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.