30 July 2012

The Pathology of Overprotectiveness

I had an opportunity to observe an overprotective parent in action the other day.  I was supposed to meet up with some friends, but when I arrived at their house, only their dad was home.  He was upset that they had not cleaned the house, and so he grumbled to me how his kids were terrible, and how he just wanted to kick them out.  Fifteen minutes later, his son arrived back home.  He had checked the mail, and was in the process of opening a letter when he walked through the door.  It was a college acceptance letter for a college in the next state.  He told his dad the good news, and his dad replied by saying that it wasn’t a good idea for him to move so far away because life would be difficult for him.  It appears that dad’s lament of fifteen minutes earlier had been forgotten in the prospect of his son leaving him voluntarily.

At any rate, it struck at that moment in time just how horrific the pathology of overprotectiveness truly is.  It starts when parents coddle their children.  They seek to protect from all the ills of life, whether that be injury, risk, or deprivation.  Quite simply, overprotective parents actively prevent their children from engaging in behaviors that could have negative outcomes, like exploring nature, or working hard, or occasionally even doing chores.  Their children know neither risk nor responsibility, and grow up soft and unfocused.  This, of course, makes their children ill-equipped for functioning as adults in society, because their children simply have no idea to be adults, thanks to overprotective parents.  Weirdly, though, the parents do not like their children because their children remain dependent on them even after their children are well into the chronological age of maturity.  Unfortunately for the parents, this is a hell of their own making.  Instead of raising their children to eventually become independent, they raise their children to rely on them as crutches.

In a broader sense, the nanny state is the same way.  Those who rule see people who are oppressed and downtrodden, and attempt to help them.  Unfortunately, this desire to help is quite addictive, and so the state can never reduce or cut back on the help it offers; it must, instead, perpetually grow.  In so doing, the state encourages people to rely on it for help.  These people become dependent, weak, and lazy.  The rulers, though, become disgusted with the very people they tried to protect.  They view them as lazy parasites, incapable of taking care of themselves, and wholly reliant on the state for help.  Oftentimes, they are correct.  But this dependence is disgusting because it is unnatural. The people who received state funds are viewed with contempt, and looked down upon, as if they are puppies to take care because they are so weak and helpless on their own.

Ultimately, this overprotectiveness is a corruption of love.  There is a natural desire to help others, to do what’s best for others, to act in the best interest of one’s children.  However, this natural desire is untrained and often imprecise, and may even lack foresight.  Thus, say, a parent may genuinely desire to do what’s right for his children, but is otherwise incapable of actually doing so because he relies on his untrained emotions and is otherwise incapable of seeing how his desire to make his kids happy in the short-term will lead to him hating them later. He feels, but he does not think.  His emotion is unmoderated by contemplation, and so his actions and words are like his feelings:  inconsistent, dynamic, and subject to change without notice.  And, that is why, on the one hand, a man can curse his children for being lazy and then, not even a quarter of an hour later, send his son on a guilt trip for the crime of considering the possibility of moving to a different state.

The overprotective agent, whether that is a parent or a state, is one who unwittingly creates a monster and then is disgusted when confronted by it.  The overprotective parent is too consumed with his own perspective and concerns to realize the damage that is done until it is too late.  Like a manic-depressive, then, the overprotective parent flits increasingly faster back-and-forth between the extremes of revulsion and pity, and acts accordingly depending on how he feels at the time.  As time goes on, it becomes increasingly obvious that the parent must let the child go free; however, as time goes on, it becomes harder and harder for the parent to actually do so.

First, they make you dependent and weak.  Then, they hate you for being dependent and weak.  Next, they protect you for being dependent and weak, which makes you even more dependent and weak, which they hate you for even more, and so on ad infinitum.  And thus is the pathology of overprotectiveness.


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