Lawnmower Parents Are Replacing Helicopter Parents As Educators' Worst Enemy


Most people have heard of the term, "helicopter parents" over recent years. In fact, perhaps some of you reading this even self identify as a helicopter parent yourself. A helicopter parent is basically described as a parent who is overly protective of their children and always hovering over them to solve their problems and ensure they are never in harms way.

Many thought the helicopter parent was a teachers worst nightmare, but it seems there's a new kind of overly protective parent in town, and while they think they're just helping their kids out, they're actually doing the exact opposite.

Lawnmower parents are the new helicopter parents and teachers, educators, and employers alike have had enough! While helicopter parents tend to hover over their children, trying to prevent them from getting hurt on the playground or from ever having to get their hands dirty, lawnmower parents simply 'mow down' any obstacles in their child's way, making them completely unprepared when they are forced to think and do for themselves.

PREVIOUSLY: 5 Little Ways Helicopter Parents Can Let Go

An article written by a teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, was recently posted on the We Are Teachers website and has quickly gone viral. The post, which details this one teacher's most recent run-in with a lawnmower parent, illustrates why parents are doing more harm to their children than good by trying to make their life as easy as possible. The teacher explained a scenario in which she was called to the office to pick up a water bottle a parent was dropping off for his child, because despite the school having plenty of water fountains available, his child,  "just had to have it out of the bottle."

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

dad walking daughter to school
Credit: iStock / Nadezhda1906

While the teacher points out that most parents and their desire to remove any and all obstacles their child may face comes from a position of simply wanting to help their children, they're actually hurting them by removing the need to be self sufficient and problem solve on their own.

"In raising children who have experienced minimal struggle, we are not creating a happier generation of kids," the teacher points out. "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. If we eliminate all struggle in children’s younger years, they will not arrive at adulthood magically equipped to deal with failure."

The teacher goes on to give other examples of lawnmower parenting, such as contacting a teacher for a project extension instead of having the student contact the teacher themselves, or not sufficiently preparing your child with how to deal with disappointment and failure so when they grow older and attend college or get their first job, they have no clue how to deal with bad grades or being reprimanded for bad behaviour. Instead of accepting responsibility and working harder, many fear these kids will be more likely to place the blame anywhere but squarely on their shoulders.

The author points out that while there are definitely extenuating circumstances, such as children who deal with mental illness or anxiety, it is still important to let kids deal with adversity on their own. Parents can't always be there to solve their problems for them, because then they never learn to do it themselves.

"If we want our children to be successful, healthy adults, we must teach them how to process through their own challenges, respond to adversity, and advocate for themselves."

Are you guilty of being a lawnmower parent? Do you know others who are?

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