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Lawnmower Parents: A New Low in Parenting Philosophies

Mother putting helmet on son's (10-11) head wrapped in bubble wrap

Helicopter parents are the worst. Or, rather, helicopter parents were the worst. It's 2018, so society has decided to up the ante. We now have lawnmower parents.

When I first heard about lawnmower parents, my mind immediately went to the summer after my sixth-grade year when my dad showed up with a new push mower and told me that I owed him 90 bucks. During that summer and the subsequent summers, I pushed that lawn mower all over my neighborhood and beyond. Let me tell you, it didn't take me very long to pay my dad that 90 bucks.

But, nope, that's not the approach to parenting that lawnmower parents refer to. If — like I was until this morning — you are unfamiliar with lawnmower parents, an anonymous teacher has published an article on We Are Teachers that provides an explanation:

Lawnmower parents go to whatever lengths necessary to prevent their child from having to face adversity, struggle, or failure. Instead of preparing children for challenges, they mow obstacles down so kids won’t experience them in the first place.

This teacher, who chose to remain anonymous so as not to run the risk of angering the lawnmower parents of his or her students, wisely (and graciously) writes:

I think that most lawnmower parents come from a good place. Maybe they experienced a lot of shame around failure as a child. Or maybe they felt abandoned by their parents in their moments of struggle, or dealt with more obstacles than most. Any of us—even non-parents—can empathize with the motivations of a person not wanting to see their child struggle.

But in raising children who have experienced minimal struggle, we are not creating a happier generation of kids. We are creating a generation that has no what idea what to do when they actually encounter struggle. A generation who panics or shuts down at the mere idea of failure. A generation for whom failure is far too painful, leaving them with coping mechanisms like addiction, blame, and internalization. The list goes on.

Summing it up, this teacher warns, "If we eliminate all struggle in children's younger years, they will not arrive at adulthood magically equipped to deal with failure."