The term lawnmower parenting really came to light with the recent college admissions scandals, whereby some celebrity and other wealthy parents reportedly paid money and altered details in order to get their kids into prestigious schools. What is lawnmower parenting? Similar to helicopter parenting, it’s essentially a style of parenting where the parents “mow down” any obstacle that might get in the way of their child’s progress, happiness, success – you name it.
At first glance, it sounds wonderful. And in many cases, the parents are coming from a place of love and really want to help and nurture their children. But lawnmower parenting isn’t really a great idea, according to many experts. Here’s everything you need to know about it.
10 Lawnmowers Parents Are Considered The New Helicopter Parents
Remember the term helicopter parents? These are parents who hover over their child’s every move, helping them with homework (maybe even doing it for them), making them lunches when they’re teenagers, and swooping in whenever needed, long passed the days when a parent should be doing as such.
But the idea of helicopter parents are out and lawnmower parents are in. They’re much more aggressive in their tactics, hence the analogy to a powerful outdoor tool that literally mows down grass and anything in its path. The child is standing behind the parent, and parent is getting rid of every obstacle for them so they have a smooth path to move forward.
9 They Eliminate Obstacles In Their Child’s Way
As noted, the concept of the lawnmower parent is one who will protect their child at all costs from feeling any physical, social, or emotional pain. They shield them from any hardship so as to prevent them from getting hurt, keeping them healthy and happy. At least this is the intention, and often the surface-level result.
Of course, what’s missing from this scenario is that obstacles are necessary in order for a child, or anyone, for that matter, to learn, grow, and understand how to surmount them.
8 It Could Result In Kids Who Can’t Accept Failure
Unfortunately, lawnmower parenting can lead to children who have never had the chance to experience failure. When they go out into the real world as adults, they have no idea how to process failure, which is something that really can't be avoided.
Imagine if a parent always had the soccer coach give their child a “good game” pat on the back when they were terrible, or re-did their child’s homework when they were sleeping so they’d get a better grade. Or told them their dinner creation was fantastic, not revealing that they added missing ingredients when they weren’t looking. The child would grow up never experiencing failure while also potentially getting a giant complex that they were great at everything.
7 Kids Might Grow Up Unable To Process Disappointment
In addition to being unable to process failure, lawnmower parenting can lead to kids who have no idea what it feels like to be disappointed... until they do. And then they panic because it’s a sensation that they’ve never felt before.
It doesn’t matter how small or seemingly insignificant things might be throughout a child’s life that they should learn to be disappointed about. If they aren’t able to feel disappointed for not achieving the best, not getting into the school they wanted, or not being selected for a lead part in the play, how will they ever get through adult life where disappointment abounds?
6 It Could Make Kids Feel As Though Their Parents Don’t Have Confidence In Them
What’s more, once the children of lawnmower parents realize what their parents have done, whether it was paid someone off to help them get admitted to college or urged the soccer coach to give them MVP of the game even though they didn’t play well, they may begin to feel as though their parents don’t have confidence in them.
This could make kids start doubting their own abilities when, in actuality, they might very well be fully capable of getting into a school on their own, might be better off at another school anyway, or might have worked harder for the next game if they realized their performance wasn’t up to par in the last one.
5 It Prevents Kids From Learning
The only way for someone to learn is to experience something. And when lawnmower parents get rid of obstacles in kids’ ways, they prevent them from having the chance to use those obstacles as learning experiences.
Experiencing different challenges allows kids to learn how to adapt, change, and react to things. And that’s a critical skill for anyone to possess, and especially important for kids to develop at a young age. If you don’t fail, you can’t learn. And if lawnmower parents have their ways, their kids will never experience failure.
4 It’s Fueled By Social Media Pressure, Online Bullying
It’s understandable why lawnmower parenting is far more prevalent today than in the past. Parents today have to deal with challenges that parents of previous generations never had to, such as online (and in-person) bullying, social media, and the internet on the whole.
However, while parents should be more diligent about what they’re kids are doing, and there are things they do need to protect them from that didn’t exist 20, 15, even 10 years ago, lawnmower parenting can take things too far.
3 Kids Often Don’t Get To Make Their Own Decisions
With lawnmower parenting, kids often don’t get the chance to make their own decisions, which prevents them from developing their own sense of independence, autonomy, and individual identity. If you are always ordering your child’s food for them at restaurants, picking out their clothes, or even apartment hunting for them, for example, how will they ever be able to feel comfortable doing things on their own?
Sure, parents still need to make some decisions for their kids. For example, if your fourth-grader wants to wear shorts to school in the dead of winter, obviously that isn’t going to fly. But giving them some control can go a long way.
2 It Often Backfires
While the majority of lawnmower parents have the best intentions in mind, lawnmower parenting can actual backfire and accomplish the exact opposite of what was desired. Being so over-involved in a child’s life leaves the child unable to figure things out on their own.
Nothing in life is easy, and if kids grow up thinking everything is because their parents have mowed down obstacles that they should have learned how to deal with on their own, they won’t come out ahead but will go through life thinking everything should be smooth sailing. And when it isn’t, they won’t understand why.
1 It Can Also Be Called Snowplow Parenting or Bulldozer Parenting
While lawnmower parenting is the most known description of this type of parenting, it might also be referred to in other ways. Another common name is snowplow parenting, ideally used by those who live in places where snow falls seasonally and understand the power of a snowplow. For those who live in typically warmer climates, or prefer a bigger, more exaggerated analogy, it can also be called bulldozer parenting.
Whatever the name, the sentiment is always the same: it describes parents who do everything in their power to mow down, plow away, or bulldoze obstacles in their childrens’ lives.