I was chatting with a classroom teacher and mentioned something about helicopter parents. You know, those moms and dads who hover over their kids for every little thing. “Oh no, Bryan, that’s not the latest. We are now seeing lawnmower parents. They don’t just hover over their kids — they walk in front of them for everything that may be in the way and cut a clear, smooth path.” Walk in front of their kids is putting it mildly. Bulldozing through is a better picture of the mind.
This parenting style doesn’t end when Bradley or Susie head off to university (after mommy and daddy did all the applications for them). Questioning the college professor about grades and even writing papers for Joe College Student and emailing to them hours before due? Yep, it happens more than you think. Talk about modeling total lack of integrity. Gee.
The problem? Simply put, we are seriously cheating our kids from how to master mowing their own lawns. My number one goal of the responsible parent is to do and not do those things that will allow children to mature into responsible young adults and be independent of their parents. No, I’m not saying disengaged from the parent, never visiting the parent or no longer loving the parent — just to live independently. To be gainfully employed and living on his or her own is the key. And of course if so de-sired, starting their own family.
So why do these parents mow or bulldoze a path in front of their kids? It may be rather perplexing to understand, but honestly, I get it. The bottom line is that lawnmower parents don’t trust those others who are normally entrusted to children. Teachers, coaches, babysitters (oh, sorry, they don’t hire those because they never do anything without the kids) and even the pediatrician for crying out loud. Yes, these parents will Google the symptoms and argue with the pediatrician in order to mow that lawn cor-rectly. Kind of scary in my book.
Again, lawnmower parent, I get it. You don’t trust others. But it begs the question of the day. If you idolize your children so emphatically because they are oh so wonderful, why don’t you trust them?
You see, lawnmower parents are mowing the yard but they are not planting the seeds. Seeds? Seeds of trust in their child’s abilities. None. Parents must trust the child and others responsible for them to do their jobs. Homework, making the team on skill and merit and not parental influence or harassment, or even allowing the Eagle Scout candidate to do his own Eagle Scout project to name a few. Trust. If you want to implant confidence in little Susie or Bradley you better be showing them that you trust them and others who teach, guide and lead them.
You can counter the trend of parents rearing kids who grow into insecure, enabled young adults by al-lowing them to learn and fend for themselves. Life is not a well-manicured lawn. It’s more like a jungle. Teach your kids how to swing that machete and cut their own paths with some guidance — and park the lawnmower in the garage.