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7 Ways Overprotective Dads Hurt Their Sons

When I think of dads who are overprotective of their sons, I can't help but picture Marlin and Nemo in Finding Nemo. As odd as it may be to compare an animated film to real life parenting, the example is perfect. The movies clearly shows some of the ways overprotective dads hurt their sons with their constant need to feel in control of their child's safety. Little Nemo becomes so frustrating with his dad's obsession with buffering him from the outside world, that he makes some risky decisions and ends up in a dangerous situation.

Although this example has a happy Hollywood ending, this is not always the case for every day examples, like my husband and our two sons. In my house, the parental stereotypes are flip-flopped; I encourage my kids to take more risks and push them harder to do things that scare them, while my husband is overly cautious and worries enough for the both of us. It' just his nature to be more concerned with dangers, so he has to fight against those tendencies in order to support our boys in a positive way that doesn't cross the line into overbearing.

To give your child what they need to be successful at problem solving and taking chances, notice how these seven results of overprotective dads can effect their sons from childhood and beyond.

1. They Damage Peer Relationships

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Most of the time, letting the child lead in play is important. According to Today's Parent, "when fathers exert too much control over the play, instead of responding to their children’s cues, their sons can have more difficulty with their peers." Instead of trying to force only safe and controlled play ideas, dads should follow their son's lead and add a few safety tips along the way when appropriate.

2. They Make Them Fearful

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Constantly pointing out dangers to kids can have a negative result. As Time magazine pointed out, kids who take less risks when young tend to be more fearful and have a harder time being independent as adults. If a boy has a dad who consistently limits risk taking, his son harbor more fears and insecurities throughout life.

3. They Keep Kids From Learning The Difference Between Risk and Risky

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It's important for kids to learn safety, but how much is too much when it comes to everyday life? According to Real Simple magazine, kids need to know there is a difference between taking risks and risky behavior. Overprotective dads may have trouble drawing the line between the two, and sons will see every day activities as potentially dangerous instead of using proper caution to enjoy the small things, such as riding a bike.

4. They Make It Harder For Kids To Overcome Obstacles

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Having overprotective tendencies can hinder a child's ability to get through tough situations. As Parenting magazine pointed out, fathers are key in encouraging kids to overcome obstacles, which means boys with overprotective dads could struggle when faced with adversity.  

5. They Pass On Masculinity Myths

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Boys depend on the example of their fathers to learn about masculinity, according to Psychology Today. When a dad is overprotective, it sends a message that a man's main duty is to protect at all costs and that the male figure has all the power to do so. This gives a limited model of what it means to be a man and keeps the harmful cycle of patriarchy in motion.

6. They Make Their Kids Targets For Bullying

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When you protect your child from everything, they're not sure how to deal with real life situations. A study published in the journal, Child Abuse and Neglect, found that children of overprotective parents have a higher risk of being bullied.

7. The Effects Are Long Term

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It's no surprise that parents play a huge role in preparing their child for adulthood — both in what they intend and do not intend. According to Psych Alive, the relationship boys have with their father plays a role in how they function in adulthood. The more negative aspects there were to a dad's parenting, the more negative effects the boy experiences as an adult.