Chances are you’ve met this new breed of parents (or maybe! It’s someone you’re staring at in the mirror!) Nevertheless – Say ‘Hello’ to the new boss in town!
Lawnmower parenting is when a parent essentially mows down any obstacle in a child’s way so they never have to face disappointment or adversity. Moving a step further than the typical hovering helicopter parent, the lawnmower parent gets ahead of their child, smoothing and clearing the path before they have even taken a step outside. Well, however ‘rose petal- lly’ that might sound for now, it sure isn’t helping kids in the long run.
True, as a parent there is always that constant guilt and pain when you see your child struggle through the slightest of challenges and discomfort – no matter how temporary. But realize, when children are in charge of their own play, through risk-taking, decision-making and problem-solving, they begin to master a repertoire of skills that will guide their decisions surrounding limits, boundaries and personal safety throughout their entire life.
Carving out a bump-free , instagram worthy childhood may feel like a good idea, but actually, the evidence is pointing towards the latter. Allowing children to climb trees, bumps, bruises and all – builds character, resilience and problem-solving skills that will stay will them for life.
Think about this the next time you’re trying to mow down something from your child’s path, just so that they have a smooth walk ahead.
- She becomes poorly equipped to deal with routine growing and learning experiences. This includes everything from asking for directions and dealing with an annoying roommate to much broader skills like communicating with superiors, negotiating for something she wants and coping with disappointment.
- She doesn’t develop a sense of personal motivation or drive, since she only knows how to follow the path and direction that the Lawnmower Parent has already prepared.
- She can’t make a decision, big or small, without the guidance of others.
- She constantly receives the message that she isn’t good enough to do this herself. In essence, the Lawnmower Parent is repeatedly demonstrating to the child that she cannot be trusted to accomplish things on her own.
Instead, give her opportunities to learn strength and self-confidence, so she can handle future challenges with grace. Here is what you do differently:
- TRUST your kid to do well, and tell her repeatedly that you believe that she can make good decisions on her own. Give her room to make mistakes, even major ones sometimes, and learn from them together.
- With school age kids: Start practicing now! Let your kid do the talking as often as possible: ordering at restaurants, asking for directions, or calling a friend on the phone to ask for a playdate instead of arranging it yourself via text message.
- With high school kids: while there is still room for parental involvement at this age, insist that your child attempt all communication on her own first. If she needs to solve for an argument at school, let her try first,and only intervene AFTER she has made the first attempt on her own. If she has a conflict between music class and skating lessons, have her discuss the possibilities with the involved groups, then have her make the decision and deal with the potential consequences.
So moms and dads around the world – let the kids roll on the lawn, because if you’ve got them prepared today – nothing is going to mow them down in the future.