New research into children's behaviour has found that being an overprotective parent can in fact raise your child's chances of being bullied.
So parents whose aim is to protect their children are in fact doing the exact opposite by turning them into a softer target.
Normally I don't pay much attention to parenting surveys - whatever they say, chances are another one will come along in a few weeks saying the exact opposite. Or the research can be dubious at heart and only serve to support whoever paid for the survey in the first place. You know the sort of thing - a survey finds that families love monkeys in hats and it will turn out to have been paid for by a monkey milliner and compiled by asking 3 people in their office.
But this research is a bit different - first of all it's very wideranging, taking in over 70 previous studies which have analysed the behaviour of over 200,000 children. Secondly, it's been produced by the University of Warwick rather than a company with a commercial agenda.
Professor Dieter Wolke, one of the study's authors, has said "Children need support but some parents try to buffer their children from all negative experiences.
"In the process, they prevent their children from learning ways of dealing with bullies and make them more vulnerable.
"It could be that children with overprotective parents may not develop qualities such as autonomy and assertion and therefore may be easy targets for bullies."
In my heart I think I would like to be an overprotective parent. I would love to roll my children up in cotton wool and keep them within my sight at all times. Deep down I would like their lives to be all puppies and kittens and marshmallows and happiness, with nothing to make them cry or hurt them in any way.
But really, I know that's not good for them. I have to let them fall over, make mistakes, do things that are a little bit dangerous, things that I wouldn't have chosen for them. I don't want them to grow up as people who are afraid to stretch their boundaries or are afraid to be brave. I don't want them only to know life inside the cotton wool. Sometimes when challenging things happen I say to them Everybody has tough times in their lives and this is one of yours. Shit happens, but we deal with it and move on.
So whilst our instinct as a parent may be to protect our children, perhaps the most protective thing we can do in the long run is to let them stand on their own two feet and deal with whatever life has to offer.
What do you think?