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Mark Goulston, M.D. Headshot

Independence Poison -- Coming Soon to a Child Near You

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Alamy
Alamy
hov·er·cod·dle [huhv-er kod-l]
verb (used with object), hovercod·dled, hovercod·dling.
  1. To intrude upon a child's space and stifle their developing a capacity for independent thinking, thinking on their feet, and problem-solving
  2. To baby a child that is not a baby, and to bail them out from having to take responsibility for and face the consequences of their actions, thereby disabling them from a successful, happy or fulfilling life

Something to keep in mind is that at the same exact moment you hovercoddle your child, there are probably at least 10 million children their same age dealing with a situation on their own and/or facing the consequences of their actions and becoming stronger, more resourceful and learning from it to become more independent and self-reliant. And 20 years from now, that child will be your child's boss and they are not going to hover (unless they're a micromanager -- the topic of another blog) nor bail your child out. Instead, they will fire them.

Seven signs in an adult that has been hovecoddled as a child:

  1. When something goes wrong they rant and rave and tantrum or sulk and become sullen until someone steps in to fix it
  2. They draw a blank from anything that is six degrees of separation from their comfort zone
  3. They have great difficulty thinking on their own in novel situations
  4. They have relationship problems and will often threaten to break up or get a divorce if they are upset
  5. They act entitled
  6. They are high-maintenance (i.e., easy to upset, difficult to please)
  7. They are often put on anti-depressants when their real issue is an underlying personality problem

Sometimes the only way for this child to break free of this is by rebelling, which will often dumbfound, upset and anger the parent who views them as a "rebel without a cause." The fact is that such a child does have a cause and if you are that parent, you will discover that cause in the mirror.