suits you

Like everything in life, there are pro’s and con’s and all of us will have tendencies towards a particular bent of parenting. Be easy on yourself as you explore which style you sit with more and see if you can imagine shifting a few degree’s the other way if you identify that you may be a little rigid in the way you relate to your kids.




About Jenny Smith

About Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith is a freelance writer and facilitator specialising in mental health, well-being and ecotherapy. She writes for National Mind and The Working Parent and facilitates training in the Work that Reconnects and Ecotherapy. She is inspired by nature, gardening, love and non-duality teachings

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