During my college days, I had a friend named Beth. Beth was an introvert, solely focused on her studies, lived amongst the delusional world of non-freedom and begged for an escape internally. She was never one to have cravings for wild parties, roadside hangouts and stay out till after midnight or even when dusk sets in; ringing the bells of incoming pitch darkness that would shadow over the world soon. The Beth I know and am friends with now, years after we have graduated with flying grades are poles apart than that of the past. Beth now, lives freely.
When I met Beth during our first week of a nerve-wracking and frustrating journey that prolonged for about four years with cups of coffee stacking up – to enduring migraine episodes every other week, she seemed sweet and down-to-earth. Everybody was close to her and vice versa, nonetheless she always had a fictitious protective shield held up against the world. Nobody could break through that shell and at some point, we didn’t want to either. However, besides the entire goody two shoes attitude she rolled up, she had also been depressed for a longer time, without anybody’s conviction and inquiry on it. She was a mystery to all but the solution seemed haywire. Some days, she was as giddy as a horse running on all fours in a field that stretched for miles, the rest – she seemed and felt numb.
One winter morning, on our third year of college, Beth had finally begun sharing her inner distortions to me which ripped her out of her self-worth. I was dumbfounded, intrigued and terrified but the latter feeling was emitted for her. She was sorry to me initially for rambling on about her story, embarrassed as uncountable tears rolled down her cheeks, her hands shook from anxiety and her breathing became ragged by the minute. All the time lapses when I was skeptical about why Beth was a no-show in every hangout, excused herself out of every occasion, lied about having to run errands, sulked at every plan we made for trips or reflexively deny going out for lunch plans in between classes; were replaced in my cognition with a new found demoralizing impotency.
Beth was born in an overprotective household, where every meticulous detail was reported, acknowledged and either approved or disapproved by her parents. This was her whole life in a singular sentence and as her red cheeks were swollen from crying, I realized she had no practical life; rather she just had a routine to pull through ever since she put away childish things, ever since she was growing up and took up lessons on how to behave, perfect her manners and polish built-in etiquette. Her parents have never been inclined towards recreational activities or any of its aspects. Delusional and preoccupied fear and love for their child had actually broken their offspring, who was now; irrevocably doomed with depression, loneliness and fascinations about suicide and vamoosing clouded her mind.
As I sit now, years after our graduation across Beth; sipping each others’ piping hot coffee, I ask her again, “Do you miss them?”
She shrugs nonchalantly and chirps in, “Sometimes. But my happiness and peace is worth a lot more. I have finally found freedom. I’m finally alive and not within the grips of hell masked as protection, dominance, mental abuse, insecurity and love.”
As a friend and sane human, I can only empathize with her however; Beth’s condition led me to know more about children with overprotective parents. These children are usually the most isolated and turn out to have the highest ratings of mental health issues. These children suffer from lack of interest in every chore they do, in every interaction they face and in every form of physical or social activity.
Research shows that they are more prone to having long term depression, which in turn affects their mood, health and temperament. Along with feeling entitled at all times, they also feel obliged and petrified of their parents before committing each trivial step, word, task or movement. They suffer from adversity of consequences and punishment. The truancy of minor elements of happiness in life – whichever form it maybe, also drowns them into having emotional instability. Such insecure parents actually rear up children with the lowest self esteem and regulatory skills; for instance whereas an eighteen year old could walk the streets on their own at scorching daylight, a victim of squeamish parents will be nervous and lack confidence in doing a simple task as such.
These children at one point ejaculate their built up rage in various forms of rebellious acts. Either that; or they grow up to be like their sleazy parents undesirably with no reverting, which infuriates them even more causing self loathing. These children who have micro units of ideas about the world and how it works, will most definitely be left alone at some point in life and that terrifies them as they were only trained to make decisions and operate according to their parents’ likes/dislikes, needs and wants, hence these parents actually render to creating incapable adults. There’s always a sense of toxicity subconsciously controlling their inner struggles, emotions and personality.
All parents are distressed and paranoid till some extent about their offspring but cases like that of Beth brings in doomsday for many when such paranoia defines them. Patronizing parents must have accurate notions that accidents and incidents occur every second of every day in every corner of the world. A spill on the bathroom floor causing a child to slip and get a concussion, school shooting taking multiple innocent lives, road accidents causing disability of any form, a fall on the school grounds while playing, a jab in the kidney while kids play or stepping on a Lego. Incidents as such don’t only engulf children but also adults. In a world full of rapists, sexists, stereotypes, thieves, robbery and illegal gun owners, who is really safe?
No child ever would nose dive into mistakes or rogue paths willingly, only if they are brought up right. Now, the question dangles; if these parents are so overwhelmed and preoccupied with their own wobbly insecurities and pessimism that they can’t encompass how to navigate it and let it manipulate them and their children’s happiness – are they solicitous about their child or are they just cynical about their upbringing?