How to avoid being over-protective of your children

I feel the opposite of over-protection can be independence, which can be instilled. I suggest the following:

Let children settle most matters when they quarrel. However, if one calls out for "Dad," then I immediately intervene to settle the matter.- Let older children assist smaller children. This applies to teenagers helping each other also.

Exemplify love in all things - work, play, Church, etc. By so doing, the children observe how they can be independent and exhibit love in their words and actions.

Ask for children's opinions. Listen and thank them for their thoughts.

Pray frequently for the children to develop independence.

Provide opportunities that encourage independence. Trust in the children when they undertake an opportunity.

Encourage individuality.

Teach cooperation.

Help children be selective of their friends so the children, with their standards, can be held in high esteem by those of like level.

Go to all the events, games, recitals, talks, activities, etc., in which your children are involved so they know you are supporting them to do their best. Praise them regardless.

Encourage them to be responsible. Teach them to work. These areas lead them away from dependence. - Arden Roney, Newport Beach, Calif.

Teach them, trust them

You can't watch your children every minute of the day. Therefore, you have to teach them specific things to be wary of. For example, you can teach children such things as what is unacceptable behavior by relatives, friends or strangers.

A lot depends on the child. We need to remember that some children are outgoing and aggressive; some are shy and careful in what they do. Trust them to do the things you've taught them. After you teach them these things, you should trust them to remember them and to practice them. - Jiro Shimoda, Taylor, Mich.

Right attitude

Parents must want to rear children to be responsible adults; it takes the right attitude. In every way, encourage self-reliance and independence.

Fostering independence should begin when the children are young. For example, many times we've seen a child fall, he wonders if he's hurt, he decides he's OK and does not cry. Meanwhile the mother comes rushing in, over-protectively assuming the worst; then the child decides he must be hurt so he cries. What is that mother teaching? Dependence!

Over and over we see parents with adult children at home living off of them, able adult children who could be supporting themselves. Remember, even if dependence is "cute" when the child is a toddler, it's not cute when he or she is 25, 30 or 40. - Jan and Clarence Dickson, Hawthorne, Calif.

Can't follow every footstep

When we have done all we can do to ensure the protection and well-being of our children, we then must trust in the Lord to watch over and protect them in our absence. I strongly believe that one would have to go very far to be over-protective. We, as parents, have been given the honor and obligation to teach our children. The world would have us abdicate that responsibility, and encourages us to have our children in the care of others from their earliest days. When some of us choose not to use these services others provide in our not easy undertaking of rearing safe, secure and spiritually nurtured children, we are labeled as "over-protective."

Of course, we can't follow a child's every footstep. As children grow, our watchcare becomes no less constant, but must in its nature preserve and acknowledge the child's growing independence. - Deb Alatalo, Penticton, British Columbia

Hard to hold back tears

All of us love our children very much. When our Heavenly Father sent us down to earth He did not say we would have to hold His hand the whole time. In fact, He opposed such a plan. What He did do, however, is give us directions via the scriptures and living prophets as to how we can safely live and return to Him again. In dealing with my own children, I try to think of this example, along with the wisdom given us by Joseph Smith to teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves.

Our children need to be taught at an early age what is prudent and safe to do, along with the gospel principles we expect them to follow. These can be reinforced through home evenings, family discussions, and especially those quiet one-on-one times. Once we have taught these things, children need to be given opportunities to practice the age-appropriate principles that have been taught them thus far.

From toddlers to teenagers, it is important they are given the freedom to practice what they have been taught. - Maryelen H. Brown, Pleasant Valley, N.Y.

Faith in Lord

Educate yourself about the world and the things of the world. Then educate your children for or against those things. Be aware of the news and current events in the world. Understand what is happening in the schools. Be aware of your children's playmates. Get to know the families of your children's friends.

Have faith that your children will follow what they've been taught. Have confidence in your children. The first time I let my child go around the block on his bicycle, I was so worried. I taught him pedestrian rules; then I had to let him go.

Then I worry, even when they are older.

Have faith in the Lord. You can know He's beside you waiting for your children to come home. - Nancy Mills, Battle Mountain, Nev.

Always pray

When we turn our children loose, if they are properly taught, we can be assured that they understand the difference between right and wrong.

Young people should know the consequences of sin and how to govern themselves. For example, they should be taught that their bodies are temples and that Heavenly Father expects them to choose the right things. To help us teach our children, the Church provides good resources, such as the "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet. This pamphlet has all kinds of ideas as to what's expected in dating and dress standards and Church attendance. Young people need to know how to establish rules for themselves, such as when they are getting close to marriage, how much should they be alone together. If children are taught how to govern themselves, then we, as parents, may be less prone to be overprotective.

Above all, youth and children need our faith and prayers. We may not always be able to be with them, but we can always pray for them. - Noal Messick, Shelley, Idaho

How to checklist:

1 Pray for your children; then trust in the Lord.

2 Teach children the gospel; start when they're young.

3 Instill responsibility; let children govern themselves.

4 Have faith, confidence in your children; then let go.


Aug. 27 "How to help your children develop good study habits."

Sept. 3 "How to recognize and overcome jealousy."

Sept. 10 "How to deal with unruly children in a home or Church setting."

Sept. 17 "How to encourage discussion during family home evening."

Sept. 24 "How to overcome challenges in your marriage relationship."

Oct. 1 "How to help children learn to follow the counsel of Church leaders."

Oct. 15 "How to avoid making fun of others."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, or send fax to (801) 237-2121. Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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