What is Lawnmower Parenting and Why is it so Detrimental to Your Children?
Lawnmower parenting has been around for years but it picked up steam after an anonymous article was posted on a popular website for teachers. Since this trend is buzzing, it is something that needs to be talked about. It’s a parenting style that has made us appreciate helicopter parents and tiger moms even more.
Lawnmower parents are the overprotective parents who cannot stand to see their children struggle. Their intentions may be good but the consequences of such parenting are devastating. Before you follow this trend, you must understand that you are only setting up your kids for a lifetime of failures.
Some of us are already guilty of being lawnmowers. Just evaluate how you are raising your child whether it’s a toddler, preschooler, teen, or tween. You could be making your toddler wear a space suit whenever leaving home so they don’t catch germs, making your teen’s friends pass through a rigorous screening process to approve, or constantly checking their bedroom during the night to make sure they are sleeping. These are certainly signs that you love your child unconditionally but you could be preventing them from growing into independent and emotionally healthy adults.
Lawnmower parents are willing to intervene and mow down any obstacle that stands in the way of their child. This style of parenting, just like helicopter parenting, focuses on short-term goals. Such parents think “If I could make this thing easier for my child, why wouldn’t I do it?” When you are constantly removing obstacles from the life of your child, you are taking away their opportunities to learn problem-solving techniques and other skills.
Lawn-mowing parenting is not healthy for your children!
I would like to shed some light on ways lawnmower parenting hamper your children’s success:
They won’t learn how to deal with life
The sting of rejection and the pain of failure could disappoint your child but it doesn’t mean you go above and beyond to solve every problem. If you do that, you are keeping them from developing emotional skills. They won’t be prepared for life after high school. They won’t be able to deal with conflict, loneliness, boredom, and anxiety on their own because they never got to experience these emotions before.
Early life stress actually expands the regions of the brain that help control resiliency. For example, if you console your child for receiving bad grades on paper, you are not benefiting them. You should instead be teaching a lesson that helps in character building and prepares them for the future.
Their problem-solving skills will be zero
When you remove the problem before even your child knows it existed, how will they develop problem-solving skills? Scheduling meetings or calling your kid to ensure they wake up on time, etc. could make parents act more like personal concierges rather than authority figures. Imagine your child is in college and he doesn’t know how to get help. They must have the skills to figure out things without the help of parents. If your children don’t struggle, they will never learn and their character will never build.
You are shattering their confidence
Removing obstacles from the life of your child means you are making them learn they can’t handle anything on their own. Your child will hence grow up with self-doubt and anxiety. Their insecurities will make them feel they are incompetent.
You are fostering poor mental health
Your parenting style doesn’t allow your kids to gain coping skills. It is understandable that you want them to be happy but ironically, you are sabotaging their long-term well-being. You can’t take full responsibility for your child’s emotions by regulating how they feel.
The American Psychological Association Commission conducted a study on stress in America. Results revealed that the younger generation is more stressed out than the older generation. Millennials and Generation X reported a higher level of stress than the baby boomers. The study also revealed that when parents control the social sphere of their child, they hinder them from growing and developing essential social skills that help them during their adulthood. Sheltered children miss out on so many learning opportunities. Lawnmower parenting actually makes your child maladapted to the real world, which can take a toll on their mental health.
Signs you are a lawnmower parent
If you are a lawnmower parent, you are simply removing your child’s discomfort in the short run rather than focusing on their needs in the long run. You must evaluate your parenting style if you want your child to grow into a healthy, confident, and adaptive adult. These are the signs that indicate you are a lawnmower parent:
- You do their laundry, clean their room, and even their dinner plates. In short, you are doing all their chores for them.
- Whenever your child comes home with a bad grade, you blame their teacher. You are even ready to talk to their teacher to cut them some slack or give extra time to complete a homework assignment.
- You don’t hesitate in stopping by their school to give them their forgotten belongings even though you are running late from work.
- You step into any situation that would make them uncomfortable. You are the one handling their business instead of letting them tackle the situation.
- You intervene in the sibling fights and even friend fights. Rather than letting your child figure out a way to solve the conflict, you remove the catalyst for them.
- You help them with their homework. Instead of letting them do the research, you come to their rescue every time.
You may not be doing all the above, it could even be one; but if you are handling a few or too many aspects of your child’s life, you must stop!
If lawnmower parenting is so bad, then using parental controls should be bad, too?
Since lawnmower parenting means you are being over-protective, some parents are arguing that using smartphone monitoring apps could mean the same. Well, not really. Whether it is built-in parental controls in apps that our kids use on a daily basis (like YouTube, Netflix etc.) or parenting apps, they are meant to protect our kids from harmful exposure. If you are putting screen-time limits on your child’s tablet or smartphone by using parental control device locking features, you are not keeping them from developing skills.
In fact, you are disciplining them and teaching them how to use technology in a healthy way. Likewise, with the location tracking feature and geo-fencing, you are making sure you know where your kid is without having to inquire about it. Since social media is full of vices such as cyberbullying, body shaming, online predators, catfishing, etc., to keep a check on your children’s mental health, parents have no choice but to monitor their conversations from time to time.
Supervising their digital lives isn’t a bad thing if you are teaching how to protect themselves from the lurking online dangers via monitoring app for parents or any other similar app like Qustodio. In fact, when you don’t set these boundaries, you are exposing your children to dangers that could leave a mark on their lives for a long time. With that being said, lawnmower parenting and using parental controls are not the same things.
How to tell the difference between helping and mowing things for your children?
I know, I know, you must be wondering how you can be sure you are actually helping your child and not being a lawnmower parent. No parent wants to see their child fail. They simply want to set their children up for success. Whenever you are stuck between helping and mowing, consider your child’s future. That will make it easier for you to decide. Back away and let your child gain experience by dealing with adverse situations. That, in fact, is the most loving thing you could do for them.