You’ve experienced helicopter parents in your facility for sure, but what about lawnmower parents?
The lawnmower parent is similar to but more intense than the helicopter parent.
The over-indulging helicopters are seemingly being superseded by lawnmower parents.
Lawnmower parents are an evolved breed of helicopter parents. Instead of just hovering, fussing and worrying, lawnmower parents take matters in their own hands before the ‘issue’ reaches their kids. Lawnmower parents rally ahead and clear the intended path for their child. These parents try to pre-empt possible problems and “mow down” any and all possible obstacles (whether perceived or realistic) in their child’s way.
Lawnmower parents take on different forms that depend on the age and developmental stage of their child.
Primary years: Produce lawnmower parents that are more aggressive – pushing their child’s agenda ahead of other children or trying to have consequences for their child’s actions reduced or dismissed.
Teenage years: Produce lawnmower parents that can reach a stifling level of control over their teen. Teenagers can (and eventually do) become resentful about being micromanaged and rebel trying to do things their own way.
This all begins when the child is a helpless infant. The lawnmower parent results from the parent’s excessive anxiety about their child’s safety and whether they’re developing “normally” according to medical standards. They’re – in a word – obsessed. And it isn’t healthy for the parent or the child.
Why are today’s parents so obsessed? One culprit is likely to be the easy access parents have to LOTS of information. It makes some parents severely paranoid about their child’s welfare and development.
Not too many years ago – let’s call them the good old days – kids grew up without their parents constantly hovering over them. They used to fall, get hurt and suffer from common illnesses. And parents used to react pretty normally. Today there is overwhelming and often contradictory knowledge at their fingertips. Information is fueled by forums full of comments – accurate and not-so-accurate – from other parents. The over-informed parent’s instincts are overwhelming and fear pushes even the seemingly normal parent into paranoid behavior. Some even become afraid of normal everyday behavior like driving their child in the car or allowing them to bath in the public’s mainstream water supply.
The paranoia eventually takes its toll on the parent. They ignore their degrading state for the sake of their child. This results in highly-stressed and abnormally controlling adults. The stress – left unchecked – can produce physical health problems.
The situation is obviously detrimental to children who aren’t allowed to live normal lives or to make a decision of their own. The result can be helpless – and often rebellious – children.
Experts note some of the keys to parenting that are missing here.
Parents should take it easy and not feel obligated to clear their child’s path of all obstacles. Part of growing up is overcoming obstacles.
A child can make mistakes and so can parents and it isn’t the end of the world.
A child needs to be allowed to do things when capable. Success means celebration. Failure means trying again – a little harder.
Perhaps a comparison will help to put the traits of a reasonable, involved parent in perspective.
|Helicopter Parent||Lawnmower Parent||Involved Parent|
|Pay too close attention to and orchestrate their kids’ entire lives. They talk a lot—and give too much advice.||Mow down all obstacles they see in their child’s path.||Know their kids well and stay connected to them. They listen a lot.|
|Hover over their kids so that their kids don’t make any mistakes or suffer any pain from experience.||Smooth over any problem their child has.||Give their kids space to grow up well while monitoring what’s happening to them.|
|Raise kids who are overly dependent, neurotic, and less open.||Make sure their kids always look perfect (and if they aren’t, they’ll intervene and make it better right away).||Allow their kids to make mistakes, suffer the consequences, and allow kids to solve their own problems.|
Here are some signs that help lawnmower parents to identify themselves:
- Before your child was even born, you found a new home for your dog and cat, just so there was zero chance that they might scratch or bite your baby.
- In an effort to squash play date fights before they happen, you hand-select meeker, younger kids as companions for your child. Anyone taller or older than your kid is a potential bully.
- If you spot an argument brewing between your child and another, you step in and break it up rather than letting the kids hash it out themselves. The other child’s parents purchase their own toy so no one has to share.
- By the age of 2 you’ve already signed your child up for golf and tennis – even though they are far too young to learn these sports.
- If your child is anywhere near the “cutoff” that would make him the youngest kid in class, you decide to hold him back a year, just so he could be one of the oldest, biggest kids – and in the lawnmower parent’s mind the class star.
- When it comes to homework, you check every answer for correctness – or just complete the assignments yourself. You’ve probably also learned to fake your child’s handwriting…
- You argue with teachers over every grade your child gets that isn’t an A. Anything lower will hurt the child’s chance of getting into a good college.
- You volunteer for the PTA because you know it will get you in good with your child’s teachers and the school principal.
- You network on behalf of your child – requesting summer internships, jobs, exclusive camp opportunities. You’ll later hit these folks up for glowing letters of recommendation for college.
- You not only fill out your child’s college applications, you even write the “personal” essay yourself – and boy is it impressive.
- Any application you submit on your child’s behalf is accompanied by a little something extra – cookies, spa gift certificates or impressive donations.
Resources: inquisitr.com, ParentFurther, thestir.com