I haven't read everything here but I've been thinking about this situation alot lately - I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone else and "nothing bad ever happened". A classmate of mine was very sheltered like this. Her driveway was maybe 50 feet long, with a direct line of sight from the house to the end of the driveway, and her mother waited at the end of the driveway for the school bus with/for her morning and afternoon THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL. There were other little things her parents did, like get special permission for her to eat a snack during class in Middle and High School, and to skip certain parts of practice for the Softball team (which was an optional after school activity), and always wrote her notes when she couldn't finish her homework because she didn't know how to do it. Her mother would bring her lunch for her every day because she liked warm lunches but not school lunch - so her mom heated up her lunch and brought it in for her. Just little things that, by high school, the rest of us were doing for ourselves or just dealing with on our own.. We all felt sorry for her, and some kids made fun of her. She and I were sort of friends, we didn't hang out at each others' houses but we were friendly in school and did some activities together.
I've recently started talking with her again - we "met" again in an online forum - and I am amazed at some of the things she says. She tried living on her own but never felt safe so she now lives with her 40 year old boyfriend (we're 25). She has never been able to finish college because the teachers are always unfair and don't understand her needs, and she's just started her 5th job in 2 months because the employers end up not understanding and expecting too much of her. It is *never* her fault/problem, it is always someone else's fault, and someone else's failure to do something - and I really think this is a direct result of the fact that she was never allowed to do anything for herself/on her own growing up. She doesn't seem to know how to function in the "real world", and it just makes me sad cause she's such a nice person in general. For the record, she has no special needs outside of asthma, so there isn't a hidden reason for any of this.