Lawnmower parents: The hot-button topic of the year that's causing some major controversy among parents, educators, and the like. So what is it? The act of "lawnmowing" as a parent means that there's no instance where a parent is hands-off. Even more so, it means that a parent will go out of their way to eliminate or "mow down" an obstacle that would potentially be in their child's way. Essentially, parents who follow this method are deliberately destroying potential issues for their children before their child has a chance to experience any of it.
As one can probably guess, this can cause plenty of significant problems in a child's life. For one, they'll be sheltered from nearly everything and will have zero life experience. It basically stunts their mental growth while adding problems to their mental health, something which will need to be dealt with further on down the line. While it's perfectly fine to shield from certain things (a hot stove, matches, germs), it's not conducive to the act of growing up to withhold everything from them. By doing this, all a parent is offering is a protected, dull life that's not realistic in any way whatsoever, thus hindering their child more than helping them.
20 It's No Different Than Sheltering
When it comes to parenting, it becomes incredibly easy to shelter a child from something you don't want them to experience. This may come from personal experience or even from the sheer fear of a child being mentally harmed or disappointed. The problem with this logic is that it can rapidly get out of hand, resulting in keeping the world from them rather than discerning what they can handle and what they can't.
A child will eventually grow up and keeping from them what the world has to offer inhibits their growth and development. They need to be exposed to both the good and the bad to learn and overcome.
19 Parents Effectively Take Away All Emotion
If a child never experiences anything other than the same repeated status quo they've grown used to, will they ever feel real emotion? It is possible to keep a child in a bubble and sadly, many parents don't realize the disservice they're doing to their growing child. Legally, a child becomes an adult at 18; however, for some parents, a child continues to be a child well into their 20s.
Regardless of how much a parent feels they need to keep their child safe, they also need to let them leave the nest in order to be a functioning human being. Becoming a member of society often comes with heartache, pain, and hurt, but it also with happiness, accomplishment, pride, and strength.
18 Nothing Comes From Not Dealing With Problems
If a child has math homework and their parent steps in, solves the problems for them, and then sends them off to school the next day to be tested on it -- Does that help them any? This is a very realistic allegory for real life and what many kids experience when their parents step over the line. Refusing to relinquish control only results in the slowed-down growth rate of a child.
While the outside world can be full of surprises, it will also teach a child far more than they can learn behind closed doors. This doesn't mean that an eight-year-old should be walking across a busy street on their own, but it does mean they can hold onto someone's hand and walk rather than being carried.
17 It's Conducive To Socially Stunting A Child
It's not just a child's emotional development that will be stunted with effective lawnmower parenting. Their social life will also take a hit, as they won't know how to interact or react when thrown into a conversation. One thing that many young children are fearless toward is social interaction; when a child is constantly sheltered and kept away from things, they'll naturally be shy and antisocial.
This can hurt them tremendously as they progress through school and can even resurface later on in the form of anxiety or depression. Everything a parent does when a child is young will shape them for the future, good or bad.
16 Confidence Dips Significantly Low
This is possibly the biggest detriment for a child with a lawnmower parent. Rather than allowing them to go out on their own, make choices and, by extension, make mistakes, a child will never have the chance to build confidence. The only thing they'll be confident in is how well their parent can handle an issue for them. Obviously, this isn't conducive to anything, let alone being a capable adult.
Millennials are desperate for independence and their own pride in the first place, and having a controlling, hovering parent can only hurt them more. At a certain age, they need to be able to make their own choices and take responsibility for themselves and their own actions -- not their parents'.
15 It's A Good Way To Bring About Poor Mental Health
As previously stated, constantly jumping in to handle situations for a child can lead to serious mental debilitations further on down the line. Parents have every right to help a child work their way through a certain issue -- however, at a certain point, they need to back up and let their child figure things out on their own. If your child is old enough to get in trouble at school, then they're old enough to talk to their teacher or principal without a parent stepping in to bail them out every time.
Additionally, as a teenager and older, a kid should have free reign of their future and what they choose to do with it. They should be allowed to figure this out on their own, knowing they can come to their parent if they get stuck.
14 Strength Is Earned And Instilled, Not Automatic
Constantly dealing with a child's issues before they even have a chance to recognize them will not make them stronger. While someone can be naturally inclined to be strong mentally, this doesn't mean that they always will be without the chance to exercise that. Strength can be built which means it can also be destroyed and the easiest way to do this is by taking it away. By eliminating the need for a child to be strong, all a parent is doing is suppressing their ability to do so in the future. What might come off as good-natured and helpful parenting is really just inhibiting and preventing a child from picking themselves back up.
13 Kids Lose Their Chance To Learn
No one ever learned anything from being constantly shielded from the world. When the world, and life itself, has so much to teach, what good does it do to prevent a child from exploring it? The Millenial generation has made a name for itself via self-discovery and exploration, making it one of the most innovative and ambitious, albeit slightly arrogant, generations to this day.
Taking that ability away from a child is a slap in the face rather than a helpful piece of parenting. When it comes down to it, we want kids to experience all that their life has to offer but we also want to encourage them to go out and grab it by the ping pongs, not sit inside in fear of it.
12 Mistakes Are Crucial For Learning And Growth
Going back to the analogy of testing in regard to experiencing life, if a child doesn't get questions wrong on a test, do they ever figure out what they need to learn more about? The answer is a resounding "no." A child learns by messing up and making their own mistakes. It's in the correction and allowance of re-orienting that these mistakes turn into learning experiences.
If a child is never given the chance to make a mistake then they'll a) consistently have an idea of misinterpreted perfection, and b) they'll never know what it's like to go after something and not succeed. There's no way to be a successful adult if they're not allowed to do this simple act of growing up.
11 Eventually, The Lawnmowing Seeps Into Every Aspect Of Life
Whether it's school, their personal life, friendships, or eventual jobs and career, the bad thing about lawnmower parenting is that it spreads like a disease. Once a parent has instilled within their child that they'll never need to try new things or be on their own, that makes it ten times harder for a child to function without them.
A parent can only protect their child for so long before handing off the reigns but when this doesn't happen, a child leads a life under false expectations, unrealistic understandings, and unattainable goals... without their parent achieving it for them, that is.
10 Kids Will Expect More From Others Without Earning It
If issues are constantly being dealt with for them then you can imagine this would lead to a fairly awkward external life for a child. If a fight transpires between them and a friend, who's there to handle it: parents or the kids themselves? If a parent handles it, then a child learns absolutely nothing of resolving a conflict or strengthening a friendship.
This also makes them somewhat of an outcast, as any other child who has been left to handle things on their own will think it awfully strange. Many parents simply don't realize that they're doing more harm than good by being involved without limitation.
9 Isolation Is A Possible Outcome
This is absolutely an outcome of lawnmower parenting because it's not the easiest thing to hide when a parent is constantly coming to the rescue. Eventually, kids will usually reach a certain age where they actually want to handle things in their own way.
While this obviously isn't always the case, more often than not, a child will come into their own if given that space. By the time they're preteens, they should be exercising their own independence with their friends, studies, etc. If they're not given that space, they could face isolation as everyone else comes into their own and grows up.
8 Maturity Levels Sink
Sadly, a child will have little chance of boosting their maturity if they're not left to their own free will. By the time a child reaches the age of 18, they should be making the decision of whether or not they want to attend college or jump into a career. This is maturity that only comes with the act of letting go by a parent.
While in their 20s, a child learns the most crucial aspects of life, including romance, career-handling, and even paying bills, rent, and student loans. All of these things are so vital to the act of growing up and to defy them is to deny a child their natural right to grow up and be an adult.
7 Kids May Have A Hard Time Grasping Reality
Nothing good ever came from a child's reality being handled for them. The real world takes no mercy on those who don't come prepared and unless a parent is planning on keeping their child under their wing forever, they'll likely learn this.
Not everything will work out and they may even end up back at home but the point of the matter is that they tried and learned what not to do next time. Failing isn't the worst thing in the world and for all a parent knows, their child might succeed effortlessly... But they need to be given the chance to do so, to go out and spread their wings.
6 Mental Strength Is More Important In Today's World
It's astonishing how much times have changed from a mere ten years ago. It's more important now than ever that a kid knows how to both shield themselves from negativity as well as how to encourage positivity. This is something they'll never get the chance to do if their parent is always keeping them from it.
Exercising this right in relationships, friendships, with jobs, etc., is an important part of learning how to grow up. A parent has a very special job in keeping a child safe until they become old enough to handle themselves -- This is when letting go becomes a large part of a parental lesson. The best we can do is let them go but remind them they'll always have help nearby.
5 A Child Will Be Unable To Form Their Own Opinions
Having the ability to form your own opinion in today's day and age seems like it's something that kids learn the second they pop out of the womb. While this isn't exactly true, it is accurate to say that the world is full of ideas, theories, and beliefs. By hindering a child's potential to hear and interact with these, we can say with certainty that they'll be lesser inclined to have their own.
This not only dulls their confidence but leaves them without worldly experience that they could gain from hearing the ideas of others. Not having a personal opinion means potentially not knowing your own likes and dislikes, leading to a loss of identity.
4 Kids Could Begin To Panic Over Every Little Thing
Similar to instilling a fear of germs in a child at a young age, by protecting them from everything, a parent could be encouraging a "fight or flight" response without realizing it. Kids learn from watching their parents and when they see their parents handling everything for them, they'll begin to associate this with something to be anxious about.
When they're then left to handle anything on their own - whether it be big or small - they'll panic at the thought. This is in part due to the tremendous inexperience, but also due to the fact that they've watched their parents do this without sharing that knowledge or know-how.
3 It Prevents Responsibility And Risk-Taking
Very similar to sheltering or "helicopter parenting," lawnmower parenting is not conducive to an adventurous lifestyle. It's not even conducive to a normal lifestyle, as kids will never be able to take risks on their own accord. With minimal life experience in handling problems, there's virtually no way that a child can even become involved in a situation with no way of knowing how to handle the outcome.
Preventing issues from reaching your child is an extremely protective measure and rather than handling it with them, all parents are doing is handling it for them... There is no lesson to be learned there, except on the part of a parent.
2 Dependency And Separation Anxiety
As you may have guessed already, "mowing" down obstacles that stand in a child's way will obviously prevent them from ever experiencing them. This is also a great cause for significant dependency, even more so than a child would normally have on a parent. If this becomes a consistent behavior as a child grows up, it'll become obvious to them that they can't handle anything on their own.
They'll also be so clueless as they grow up that they'll have no choice but to return to their parents repeatedly. There's no shame whatsoever in turning to your parents -- every child should feel comfortable doing this -- but they should also be able to process and gauge situations on their own while taking responsibility for their part in it.
1 It Goes Beyond Simply Being "Dependent"
There's a significant difference between being "dependent" and being "helpless". While that might be a harsh way of phrasing it, it's the truth. A child can be dependent on their parents, but they can also be helpless in their own life when it comes to being an adult and knowing what to do. Without experiencing life in bits and pieces as they grew up, they'd have no way of examining, process, and gauging their own real-life situations.
It becomes imperative to let a little bit of real life seep into their childhood and teenage life in order to prevent them from being helpless at an adult age. Give them partial responsibility, allow them to make their own decisions, and encourage them to go after what they want, even if they're not as afraid as their parents are. Kids need to be in charge of their own lawnmowers at a certain point rather than watching someone else cut the lawn for them.
Resources: inc.com, chicagotribune.com, grownandflown.com