Being a mother hen
But what does it mean exactly to be a mother hen? If you designate yourself as a mother hen, chances are you see this side of you in a positive way, as revealed by Solène Bourque, psycho-educator. This way to call yourself is a cute way to really say you have a protective side that you are proud of and which makes you want to protect your child from the big and small dangers of life. But if others are calling you a mother hen, it might be their way to tell you that you are more overprotective rather than protective.
The dangers of overprotecting your child
Solène reminds us that while protecting a child is a parent’s first role so that we can adequately provide the essential security and reassurance to our child, being overprotective can definitely have a negative impact on their autonomy. Wanting him to avoid all the potential hurts and difficulties make it so our child is somewhat less well prepared for the outside world. It’s important to remember that sooner or later, whether in daycare, at school, at home or even at work when they grow up, all children eventually face difficulties and if parents have always stepped in, they will never learn how to deal with them.
How to draw the line?
Being a mother hen, when done without excess, can also mean ensuring emotional and physical security to your child. Solène suggests you evaluate where you draw the line between protection and overprotection according to your own criteria since they can change from family to family. The important thing is that everyone is happy and free to explore life with independence and the right support.
Why did you become a mother hen?
Being overprotective can be seen in a negative way, but all it really means is that we want to avoid our children being hurt or scared. Perhaps you’ve always just been a little bit more worried by nature, or perhaps a particular event or situation like an illness, a learning disability or even an accident that occurred when you were a child caused this over-protectiveness. But what can you do to reassure those inner fears and change your reactions towards your child?
Learn to let go
If you constantly feel like you are the only one able to meet the needs of your child, it can be very rewarding in the short term but may become a heavy burden to carry in the long term. Solène suggest you learn to let go slowly. You can start by giving yourself small daily challenges like leaving your spouse or another adult take care of your child. Take time to observe him when he plays too: you’ll be able to really see his strength and abilities. Remember that a child you trust is one who will develop his autonomy easier. So don’t hesitate to tell him he can do it as often as possible: you will make him proud, and you’ll be just as proud yourself!