Jan 30, 2018

Butterflies Are Free: Uncovering Overprotective Parenting

Is it alright to let your children make their own mistakes and leap over life’s hurdles on their own? 

Are you too overprotective?

Not protective enough?

Image Credit: Pixabay.com
parenting and reflection @ asquareofchocolate.com

A good example of being too overprotective and how it can paralyze and smother a person is portrayed in the movie Butterflies Are Free

I recently saw this on an oldies movie channel and it is starring Goldie Hawn, Edward Albert and Eileen Heckart. The movie made in 1972 was one I hadn’t seen before and seeing a young Goldie Hawn got my attention. She played her character spot on with a surprising wittiness that made me love her more. 

The storyline was intriguing because Edward Albert who plays Don Baker, a blind aspiring singer-songwriter is living away from his overprotective mother (Eileen Heckart) for the first time. Don’s neighbor, Jill Tanner (Goldie Hawn), a free-spirited and headstrong young woman with big dreams invites herself in for a friendly and neighborly cup of coffee. She doesn’t realize, at first, that Don is blind. 

As the visit continues they bond over music and poetry. Eventually, she finds out he is blind and this fascinates her more. She makes regular visits until they become more intimate, which develops into a sweet connection between them.  Jill exposes him to the free-spirited side of life, which is something he’s not experienced before. 

His mother had always managed to protect him from the world’s discriminations and from people that would disappoint or take advantage of him. 

Later, Don’s mother would make a surprise visit only to find Jill getting very comfortable in his apartment with little to nothing on. The mother questions her motives and later proceeds to make a deal with her to stay away from her son. Her mothering instincts kick in and, particularly, since Don is blind she has an overwhelming need to protect him from any relationship that isn’t up to her standards. 

As you can imagine this doesn’t go over well and each of these characters begin to learn some very valuable life lessons. 


Overprotective parenting is a good subject to uncover and it certainly made for a good plot twist in the movie. 

There’s nothing more special than a mother’s love, but shielding an older child from taking low risks or experiencing healthy forms of stress that life doles out, won’t help them to cope later in life. Possibly, doing so could create chronic stress and the inability to deal with adversity later as adults.  An article from Psychology Today says “Yes, Overprotective Parenting Harms Kids.”

As a mother of two young adults, I know how it feels to want all good things for my kids. We want to spare them from hurt, pain and the unfairness of life. However, when I look back at my own younger years, I realize making those early mistakes, working it out and solving my own problems helped me grow into a confident and independent adult. 

Actually, it’s something we’re constantly working on our entire life and it’s good to get a handle on this as early in life as we can. Teaching children at an early age to tackle small and simple dilemmas can help them later in life when those dilemmas are bigger or more serious.

This article, Don’t Smother Your Adult Children! Let Them Find Their Own Way Forward discusses the overprotective parent or “helicopter parent” and some of the symptoms and examples to watch for.


In this Ted Talk link "Five dangerous things you should let your kids do" talks about the importance and benefits of kids (even small children) experiencing, playing, but also learning about some potential dangers, so they are better prepared as they grow older. Here are the 5 Gever Tulley discusses. 

Some of these you might be saying, what the what?!?! After watching this video, I can bravely say that both my kids did experience all of these "dangers" in their young life. Check out the link and see if you agree with these.

  1. Play with fire
  2. Own a pocket knife
  3. Throw a spear
  4. Deconstruct appliances
  5. Break the DMCA (digital millennium copyright act) 
And, bonus #6 - Drive a car


Image Credit: Pixabay.com
I think a parent that’s always on guard for their child and trying to control them from life’s undesirable moments, won’t be teaching them to find their own way or to build self-confidence. It may even create resentment. 

Of course, it’s good for parents to always listen and guide when necessary. Goodness sakes, even at my age, I still go to my mom and dad for advice or a listening ear.  And, I fully expect my adult children will do the same.  No question, I’ll be there to guide and console the best I can.  After that, it’s up to the child to make choices, maybe make mistakes to discover themselves and learn how to be self-reliant. 

At the point when children reach adult age and enter the world on their own could be the time parents take an observant backseat and trust.

Image Credit: Pixabay.com


It's so great when you have a classic movie that never goes out of style in the sense of its timeless message and can be relevant to most everyone. Even though it was filmed in 1972, I loved the nostalgia of that time period and I think the younger generation would like it as well. 

The movie has humor, charming innocence, young love and drama throughout the movie. Personally, I thought Goldie Hawn was perfect for the role of Jill and she captured the free-spirited character with ease. 

I think any parent with young adult children, especially children with disabilities, could relate to the difficulties and emotions portrayed in this movie. I like that it expressed each character’s view and they all come out of it learning about themselves and each other.

Here’s more on the movie from TCM - Turner Classic Movies 

Possibly, it’s available on demand or on Netflix.  Also, it can be purchased through Amazon

Do you struggle with letting your butterflies be free?

***Next month's topic in my Self-Awareness Blog Series, I'll discuss the traits of being an only child.  I hope you'll check back or please see options below to subscribe to your email and you'll receive new stories as they're posted.

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  1. It's so important for parents to let our young adults make their own mistakes - and it's just as important to be there to help them when they ask for it, in whatever way we are comfortable doing so.

    1. Thanks Sharon for your reply - I know this is a territory you cover and know well. I couldn't agree more with your statement. :)

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you Brenda! We're currently in the same boat as we guide our young adults down an independent road. So, happy you stopped by to read.

  3. Well I haven't heard about this movie thanks to aware me about this movie. I love to watch online movies. I will watch this movie later on Sunday. Thanks for your suggestion.


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