The Sunday Times says

When 'loving lions' don't inspire pride

The methods employed by "loving lions" not only created stress for themselves, it was in various ways transmitted to their children as well.
The methods employed by "loving lions" not only created stress for themselves, it was in various ways transmitted to their children as well. PHOTO: ST FILE

Scathing critiques of hyper protective styles of parenting appeared decades ago in the West. These were dubbed hothouse, invasive or death-grip parenting. Here, those exhibiting such traits are diplomatically called "loving lions" by Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) researchers. These parents, after all, care intensely about their children's well-being - never mind the lengths to which they go to steer their children's lives.

Overparenting by any name can hardly be good for kids who want to explore the world on their own terms. And it would certainly not augur well for the future to have "a nation of wimps", as feared by psychologist Hara Estroff Marano, if mollycoddled children - whose nervous systems are said to "literally shrink" from overprotection - grow up to become risk-averse and dependent.

The IPS study found that almost all of the 1,500 parents it polled said they just wanted to create a happy environment for their children and not make good grades an obsession. But in reality, academic results did matter highly to a proportion of "old school" parents. Worse, the methods employed by these "loving lions" not only created stress for themselves, it was in various ways transmitted to their children as well.

Only a third of Singapore parents showed they were more hands-off and not overly concerned about high scores in school. They valued holistic learning, character building and opportunities for their children to pursue their own passions, rather than the unfulfilled ambitions of a father or mother. The benefits of "new school" forms of parenting are manifold: the young are more likely to become robust and resourceful learners, self-motivation could lead to mastery of a subject, a wider set of interests tends to develop, and a genuine sense of self is often evident. Will more apply this approach when raising a child? That will depend on how society raises the parent.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 10, 2017, with the headline 'When 'loving lions' don't inspire pride'. Print Edition | Subscribe