Overprotective Parenting and Mental Health

In a classic story in "Hinds Feet in High Places," two characters are in a journey. A Shepherd and one called "Much-Afraid."

Much-Afraid is perennially scared. So she pleads Shepherd to carry her.

Kindly, the Shepherd responds:

"I could carry you all the way up to the High Places my self, instead of leaving you to climb there. But if I did, you would never be able to develop hinds feet, and become my companion and go where I go."

Much-Afraid reflects the dilemma of 35-year-old Sharon, one of my clients. She saw me for months with her caregiving Mom who worried a lot about her mental state.

Sharon, since childhood, has been overprotected by her parents, who are overbearing and entirely too controlling.

"Helicopter parenting," as psychologists call it.

Everything is provided and done for her. Even with the slightest discomfort, Mom is in the rescue.

In school, Sharon was lazy. She'd rather have Mom do her assignments. Even beyond her 20s, she found her self feeling disabled to hold a job or a friendship.

Progressively, Sharon got worse. She had to be confined to hospital psych wards intermittently for chronic depression and manic episodes.

In my sessions with her, she once told me, "I don't want to go out. I just want home or be in the ward."

Sadly, Sharon got deeply stuck in an infantile state, child-type dependency.

"Prolonged immaturity," observed psychologist/author Dr. James Dobson, "is a frequent consequence of overprotective parenting."

Physically, Sharon is fit. She's also very conversational.

In fact, outside her long-lingering issues or wounds within, she appears capable of normal productivity.

Always, the way out is the same as the way in - internal programming from dependency to independency.

No drugs or cash on hand can give Sharon that.