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Can You Love Your Children Too Much?

Yes. They are missing life skills and may struggle with mental health issues.

Key points

  • Even though it may look good to others, over-nurturing keeps children from becoming successful and self-confident.
  • The term over nurture captures the function of these parenting styles: helicopter, snowplow, bulldozer, tiger, and overinvolved parent.
  • Parents who over-nurture their children risk having them grow up without knowing vital life skills and having mental health issues.
Source: Bredehoft

After our first trip to Hawaii, my wife and I started growing orchids more than thirty-five years ago. We bought our first orchid and brought it home to Minnesota. We loved that orchid!

Not long after we got it home, the leaves started to turn yellow and began falling off.

Soon after that, it died. What went wrong? We loved it to death. We had overwatered it. Yes, you can love something too much, and it does harm. Children are no different. Children need nurture to flourish, but too much nurture can become over-nurture, and over-nurturing becomes childhood overindulgence. Even though it may look good, over-nurturing keeps children from becoming successful and self-confident.

Nurture is all the ways we provide for the soft needs: love, touch, warmth, attention, support, stimulation, recognition, and response. (Clarke et al. 2014, p. 84.)

Overindulging by overnurturing is doing too much of a good thing. It is a smothering kind of care. It puts the child at risk of becoming self-centered and spoiled and also keeps her [him] from becoming competent. (Clarke et al. 2014, p. 84.)

 Bo Allen/Pexels
Source: Bo Allen/Pexels


Think of a funnel. At the top are all of the terms currently used for over nurture, e.g., helicopter, overprotective, overinvolved, snowplow, lawnmower, tiger, hovercraft parent, etc., and at the bottom, coming out is over nurture.

The term over-nurture captures the function of all of these various parenting styles. One thing they have in common is doing too much for their child, smothering them, all with good intentions, all wanting the best for their child, and not wanting their child to fail or experience unpleasant feelings that are a normal part of life.

Risks From Overnurture

When asked which skills were missing because their parents did things for them when they were children, subjects reported the following:2

  • Communication
  • Interpersonal and relationship skills
  • Domestic and home skills
  • Mental and personal health skills
  • Decision-making skills
  • Money and time management skills
  • Learning how to be responsible

Mental Health Issues Linked to Overnurture

The following mental health issues were linked to female emerging adults who were overnurtured.3, 4

Signs You Overnurture Your Child

Take a moment and think about how you interact with your child.5 If you regularly do any of the following, you are probably over-nurturing your child, which may pave the way for problems in the future.

  1. You fight your child's battles.
  2. You do their schoolwork for them.
  3. You coach their coaches.
  4. You keep your kids on a short leash.
  5. You are a maid in your own house.
  6. You try to protect them too much.

Can you love your children too much? Yes, you can love something too much, and it does harm. Children need nurture, and children flourish if they are nurtured. But, when children are over-nurtured, smothered, and overprotected, it becomes childhood overindulgence. Overnurturing keeps children from becoming successful and self-confident.

Practice Aloha. Do all things with love, grace, and gratitude.

© 2023 David J. Bredehoft


1. Clarke, J. I., Dawson, C., Bredehoft, D. J. (2014). How much is too much? Raising likeable, responsible, respectful children - from toddlers to teens - in an age of overindulgence. NY: Da Capo Lifelong press.

2. Bredehoft, D. J., Mennicke, S. A., Potter, A. M., & Clarke, J. I. (1998). Perceptions attributed by adults to parental overindulgence during childhood. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences Education, 16(2), 3-17.

3. Love, H., Cui, M., Hong, P., & McWey, L. M. (2020). Parent and child perceptions of indulgent parenting and female emerging adults’ depressive symptoms, Journal of Family Studies, DOI: 10.1080/13229400.2020.1794932

4. Cui, M., Graber, J., Metz, A., & Darling, C. (2016). Parental indulgence, self-regulation, and young adults’ behavioral and emotional problems. Journal of Family Studies. Advanced online publication.

5. Alli, R. A. (2020). 7 signs you might be a helicopter parent. Grow by WebMD. Retrieved 1.6.23 from

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