You’ve probably heard the term “helicopter parents” before, which refers to parents who are overprotective of their child, aka they “hover” like a helicopter. Typically, this involves parents trying to be overly involved in any experience or problem their child is facing, especially with education.
Sounds a little overbearing, right? Helicopter parents have been long since ridiculed for not letting their children handle their own problems, and therefore not allowing them to learn on their own for when problems happen and parents can’t help.
While it may sound like it can’t het any worse, it actually can. There’s a new type of parent in town, and they may even top helicopter parents in terms of being too involves in their child’s life.
The new phenomenon is called “lawnmower parents.”
What is a “lawnmower parent”?
“Lawnmower parents go to whatever lengths necessary to prevent their child from having to face adversity, struggle, or failure,” says an anonymous person at the WeAreTeachers community. “Instead of preparing children for challenges, they mow obstacles down so kids won’t experience them in the first place.”
While helicopter parents have their eyes always glued to their kids, lawnmower parents take it one step further and actually try to prevent any obstacles from occurring before they even happen. Imagine trying to avoid every pitfall in your life? Chances are, you’re only going to create more problems.
“While their intentions are good, the consequences are devastating,” notes Amy Morin, a psychotherapist, in an article for Inc.
Consequences of being a lawnmower parent
What’s so bad about trying to prevent problems for their kids? For one thing, lawnmower parents aren’t letting their kids develop problem-solving skills since they never really have to figure things out for themselves.
“Good problem-solving skills are essential but I see college students who don’t know how to get help or where to turn when they encounter everyday problems, like a tough assignment or a broken appliance,” Morin says. “They’ve never had to figure things out for themselves and without a parent there to fix everything, even the slightest obstacles have the power to keep them stuck.”
Additionally, Morin explains that children of lawnmower parents lack confidence. “Lawnmower parents treat their kids as if they’re too fragile to deal with life,” she says. “They think they’re sending a message that says, ‘I love you,’ when they remove obstacles from their child’s path. But their kids are actually learning, ‘I can’t do this on my own.’”
What’s more, lawnmower parents can inadvertently cause their children to think that it isn’t okay to ever feel any emotions other than positive ones—which is far from the truth. As you can imagine, it’s impossible to prevent every terrible thing from happening, so in the moments they can’t protect their kids, what happens?
“Kids need to know that it’s OK to feel distress—being sad, scared, or angry isn’t the end of the world,” Morin explains. “Learning how to cope with those emotions is key to self-discipline, a necessary component in positive well-being.”
Morin does have some sound advice for any parent who may realize they’re being lawnmower-esque. And it’s simple: Back down. “It’s important to back off and let your child gain experience dealing with adversity,” she says. “Backing off a bit could be the kindest, most loving thing you could do.”
To learn more about the consequences of lawnmower parenting, check out the video below.
Have you ever heard of a lawnmower parent before? Did you know the consequences could be this significant?