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Am I Screwing Up My Toddler With My Overprotectiveness?

Photograph by Twenty20

Everyone knows toddlers don't give a rat's ass. They will walk off the edge of a skyscraper right in front of your bulging eyes. If given even half a chance, any toddler would teeter on the precipice of 70 stories up, catch your unbelieving eye with the cutest horrified face in the history of the world, and then ... well, plunge. They're just that innocent. They're just that MFing dumb.

As a dad to one of these little humans, universally clichéd as "wild," I'm torn apart in my soul at times. How much freedom is too much freedom for these little humans?

I'm a divorced, single dad, raising three kids (ages 9, 7 and 4) on my own half of every week, every month, every year. Their mom has them the other half of the week. And, although we've been raising our children in very similar ways, we also veer away from each other—like, a lot.

I'm not afraid to admit that I feel like I suck because I might be too overbearing at times.

It's all about our different approaches to the regular playing-in-the-yard kind of stuff. She's very hands-off when it comes to letting the free-range chicks do their thing. I'm not.

I watch closely in order to make sure that planes aren't crashing out of the sky. Or that rattlesnakes haven't swarmed on the hiking trail up ahead where the kids are running. And, yes, I know you're probably siding with the parent who isn't me. After all, no one likes a hyper-vigilant, overprotective neurotic nightmare dad, right?

I'm not afraid to admit that I feel like I suck because I might be too overbearing at times. Am I doing permanent damage to my youngest boy when I harp on him to not come down the steps with his blankie dangling between his legs? I see him bashing his teeth, breaking his legs. I see dead people, when they're only really vivacious youth. I've kept them from being attacked by vultures, but at some point, I'll have to let them fly. So, why am I always stressing? Does anyone even know?

The question is a hard one. Maybe even the hardest. I want my love to be right. I don't want to mess my kids up.

That's the same old song of parenting, isn't it?

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