Did/do any of you have overprotective parents?

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antisocial_butterfly

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#1
I have struggled with social anxiety for a while and I can’t help but to feel like my parents contributed to the problem when I was growing up. I think I’ve always been an introverted person, but it got worse in my teen years. I’m now 28, married, and I have 3 young children. My oldest child will be turning 4 in a couple months, and Ive tried my best to give him as much freedom and independence as I can (within reason of course). As a result, he is a VERY social, independent, and confident little boy.

When I was growing up, my parents were very restrictive. They liked to keep me in a bubble, because I guess they thought they were keeping me “safe”. I think what really impacted me the most was when I was in 7th grade. I became best friends with a girl who had a troubled home life. She was into many things that I wasn’t. She smoked cigarettes, drank alcohol, she had supposedly done things with boys, etc. Yet, my mom thought she was a bad influence for me and eventually, she put an end to the friendship. My grades started slipping that year and I came close to failing. There were also a couple other incidents that year. Like, I sometimes got in trouble for dress code because my shirt was too short or too low cut. There was another time when my school (it was a Christian school) was doing some charity work at a nursing home or something. Anyway, myself and another girl got bored and decided to walk off away from the group. We snuck off and walked around the block a time or two and then came back. We really didn’t even think anyone would notice we were gone. We weren’t gone long. But when we got back, everyone was looking for us and panicking because they didn’t know where we were. We got a long lecture from our teachers and our principal that day, our parents got called to the school, and I got suspended for a day. That was probably the worst thing I did that year at school.

But the thing that really sent my parent’s over the edge was when my best friend wanted me to meet a guy that she knew. This guy was 16, I was 13. This guy just so happened to be friends with my neighbor. So, we came up with this plan that the guy would go to my neighbor’s house to visit, and then when he was done, he would just stop by my house and we could talk for a few minutes. So, as planned, my friend tells me that he’s on his way to see my neighbor. And I sit outside on the porch, waiting for him to stop by. I see him leaving my neighbor’s house, and he then pulls up in front of my house and stops. He doesn’t get out, he doesn’t pull into our driveway or anything. He just stops in the road and motions for me to come over. So, I come by his car and I just stand there and talk to him for a little bit, maybe 20 or so minutes. The whole time, he stays inside of his car and I stay standing next to him. After a while, my parents look out the window and see what’s going on. We eventually notice that they’re standing there glaring at us, and decide that he had better go.

It had majorly freaked them out that I was talking to a 16 year old. Now, as an adult with my own children, I can understand it to some degree. I wouldn’t happy about a 16 year old showing interest in my 13 year old either. However, they seemed to bothered just as much, or maybe even more, by the fact that this guy was African American (I’m white). This is something I still don’t understand. I don’t see how someone’s skin color determines what type of person they are. They couldn’t give me any logical reason why a person’s skin color matters, all they could do was come up with a bunch of stereotypes.

Following this incident, they told me that I was never allowed to see the guy or my best friend ever again, and they made sure that it wouldn’t happen. They took the phone out of my room, they took away internet access, I wasn’t even allowed to be home alone. They also started homeschooling me right after that, and I homeschooled for the next 4 years. Basically, for several years of my life, I had no social interaction with other kids at all. I was in isolation. About a year after this incident, they did decide to slowly start giving some privileges back. Like, my mom told me I could call a friend on the phone, but it couldn’t be the girl that I had been best friends with in school. I was never allowed to talk to that particular girl ever again. So, I called up a couple of girls that I had previously went to school with but it was kind of awkward since we didn’t go to school together anymore and hadn’t talked in so long. It felt like we didn’t have as much in common anymore. So, that whole thing didn’t last long.

They decided to let me go back to a regular school for my senior year of high school, and it was extremely difficult for me. If I had to speak in front of the class, I’d usually take a zero rather than do that. At lunch time, I’d sometimes have social anxiety eating in front of people. Pretty mich any kind of social activity was torture for me and I avoided it if at all possible.

As an adult, I still struggle. I am finally going back to college this fall but for a long time, I put it off because I was terrified of having to interact with others. I can’t change how my parents handled things back then. And honestly, I don’t think they had bad intentions. They’ve always been very paranoid and fearful people. They think the world is a dangerous and scary place, and the only way they could “protect” me was by sheltering me. They claim that the only reason I wasn’t doing drugs or drinking or doing worse things was because they “protected” me. But no, unless you physically tie your kid down, you can’t fully control what they do and you can’t have your eyes on them 24 hours a day. I could have snuck out of the house, I could have done things behind their back. If I was really that horrible and rebellious, I would have found a way, and I wouldn’t have cared about the consequences. I wasn’t perfect (what 13 year old is?) what I feel like they completely overreacted. Isolating me from human civilization for a number of years wasn’t the answer. That wouldn’t be healthy for any human being, let alone a 13 year old who is still developing.

Truth be told, I still have some animosity toward them, as you can probably tell. But, I’m trying to move past it because like I said, what’s done is done. I can’t change it. It’s up to me now to work on myself and to work on undoing the damage that has been done. Im
just wondering if anyone else had overprotective/controlling parents and if you did, do you feel it has contributed to your social anxiety. I’m interested in hearing your experiences.
 
C

Cyberwaste

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#2
Hi @antisocial_butterfly

I was able to identify with a number of points that you have made, and I have been wondering for some time about the influence that my parent(s) may have had on the way that I am today. I wanted to share my experience with you too - I agree that having controlling and overprotective parents can contribute to feelings of anxiety and am beginning to realise that a lot of my fears are theirs, not mine. It has been pretty scary at times as I'm sure you will agree.

Firstly I am so sorry for your experience, which was by all accounts much worse than mine - I was not homeschooled and was never detained to the extent that you were. I was really sad to read that it took them another full year to "trust" you after the incident with the 16 year old, especially when you referred to them as "privileges". I don't think that you had done anything wrong, to justify the removal of any such privileges.

Anyway, I hope that my post will be of some use to you. I was raised by my mother, although my father was still involved as much as she would allow him. My gran (dad's mum) often expressed surprise that we still weren't allowed to do x, y or z by a certain age. She didn't understand that I wasn't refusing to do the dishes, I had just never been shown how to. She was appalled that at 12 years old I had never washed a dish, and quite frankly I can now see why! The kitchen had long been considered too dangerous a place for me to be in, so there were no cooking lessons either. My gran managed to wear her down so that I was gradually allowed to do things like board public transport alone, aged 14. By this time I was being left alone at home too, if she knew it would only be for an hour or so. I think without my grans influence there would have been plenty more that my mother would have kept me away from.

I had fallen out with a female friend when I'd been much younger and was no longer allowed to contact her again either. She found out that my dad had allowed me to ring her from his place, and she went completely apeshit. I was only about 7 and felt that she had completely overreacted - but that put an end to that, and all communication with her was prevented after that. I remember there being two landline telephones at home, and being very aware of either her or my sister on the other receiver, eavesdropping into all my conversations lol. I have a real issue with paranoia & phone conversations nowadays which I believe may stem from that kind of nonsense whilst I was growing up.

Also, as a teenager If I wasn't back home by say, 9pm, it was generally because I was dead in a ditch somewhere. Maybe run over, kidnapped, the list of possibilities was endless. The panic that would ensue on the way home was horrendous, knowing I was arriving home 10 mins late and wondering what would be waiting for me. I can still feel the knots tying up my stomach when I think of it now, and I really don't think I was a bad kid either. All of those horrible things that could happen to me out in the big, bad world - no wonder everyday situations are still terrifying now. Sadly she has proven herself to be correct on a number of occasions, and people can indeed be dicks. But I have some good people around me too, so I do know that that's not 100% of the population, the way that she made out that it is. I remember my mum telling me when I was young, that she had no friends and she liked it that way. I often wonder how much more awful her parents must have been to her, and my heart breaks for her. She probably doesn't mean to be the way that she is, but she has little sympathy with my family based on some of her past actions & a big part of me can see why. Despite everything I still can't bring myself to hate her the way that a lot of them are able to do.

I'm currently off work because the anxiety became too much to cope with on a daily basis. I am constantly terrified of people around me, fearing that they are talking about and laughing at me. I feel the imminent threat of physical attack from the most unsuspecting of people in supermarkets, at work and elsewhere. It was unrelenting & affecting every area of my life - I'm now genuinely very terrified of having to get back out there again & integrate with people, and I agree that a lot of this will be to do with having been kept in a bubble for so long. That and behaving like everyone around you is a bad influence. My bubble was nowhere near as restrictive as yours, and yet the effects are long-lasting in my case (I will be 30 soon, and thought I was leading a fairly normal life until about 4 years ago when these feelings hit me like a ton of bricks). So I must say that for you to have accomplished what you have given the circumstances is admirable - you have already managed to teach your children the importance of being confident and independent. That will stand them in good stead for later life, and they will appreciate & love you all the more for it. Please keep it up :hug:
 
A

antisocial_butterfly

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#3
Hi @antisocial_butterfly

I was able to identify with a number of points that you have made, and I have been wondering for some time about the influence that my parent(s) may have had on the way that I am today. I wanted to share my experience with you too - I agree that having controlling and overprotective parents can contribute to feelings of anxiety and am beginning to realise that a lot of my fears are theirs, not mine. It has been pretty scary at times as I'm sure you will agree.

Firstly I am so sorry for your experience, which was by all accounts much worse than mine - I was not homeschooled and was never detained to the extent that you were. I was really sad to read that it took them another full year to "trust" you after the incident with the 16 year old, especially when you referred to them as "privileges". I don't think that you had done anything wrong, to justify the removal of any such privileges.

Anyway, I hope that my post will be of some use to you. I was raised by my mother, although my father was still involved as much as she would allow him. My gran (dad's mum) often expressed surprise that we still weren't allowed to do x, y or z by a certain age. She didn't understand that I wasn't refusing to do the dishes, I had just never been shown how to. She was appalled that at 12 years old I had never washed a dish, and quite frankly I can now see why! The kitchen had long been considered too dangerous a place for me to be in, so there were no cooking lessons either. My gran managed to wear her down so that I was gradually allowed to do things like board public transport alone, aged 14. By this time I was being left alone at home too, if she knew it would only be for an hour or so. I think without my grans influence there would have been plenty more that my mother would have kept me away from.

I had fallen out with a female friend when I'd been much younger and was no longer allowed to contact her again either. She found out that my dad had allowed me to ring her from his place, and she went completely apeshit. I was only about 7 and felt that she had completely overreacted - but that put an end to that, and all communication with her was prevented after that. I remember there being two landline telephones at home, and being very aware of either her or my sister on the other receiver, eavesdropping into all my conversations lol. I have a real issue with paranoia & phone conversations nowadays which I believe may stem from that kind of nonsense whilst I was growing up.

Also, as a teenager If I wasn't back home by say, 9pm, it was generally because I was dead in a ditch somewhere. Maybe run over, kidnapped, the list of possibilities was endless. The panic that would ensue on the way home was horrendous, knowing I was arriving home 10 mins late and wondering what would be waiting for me. I can still feel the knots tying up my stomach when I think of it now, and I really don't think I was a bad kid either. All of those horrible things that could happen to me out in the big, bad world - no wonder everyday situations are still terrifying now. Sadly she has proven herself to be correct on a number of occasions, and people can indeed be dicks. But I have some good people around me too, so I do know that that's not 100% of the population, the way that she made out that it is. I remember my mum telling me when I was young, that she had no friends and she liked it that way. I often wonder how much more awful her parents must have been to her, and my heart breaks for her. She probably doesn't mean to be the way that she is, but she has little sympathy with my family based on some of her past actions & a big part of me can see why. Despite everything I still can't bring myself to hate her the way that a lot of them are able to do.

I'm currently off work because the anxiety became too much to cope with on a daily basis. I am constantly terrified of people around me, fearing that they are talking about and laughing at me. I feel the imminent threat of physical attack from the most unsuspecting of people in supermarkets, at work and elsewhere. It was unrelenting & affecting every area of my life - I'm now genuinely very terrified of having to get back out there again & integrate with people, and I agree that a lot of this will be to do with having been kept in a bubble for so long. That and behaving like everyone around you is a bad influence. My bubble was nowhere near as restrictive as yours, and yet the effects are long-lasting in my case (I will be 30 soon, and thought I was leading a fairly normal life until about 4 years ago when these feelings hit me like a ton of bricks). So I must say that for you to have accomplished what you have given the circumstances is admirable - you have already managed to teach your children the importance of being confident and independent. That will stand them in good stead for later life, and they will appreciate & love you all the more for it. Please keep it up :hug:
Thank you so much for your reply.

I’m sorry for your experiences as well. Even if you feel they weren’t as extreme as mine, your feelings are still valid. I can also relate to the eavesdropping thing. I felt I had very little privacy growing up. I remember one time being on the phone and I heard someone (my dad, I think) walking down the hallway and it sounded like he had stopped at my door. The floor would creak so I could always tell when someone was coming down the hall. I guess he could hear that I was on the phone with someone so he decided to stand outside the door and listen in. I started to get up and go open the door because I had a feeling that someone was there. I guess he could hear me coming because I heard him walk away before I opened the door.

I actually met my husband online. Since I had such little face to face interaction and since I was so socially anxious due to years of isolation, taking to people online was really the only option for me. He lived two states away, so I ended up moving out at 18 years old so that I could be with him. This completely destroyed my parents of course. They weren’t used to me being 400 feet away from them, let alone 400 miles. They did everything they could to talk me out of it. Told me I didn’t really know my husband (boyfriend at the time) and that he could be a serial killer or a rapist. He was 10 years older than me, and had been previously married (no children) so of course they made an issue out of this too. They acted like they couldn’t believe that I would move two states away and leave them. I didn’t understand what was so shocking or unusual about an 18 year old making their own decisions and moving away from home. I thought that’s what people are supposed to do. Especially considering the way that I grew up. I had felt like I had been overprotected and controlled for so long, I was dying to just be free. And that’s exactly what I got when I moved away from them. I got my drivers license shortly after moving down there and I will never forget getting in the car by myself and just driving. No one to tell me what to do or where to go. It was to this day, one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced. I was never allowed to get my drivers license when I lived with my parents because they were afraid I’d get into an accident and kill myself. Despite the fact that I have two older brothers and they both got their drivers licenses at 16. My oldest brother had totaled his car several times as a teenager and they would just keep buying him more cars. I, on the other hand, have been driving for 10 years and have never been in an accident, or even gotten a ticket.
My dad owns a restaurant and I even said I’d be willing to work there and pay for my own car insurance. They wouldn’t do it.

I have three brothers total; two older than me and one younger. At the time that I moved out, all three of them were still living with my parents. The two older ones were on their late twenties. Even now, two of them still live there and the oldest one lives literally right next door. He just moved out last year. None of my brothers have ever been married or have children. There was one time around when I met my husband that my oldest brother had met a girl and he started talking about marriage. My parents of course has only negative things to say about it, and he ended up breaking up with her. The girl was from some other country (Germany I think) and they started saying all this paranoid nonsense like that she could be a spy. I think they’d say whatever they had to in order to keep their kids from leaving them.

My husband and I ended up getting married soon after I moved away from my parents. After being married for about a year, my husband decided he wanted to move back to my hometown. I told him that I honestly didn’t care. As long as I was with him, I didn’t really care where we lived, so I left it up to him. He likes the area where I’m from and he knew it would make my parents happy, so we decided to do it. Right now, we live about 2 miles down the road from them. They babysit for me so it’s convenient having them close, but I’m hesitant to get any closer than that. They have some land behind their house and they’re always bringing up how they’d give us the land for free and we could build something behind their house. But, I just don’t know how I’d feel about having them as next door neighbors, knowing how enmeshed they like to be.
 
hicks

hicks

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#4
My Mum was over protective, but I don't think that contributed to my social anxiety. That's just the way my personality is wired up. Over the years (that's plenty of years!) I've got better at dealing with people in social situations, but still not on a par with others, in terms of being relaxed. Would I have got better at social situations earlier in life, with Mum being less over protective? I don't think so because I always naturally stayed away from social situations. That's just how I am.
 
Jef Costello

Jef Costello

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#5
Yes. I'd get treated like a caged animal when I was young and when I got older (13+) I was under strict supervision still but I had a bit more freedom. I used to blame my mom all the time, but then I learned why she has PTSD and anxiety so now I feel really guilty for blaming her. Although, it's definitely the reason why I've got such bad anxiety. I was formed by it, like Play-Doh.
 
K

khuang

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#6
I sort of did. It’s complicated really. The woman who helped raise me as a kid and who I viewed as my mom was extremely protective of me growing up but that quickly de-evolved into verbal and emotional abuse and total control issues once I grew up and she became an alcoholic. As a kid she would fight to get help for me and to stop any problems I had in school such as going into the principal’s office and arguing that I was being bullied so much that I was being miserable at home and it was affecting me mentally and it needed to be stopped. She seemed to have this constant need of being needed and taking care of someone who needed help and that she could have an influence with. She was a great caretaker when I was a kid and wasn’t drinking. But then I grew up and needed space and independence and she got a degree in social work and started going out to bars after work with coworkers and everything went downhill from there. She’d tell me while having glasses of wine how I ruined her life and was the cause of all sorts of problems in her life from relationship issues with her fiancé to the reason she never got married and had kids. She was a emotional passive aggressive drunk which is a really odd combination when she really got on my case. I cut off ties with her when she attacked me over some Christmas money that my mom had sent me and I quickly spent just so she wouldn’t use it to buy some more wine. At the time if the attack I just wanted to use the money on myself for once instead of giving it all to her as usual. But looking back I must have subconsciously knew the truth that it would have been spent buying bottles of wine and that I didn’t want to use my money funding her drinking problems anymore. I’d gladly accept her back into my life if she ever stayed with going to therapy and AA on a regular basis and tried to make amends with me as I know it was the alcohol that made her say those hurtful things to me and not her since she rarely spoke to me like that before she started to drink daily. And I would also lay down some ground rules that she must agree to and follow strictly if she wanted me back in her life again.
 
S

Skynet

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#7
My mom was overprotective and abusive at the same time. She never allowed me to go out on my own because she feared I'd be kidnapped or killed. At the same time, she would physically abuse me if I talked back to her, which is partly responsible for my current mental problems. So I guess she didn't manage to protect me from herself!
 
A

antisocial_butterfly

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#8
My mom was overprotective and abusive at the same time. She never allowed me to go out on my own because she feared I'd be kidnapped or killed. At the same time, she would physically abuse me if I talked back to her, which is partly responsible for my current mental problems. So I guess she didn't manage to protect me from herself!
“So I guess she didn’t manage to protect me from herself.” That is a very profound statement. I have never thought of it that way. My mom used to be like that too. I have memories of me being as young as 4 or 5 years old and getting smacked in the face for talking back to her. It happened several times throughout the years. But yet, as you said, she would overprotect me because she was constantly worried that if I got out of sight, I’d be raped/kidnapped/murdered. She regrets hitting me now and has apologized, but kids don’t forget that kind of stuff. Those memories stay with you for life. I’m sorry you had to experience that.
 
K

khuang

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#9
“So I guess she didn’t manage to protect me from herself.” That is a very profound statement. I have never thought of it that way. My mom used to be like that too. I have memories of me being as young as 4 or 5 years old and getting smacked in the face for talking back to her. It happened several times throughout the years. But yet, as you said, she would overprotect me because she was constantly worried that if I got out of sight, I’d be raped/kidnapped/murdered. She regrets hitting me now and has apologized, but kids don’t forget that kind of stuff. Those memories stay with you for life. I’m sorry you had to experience that.
Interesting. The woman I mentioned here also was that way with me. She never beat me up but she wasn’t afraid of slapping me when she was angry when I was an adult and at worst all I’d end up with is maybe a bruise on my cheek or a scratch from her fingernails but it looked like something I could have done to myself by mistake. The part that was really strange was that when she made me do things for her or stuff for myself that I hadn’t done yet, she’d say, “Go do it now! I’m not your n-!” Yes she actually used the N word often but not as a racial slur towards people. More of a term in exchangeable with slave. She wasn’t racist as she had friends of all ethnic backgrounds and dated a black guy once. She had a weird sense of what was racist. She actually thought the phrase “white lie” was racist and was highly offended if anyone used the term and didn’t believe it was an actual phrase and always asked why there was no “black lie.” I think the reason she never punched me or choked me aside from the attack that made me cut off ties with her was because she knew people would notice me hurt and ask questions ruining her facade of being this selfless caretaker and also the possibility of me fighting back and/or losing her job working with autistic kids.
 
lilbit

lilbit

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#11
This is a really interesting topic and one that I've tussled over with myself many times.

I am an only child who was painfully shy growing up. My mum stayed off work to look after me until I was 8 (I of course also went to school) and my dad was a little on the strict side. Up until I was a teenager I felt detached from my dad and was quite clingy with my mum. Looking back now I wonder whether my mum caused and/or compounded this by being a stay at home parent, as it meant I was only used to her and had minimal interaction with other people in my younger years. The other reason I blame her is because she was also quite overprotective. As I was already a shy child she'd never push me. For example, if we were out and an adult said hello or asked me something, if I didn't immediately answer she'd answer for me. So eventually I guess I got used to being "spared" the embarrassment knowing she'd take care of it anyway, so I never tried to come out of my shell.

As I got older she was never keen on allowing me to make my own decisions or mistakes and, again as a result, I blame her for my perfectionist attitude and reluctance to try anything without knowing with certainty what the outcome will be. My father was the opposite and used to try and push me to do things, becoming annoyed if I didn't want to. I had a very confused and conflicted time between about 5 and 11 years old. I suppose going to secondary school ironed out some of these issues, but I struggled there too, didn't really make friends and was a bit of a loner for most of it.
I've waffled on a bit! The upshot of where this was all going is that I still feel some resentment towards my parents for my upbringing, but at the same time feel guilty for feeling the resentment as they are good people and I believe that they thought they were doing what was best. So I still feel conflicted over it all (even at 38!) as I can't help feeling that if things were a little different I'd have been more confident and not struggled throughout my teens and early 20s.
Its a work in progress, letting go of it all