Doesn’t it feel like every other day there is a new kind of parent? The newest breed to pop up is lawnmower parents, also known as snowplow parents or bulldozer parents. When we hear these words “lawnmower”, “snowplow” and “bulldozer” we already have in mind what these parents are….and we have probably formed our own judgments about it.
It is easy to judge. But parenting is hard. We all have to do what works best for us – but also for our children.
Lawnmower parents are excessively involved in their children’s lives. They micromanage, they interfere and they arrange things to protect their children from failure and disappointment. These parents “mow” over any obstacle or problem their child might face, as well as try to prevent any problems from happening in the first place.
Now, when you ask my girls about lawnmower parents, they think they are cool – but that is only because we attach a trailer to our lawnmower and let them ride around behind us, and we go fast. That is the only type of lawnmower parent I want to be for them.
Can we honestly protect our children from failure and disappointment?
I think that we all want the best for our children. We want them to grow and succeed. But that looks different for everyone. For me, I want my girls to understand failure and that it isn’t the end of the world. Disappointment also happens, but it is what we do with it that counts. I can’t protect them from failing and I can’t stop them feeling disappointed. And I don’t want to.
CHARACTERISTICS OF LAWNMOWER PARENTS:
- They don’t allow children to experience or handle conflict.
- They will start and then continue doing their children’s homework
- Will always rescue the child if they forgot their homework/project/equipment
- They will remove a child from hard activities rather than let them work through it
- Give in and give everything that the child wants
Lawnmower parents usually have good intentions, but this behavior backfires later. Conflict and problems help children to deal with frustrations. Being able to problem solve is a fantastic skill for everyone. Always being rescued is not going to set this future adult up for success.
If we are giving our kids the best of everything at every opportunity, they don’t have the practice to cope when life throws a curveball or gets messy. At these times the struggle will be huge.
We are not scared of big emotions in our household. Sometimes I wish they weren’t sooo big, but we are learning how to deal with disappointment or conflict. We have seen these emotions come out with friends – and we don’t just jump in and sort it all out. We do guide and make sure things are made right but we do not sort it out for them, remove them from the situation without resolution, or just take over.
It can be quick and easy to judge lawnmower parents. But for some, having grown up dealing with multiple struggles and overcoming them to various extents, they want to protect and save their own children from that. Frankly, that is to be commended – but you can go too far. You can make it harder for your children in the long run. And do you want to be one of “those” parents who come to job interviews and answer for your child? Is that helpful?
Let’s come back to judgement. These parents might be like this because they have overcome childhood trauma, and they are trying to do something different. This is where it is good to listen, and to encourage. We never really know what people have gone through.