When a parent is overprotective, it is usually a sign that he or she means well. Mothers and fathers feel that it is their job to make sure nothing harms their children. Many try to be really hands on and involve themselves heavily in every aspect of child rearing, but some parents do go a little beyond protecting.
There are some mothers that have been known to go to extremes to make sure that their child doesn’t get hurt or make mistakes that could harm them. Many people have heard the term, “helicopter parent”; one who hovers and takes excessive interest in the child’s life, but what about neurotic parents? How many of us know someone who stretches that hovering to an all new level?
A person who is neurotic suffers from excessive, irrational anxiety or obsessions. Anne Spring of Toronto Ontario, didn’t realize until her daughter was in her late teens that she was being a neurotic mother.
“It took a lot of mistakes and a lot of self-reflection to realize that I was out-of-control when it came to caring about Alicia,” Spring recently confessed to Babygaga.
No one ever expected Anne Spring to be so neurotic raising her daughter. After all, she had already raised a boy without applying illogical mothering techniques, but for some reason when her daughter came along she was full of anxiety.
“There is a huge age gap between my son and my daughter. Also, as old fashion as this sounds, I do feel like raising a girl is different than raising a boy,” the mother of two admitted.
Anne Spring has said that she did many things that you might classify as neurotic, but at the time, she thought she was just being a “good mom”.
The following list will give you a better idea of just how far this caring mother took parenting. In other words, how neurotic she was in raising her daughter.
Anne was never terrified of germs until her daughter was born. She knew from raising her son and taking him to daycare that he often picked up illnesses from other toddlers so when any kids would approach Alicia, Anne would instruct them to “look, don’t touch”. There were days she would be out pushing the baby carriage and passersby would stop, talk to Anne, and look into the carriage at Alicia. Anne would tell them they could touch her feet, but not her hands or any other part of her body.
When it came time to send Alicia to daycare, Anne lathered the child in antibacterial gel. Each day she left her at the daycare centre she would remind the staff to apply the gel to her daughter’s hands at lunch, snack time and after any hand washing. Just to remain on the safe side, Alicia was never allowed to eat food with her fingers. Yes, that meant that the little girl had to eat chicken fingers and French fries with a knife and fork. Well, at least when mom was looking. What Anne was not taking into consideration was the fact that her daughter needed to build up her immune system; that getting a virus or two wasn’t such a bad idea.
The anxious mother also had a seamstress make a small facemask for her daughter once she got a little older. Whenever they ventured into the downtown area, she made her daughter wear the mask to protect her from car and factory fumes.
Many mothers believe that breast milk contains vitamins and nutrients that babies need in the first 6 months of life. Breast milk is jam packed with disease-fighting compounds that can protect babies from illness. This is likely why the American Academy of Paediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. This is certainly something that Anne Spring zeroed in on.
She breastfed both her kids, but with Alicia she was even more focused on the benefits of breast milk. When it came time to introduce foods like porridge, Anne Spring couldn’t pull herself away from the idea that breast milk is best so she proceeded to squirt milk from her breasts into her daughter’s porridge each day. Although it wasn’t all that convenient, she felt it was the best way to guarantee a healthy child. While many people told her they understood why she wanted to breastfeed longer than the 6 month average, they couldn’t believe it when she said she was squirting her breast milk into her baby’s porridge.
As I am sure you can imagine, getting a babysitter is a nail-biting chore for a neurotic mother. Anne Spring was so distressed about the idea of someone other than herself caring for Alicia that she decided to put together an instruction manual – yes, a babysitting instruction manual. Even Anne’s sister who had raised 3 perfectly healthy and well-adjusted children herself, had to read the entire manual before she could be left alone with Alicia.
The Anne Spring Babysitting Manual was a total of 22 pages and included guidelines on everything from burping techniques and first aid, to acceptable language you could use around the baby, as well as how to change the baby’s clothing in a “non-aggressive fashion”. Once Anne knew she had a babysitter lined up, she would send the manual to that person and suggest they read through it and then ask her questions before the actually sitting date. “It was totally ridiculous. There was one section that went into great detail about what to do if the baby rejected the breast milk that she had pumped before she went out. I think it was two or three pages long,” Anne’s sister, Sandra told BabyGaga.
Antibacterial gel and a face mask were not enough for this neurotic parent. Anne Spring loved taking Alicia to the park as a baby and also as a toddler so that she could run around a play; however, she was very nervous about birds. She didn’t want her child to have any contact with bird feces on or near the playground so she insisted that her little girl wear gloves when playing at the park, including in the spring and summer months. Since Alicia’s hands would slip off of the play sets in the playground, Spring searched for non-slip gloves. There are non-slip gloves on the market today, but they weren’t as common when Alicia was growing up so Spring took a tube of 100 percent clear silicone and made dots on the fingers and palms of the gloves to prevent slippage. She did the same thing with Alicia’s socks so that she wouldn’t slip and hurt herself when she was running around the house.
While most children have a tendency to want to feed ducks and birds, Spring discouraged it. She didn’t want to draw any attention from birds because she thought between their droppings and their pecking, they were just too dangerous.
Today Anne Spring’s daughter is 21-years-old. She is full of life and enjoys being outdoor, but she doesn’t know how to ride a bicycle. She didn’t get to learn this important right of passage like other children in her neighbourhood did. Why? Because her mother was worried that even with a helmet she might fall down and hurt herself, causing permanent, irreversible damage.
Pediatric specialists say learning to ride a bike is key to child development because it taps into various emotions, including joy and a sense of accomplishment. Experts also say that there are few other activities that you can learn as a youngster that can be this much fun and be great for leg muscles at the same time. “For sure, lots of people pushed me to let Alicia learn about riding a bike, but I just couldn’t bring myself to allow it. Even the idea of letting her on a bike with training wheels terrified me,” Spring said.
You will be hard pressed to find a parent who doesn’t worry about their child walking to school alone for the first time. Many parents struggle with the question: How old should my son/daughter be before walking to school on their own? A lot of people probably take the following stand - it depends on the child’s maturity and personality, how far away the school is from home and the amount of traffic.
Experts at Parachute, a Canadian organization that focuses on preventing injuries and saving lives, say that generally around the age of 9 kids are more attentive and can cross the street safely. Well, that may be true, but that was not good enough for Anne Spring. While she allowed Alicia to walk alone (kind of) starting at age eleven, she put on a disguise and walked several yards behind her all the way to and from school, each and every day. “I was lucky that I worked part-time and I could do the morning and afternoon walk. When she went to high school she was bused so I didn’t have to do the walk, but I did worry because the school bus didn’t have seat belts and I didn’t know the drivers,” Spring confessed.
BPA stands for bisphenol A, an industrial chemical that has been used in certain plastics and resins since the 1960’s. It can be found in some containers that are used to store food and beverages, as well as in other consumers goods and toys. Some studies suggest that BPA can seep into food or beverage containers. Exposure to the chemical is worrisome because there could be possible health effects. Research has indicated that BPA can impact the brain, behaviour, the prostate gland of foetuses, infants and children.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some studies link it to increased blood pressure as well. While food and drug regulators in both the United States and Canada have come out and said, very low levels of BPA are “safe”, some people like Anne Spring don’t like to take chances. When her daughter was growing up, she was not allowed to play with plastic containers, which is a favourite toy for toddlers. A lot of us know kids who love to crawl into the plastic container cupboard and play. Spring also forbid her daughter from playing with anything that came from a dollar store. She assumed the dollar toys were full of BPA and the last thing she wanted was her teething baby chewing on a BPA filled toy or to see her touching something made with BPA and then putting her fingers in her mouth.
We have all heard of parents checking candies at Halloween. Sadly, since the tradition of trick or treating began there have been incidents where kids have received odd or dangerous candy when they have gone door-to-door. Naturally, Anne Spring would check her daughter’s Halloween candy, but she went a little further by counting the candies and giving Alicia a schedule as to when she could eat the candy and how much. The Toronto Mom was too worried about cavities to allow her daughter to consume too many sweets. As it turns out, Spring had a classmate in grade school that didn’t realize she had a cavity and that cavity eroded the tooth and led to damage in the nerve chamber. Once the nerve of a tooth becomes infected, it will abscess, causing a lot of pain. At this point, a filling is no longer possible and the tooth requires a root canal.
When Anne Spring first found out she was pregnant with her daughter she enrolled in an infant first aid and CPR class. She wanted to make sure she was ready to swing into action in the event of an emergency with her precious child. When her daughter moved from milk to solid foods, she had a strict rule about feeding – she was the only person who could feed Alicia. What if her daughter started to choke and the person feeding her didn’t know what to do? This was the question foremost in her mind. “I knew that a child dies every 5 minutes in the United States as a result of choking on food. It freaked me out. Actually, it still does,” Spring admitted. Science Daily reports that choking is a leading cause of injury and death among kids under the age of 4, but it’s not just food that is the culprit. A lot of kids also choke on coins and toys.
Newborn babies can have irregular breathing patterns. They can alternate between fast and slow or sometimes they have pauses in their breathing. Newborns are also known for breathing out of their noses as opposed to their mouths. This is because their little noses have small air passages and just a little bit of mucus can make it hard for them to breath through the nose. When Alicia Spring was a newborn, Anne Spring used to videotape her breathing and then take the videos to the doctor for viewing. The concerned mom was convinced that the high-pitched sound coming from her daughter was something serious. At first, the doctor told Spring that he couldn’t see or hear anything unusual. After several video recordings, he told Spring that Alicia had “Stridor”, a common sound that young babies make when they are breathing in. It is more pronounced when a baby is lying on his or her back. It happens in babies who have a little excess tissue around the larynx, but it is nothing to worry about. Despite reassurances, for the first year of Alicia’s life, videotaping her breathing at night while in her crib was a regular chore for Anne Spring, who was convinced that her daughter was in danger.
One of the amazing things about human vision is the wide range it has. We can be asleep, wake up in the middle of the night and it only takes a few seconds for our eyes to adjust to the lack of light so we can find our way around. The range of our eyes comes from different parts of the eye. Still, many people need to keep a small night-light on to make it easier to move from room-to-room in darkness. I think most people would agree that night-lights are perfectly normal in situations where you have kids. They not only help the parents find their way to the child’s room, but they can be soothing to the child if they wake up in the middle of the night and happen to be afraid of the dark.
However, Anne Spring used night-lights and she wore her glasses to bed when her daughter was young. “I wanted to be prepared. In the event that she needed me, I didn’t want to waste time scrambling for my glasses so I would wear them to bed. If she needed me I could be there for her pronto,” Spring explained her so-called reasoning during a recent interview with Babygaga. The neurotic mom also admitted that she did go through several pairs of glasses when her daughter was young. It seems rolling over in bed can snap the bridge, arms and even the lenses of glasses.
The thought of a wet diaper was just too much for Anne Spring to handle. This meant that little Alicia spent a great deal of her baby years being changed. Most babies spend a lot of time sleeping, but Spring acknowledged that she used to wake her daughter up from naps to see if she was wet or not. There were even times when she wasn’t 100 percent certain the baby was wet, but just in case, she changed her diaper.
Changing diapers constantly cost a small fortune, yet the Toronto resident wasn’t going to chance her little girl getting a diaper rash. The thought of Alicia experiencing any sort of discomfort was just too much for Anne Spring. When Anne’s husband complained about how much money she was spending on diapers, she told him “it's typical”. Anne Spring’s son was from a previous marriage so her husband who was the father of Alicia, had nothing to compare it to. “I feel bad now for stretching the truth, but at the time I would have said anything to protect Alicia,” Spring conceded.
A lot of mothers will admit that they can’t live without baby wipes. Just imagine how many washcloths parents had to launder years ago. Baby wipes are used for cleaning babies’ bottoms during diaper changes, wiping off change tables and high chairs, as well as cleaning up spills. Anne Spring found a new use for them when Alicia came along. She was so worried about ensuring her daughter’s safety and so concerned about cleanliness that she would either shower just before breastfeeding or she would wipe her nipples with a baby wipe before allowing Alicia to latch on.
Baby wipes were developed in the 1970’s and were an expensive item, but by the 1990’s a lot of companies were making them so Anne Spring had her pick of affordable baby wipes for her nipples. It’s hard to picture a mother doing this every time she had to breast feed her baby, but as Spring reported to us, she “never left home without baby wipes”.
A sleepover is defined as an occasion of spending the night away from home or having a guest spend the night in one’s home, such as a party for children. When Anne Spring was a young girl growing up in Scarborough Ontario, she enjoyed multiple sleepovers with her girlfriends. Some of those sleepovers were part of a birthday celebration, while others were just for the fun of it. When Spring had her daughter Alicia though, she put her foot down – there would be no sleepovers, unless it was at her house. So in other words, Alicia’s friends were welcome to come stay overnight at the Spring’s house, but Alicia was never allowed to stay at a friend’s house for the night. “ With the number of news reports you hear about child molesters and pedophiles, there was no way. I mean, I knew the moms and of course, my daughter’s friends, but in some cases I didn’t know the father’s so there was no way,” Spring explained. When Alicia was old enough to make her own decisions, Anne Spring admits that her daughter was too afraid to go. “I didn’t think about it when she was young, but I guess all my talk about freaks and molestation made her too scared. To this day she is weary of staying at other people’s houses,” Spring admitted.
When Alicia Spring was 17 she started dating. This of course threw Anne Spring into a panic. What if someone tried to hurt her daughter’s feelings? What if she was physically abused by a boy? What if a boy picked her up in a car and wasn’t a very good driver? Dozens of questions went through her head. She had to set some ground rules. Any boy who wanted to take her daughter out had to spend time at the house first. This meant the first date usually consisted of Alicia and a boy watching a movie at home or getting together at the Spring’s house to play video games. If and when a boy ever picked Alicia up in a car, Anne Spring would peer out the window, write down the license plate number and keep it close by just in case she felt the need to call the police. She made it clear to her daughter that she would call the police if she was more than 5 minutes late for her curfew.
Two years ago Anne Spring went through a very stressful period as she was forced to let go. Alicia Spring was going off to University and was no longer going to be living with neurotic mom. Anne Spring acted like it was the end of the world, but a funny thing happened. She soon discovered that her daughter could eat, sleep, study, and participate in life, without anything horrible happening. Alicia didn’t need her mother constantly hovering over her. Seeing her daughter out on her own has given Anne Spring new perspective. She now realizes that she was neurotic when it came to her parenting. “I could have eased up in a number of areas. I wish I would have”.
Today, Anne Spring notices that her 21-year-old daughter doesn’t trust many people, she is a very picky eater, is fearful of learning to drive and is obsessed with brushing her teeth. Gee I wonder how that happened?
While it is fun to laugh at neurotic mothers, psychologists say that being a neurotic parent isn’t really funny. When we become extremely overprotective of our kids experts say that we are basically making our children prisoners in their own homes. It is hard for kids to explore the world and their own feelings when they have a parent constantly hovering over them. Protecting them too much can also harm them in the future because it means that we are not giving them the skills to cope and take care of themselves as adults.