We all know a helicopter parent (one who hovers) and a tiger mom (one who roars), but now there’s a new type of parent, the lawn mower. The first time I’d ever heard this term was in a divorce mediation when the husband accused his wife of lawn mower parenting. I had to ask, and this is what he told me: A lawn mower mom “mows down” any obstacle coming in the way of her kid. It’s my understanding that this obstacle can be a person or a thing, and the lawnmower parent attempts to remove the obstacle in a gesture of love and protection. Okay …
In the context of a divorce mediation, the accusing husband didn’t think this was a particularly good quality in his wife, nor did he think it was a helpful parenting technique . He accused his wife of making things too easy for their teenage daughter, and he was angry about it. The specific situation he mentioned was when their daughter accidentally left her iPhone at home. She borrowed a friend’s phone to frantically text her mother and the mother dropped everything to locate the phone, get in the car, and deliver it to the high school. The husband argued his point by saying that a day without her phone at school would teach their daughter a valuable lesson, but the wife just didn’t see his point. “It was no problem for me to bring it to her,” was the wife’s response.
So I started wondering about the message this lawn mower mom was conveying to her teenager. Is it a parent’s job to make life easier for the kids? Is it a parent’s job to take care of everything? Or are the kids better off learning through inconvenience or discomfort? Are lawn mower parents, no matter how well-intentioned, restricting their kids’ ability to learn how to resolve their own problems? What do lawn mower parents actually teach their kids?
“Let’s make sure that things are so perfectly habitable and enjoyable for them so that they’re completely unprepared for life,” my client virtually shouted at his wife. I’m not going to lie — that statement (and the tone in which it was conveyed) made me very uncomfortable. I don’t want to appear judgmental here. I simply want to explore what is a new concept for me so that I can better assist my clients. I’m a long way away from understanding it, and so, my friends, I look to you for your wisdom.
Lawn Mower Parenting? Please comment with your thoughts.
The guy was right (in my opinion). Children need to experience the consequence of their actions.
I have to say the mother is enabling her children to think that people, regardless if it’s a parent, a friend or relative, will do whatever it takes to give them a stress free life. The mom says it was no problem. I disagree, she had to drop whatever she was doing to get the phone to her. Now, was she thinking I want to be sure she can call me if there is a problem at school or on her way home? Did she even think that all her friends most likely have phones and if it was important she could use one of theirs? This sounds like a Mom who’s life revolves totally around her children and their needs which in turn does all you’ve said Nancy. It makes them unable to make decisions of analyzing a problem and taking steps to correct it.
If I told you all the things I did NOT do to give my son the ability to make his own decisions when problems arose, you may think I was a bad parent. He is now 44 and very self sufficient. Knows how to resolve problems when they arise and becomes creative when it seems like there is no way to fix it.
My parents did the same for me. I thought they were mean of course but now I’m so appreciative of how they taught me to be self sufficient.
There, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Maybe it comes down to the degree to which the parent takes care of everything for the child. Personally, I would have taken the phone to my daughter if I was home but would not have left work to go fetch it and take it to her at school. I’m also thinking, is this just a ne term for “spoiling” a child?
I was guilty of this type of parenting for years and now I am working on the natural consequences method your client (dad) suggested. It may be hard to watch your child suffer, but it is necessary that they are prepared for life.
This thread makes me appreciate not being a parent or grandparent. Makes me look for the eye rolling emoji!
Uuggh I know lots of these kinds of moms. Mine have tried that tactic to run things to school they forgot. I laughed, welcome to the world kid. They don’t make the mistake twice! My pat answer to them is the world doesn’t revolve around your head. I have actually heard them repeat that to people. My work has been done! Nice blog Nance! You make us look at things, I feel, more logically. Thank you!