Lawnmower Parents Are the New Helicopter Parents & We Are Not Here for It
Chances are, you’ve met this new breed of parent.
Recently, I was called down to the main office in the middle of my planning period. I needed to pick up an item that a parent dropped off for their child. Thinking it was something like an inhaler or money for dinner, I was happy to go retrieve it.
When I got to the front office, the parent was holding out a S’well bottle for me. You know, one of those 17-ounce insulated water bottles, barely bigger than a regular bottle of water.
“Hi, sorry,” the parent said sheepishly. He was in a suit, clearly headed to work (or something work-like). “Remy kept texting me that she needed it. I texted back, Don’t they have water fountains at your school?, but I guess she just had to have it out of the bottle.” He laughed, as if to say, Teenagers, am I right?
I took a deep breath through my nose. “Oh, I have one of those—I love mine, too,” I said. But I’m pretty sure my eyes were saying, WHAT ON THIS ACTUAL EARTH.
We’ve all heard of helicopter parents. But you may not have heard of the latest term for a troubling trend recently identified in parenting: lawnmower parents.
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.
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.