Lawnmower parent: are parents doing too much for their child?

by Jessica W.

Every parent wants the best for their child. Children whose parents are highly involved in their lives by providing developmentally appropriate structure have better academic, emotional and social outcomes. They also have more positive peer relationships and fewer behavior problems at school (Schiffrin et al., 2013). However, if the parent does not foster a child’s development appropriately, they may struggle with anxiety and depression, an example of this would be a lawnmower parent. There are many parents in today’s society that are considered a ‘lawnmower’ parent. These parents can be considered ones who walk in front of their child clearing everything that comes in the way making a smooth clear pathway. The goal of this lawnmower parent is to free their child of any anxiety or harm. However, these parents are cheating their children of mastering their own lawns and clearing any obstacles that may come in the way, therefore creating a negative developmental structure for the child.

This phenomenon of the lawnmower parent is well-intentioned, but inappropriate. Commonly lawnmower parents are strict and full of anxiety the moment their child is born and possibly even before the birth of the child. These parents have an excessive anxiety of their child’s safety and don’t trust others surrounding their child. Lawnmower parents may avoid babysitters, teachers, coaches and even physicians…some of these parents may actually argue and disagree with their child’s pediatrician to assure that they’re getting the proper diagnosis. From an article by Bryan Greeson (2015) he states that these parents even push their limits once the child is in college by contacting professors about their children’s grades and even doing the work for the child. If my parents were to contact professors arguing the grades I received I would be so embarrassed; however, sometimes these children are unaware of their parents actions.

Unsurprisingly, there’s going to come a point in these children’s lives when they won’t have their parents to lean on. If these children of the lawnmower parents decide to have children of their own, they will have difficulty teaching independence, confidence and work ethic. Also these future parents will lack the ability to discipline their child or children since they haven’t learned these assets themselves. Therefore, by having or being a lawnmower parent you are actually creating a negative environment for your child. These children will not be able to grow and develop as well as those children who had non-lawnmower parents. By providing a positive development as parents, youth are more likely to succeed.

I can’t personally relate to being raised by a lawnmower parent, growing up my parents were laid back and supportive but also had rules that I had to follow or there were consequences, pretty much your average parents. However, growing up I had a friend whose mom can be considered a lawnmower parent. Growing up with this friend I remember her mom used to tell her that she wasn’t allowed to go to any of her friends houses to play, she insisted that her friends must come to their house instead. Also this mother would always be coming to school dropping off her daughter lunch and checking in on how she was doing as well as always having parent teacher meetings. As far as college and university goes I’m sure this mother is butting her nose in contacting the daughters professors questioning the marks in which the daughter received.

Obviously, I don’t believe that there are any benefits of lawnmower parents. I think that parents should be there to guide and support their child and teach them how to deal with real life situations. The affects of being that over active parent leads to the child acting out and misbehaving, nonetheless it also leads to mental health problems. Therefore don’t be an overbearing parent, create a positive developmental environment for your child and guide it to success.

References:

Schiffrin, H.H., Liss, M., Miles-McLean, H. et al. J Child Fam Stud (2014) 23: 548. doi:10.1007/s10826-013-9716-3

Greeson, B. (2015). Move over helicopter parents, meet the lawnmower parents. Gaston Gazette. Retrieved 3 November 2016, from http://www.gastongazette.com/article/20151130/NEWS/151139937

Locke, J. Y., Campbell, M. A., & Kavanagh, D. (2012). Can a parent do too much for their child? An examination by parenting professionals of the concept of over parenting. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling22(02), 249-265.

Desai, A. & Desai, A. (2016). Here Come The Lawnmower Parents, A Breed That Is More Aggressive Than Helicopter Parents. The Inquisitr News. Retrieved 3 November 2016, from http://www.inquisitr.com/1535202/here-come-the-lawnmower-parents-a-breed-that-is-more-aggressive-than-helicopter-parents/

 

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Parents, Positive Youth Development and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Lawnmower parent: are parents doing too much for their child?

  1. nicolaunb says:

    Great post Jess!!

    I completely agree with you that this phenomenon of a “lawnmower parent” is well intentioned, but inappropriate and unnecessary. Growing up, my parents were very aware of what I was doing and where I was at times, but also gave me the freedom to do what I wanted during my spare time. They pushed me to explore different hobbies growing up; as they believed the best way to learn was from making mistakes.

    These “lawnmower parents” treat their kids as if everything is dangerous around them, which, as Jess mentioned, can lead to a lack of development for their child’s independence. When their child is ready to move out on their own, their “lawnmower parent” may have trouble letting go of them, as they are afraid of what might happen to their child without being able to protect them from potential obstacles. As I reached this stage in my life I was thrilled to learn how to live on my own and excited to see what obstacles I may face. My parents were sad of course, but they were also happy to see me live independently. I was already prepared for this lifestyle due to my parents giving me freedom and letting me figure some things out on my own.

    Just as Jess mentioned, I also grew up witnessing these types of overprotective parents. One of my friend’s parents wouldn’t let her play soccer because the practices were late at night. Although we were safe with the coaches, they thought it was too unsafe and not healthy for her to be out that time of day. Due to her parents’ decisions and not hers, she was never able to play soccer and to this day has never been involved in an outdoor team sport. This relates to Jess’ statement, “ these parents are cheating their children of mastering their own lawns and clearing any obstacles that may come in the way, therefore creating a negative developmental structure for the child.”

    Nicola S.

  2. robbiepark95 says:

    I’m happy you wrote about this topic Jessica, great choice!

    Growing up in my estate, all of my friends were 2-3 years older than me, so my parents were more loose than others because they felt I had to be included. Up until the age of 4 I wasn’t allowed to leave the street we lived on, purely for safety reasons. There after, as long as I made my parents aware of my whereabouts, I was given the freedom to roam the estate. The only restrictions/ rules I had to abide by, was not leaving the estate, and going home as soon as the street lights came on. Looking back at it now, I feel my parents enabled me to express myself, more than the average child back then.

    When I first reflect on my personal experiences, there are times when I feel like my parents were “lawnmower” parents. However, I realize that they were just biding their time to let me go free. In fact, my parents actually encouraged me to study in Canada. Yes, they were sad when I had made my decision, but they weren’t going to stop me from “spreading my wings” (as my mum would say). I get that parents are going to have their doubts about letting their kids go, purely because of all the dangers that the child could possibly encounter.

    I agree with your comment about there being no need for lawnmower parents, but I can understand why some parents are like this. Many cities around the world have their rough areas. In this instance I can completely understand the logic of being “over-protective” of your kid. However, they are not going to grow up learning the street-wise sense, so will have no knowledge of experiences they may relate to when dealing with certain individuals. They are also more likely to become “lawnmower” parents themselves, because they were never given the chance to approach life independently.

    Great Post Jessica!

    Robbie P.

  3. moxford1 says:

    I definitely agree with what Jess has said about there being a certain line that parents should not cross in terms of helping their child’s develop. Of course children are in need of guidance and teaching but without the ability to learn for themselves a lot of important lessons can be loss. Jess mentions a lot of great points about lawn mower parents and the effects they can have on children. Most of the actions of these parents seem absurd to me, having grown up with parents who encouraged me to learn for myself. Like Jess said, I would be embarrassed of a lot of these actions.

    Jess also touches on an interesting point, that children are mostly unaware that this behaviour will effect them negatively. This can be very harmful to children and their development because they think that this is normal behaviour and will not change it. This could create a negative dependence with their parent or other negative behaviours. I think this is where the role of the other adults in the lives of youth becomes increasingly important. These leaders and coaches should be aware when there are situations of lawn mower parents and try to incorporate more freedom and responsibility into the positions of youth within a program or team. This could include being in charge of a certain drill or having less supervision. These things can help resist some of the potential negatives effects of lawn mower parents.

    Great job Jess!

  4. akenny1 says:

    Great post Jess!

    I completely agree that there is a certain line parents cross that is too much when it come to controlling their children’s life. If youth are sheltered to the point that they never have to deal with conflict they will be very unprepared for when their parents aren’t around.

    Not that my parents didn’t care about what I was getting into in my free time, but they gave me enough space to make mistakes and problem solve on my own. If I needed help, I knew they would always be there to lean back on for support. Even when I did need there help, my parents often encouraged me to do things for myself. When I was younger, I was particularly shy when I was in public. This might be surprising considering sometimes I can be obnoxiously loud. Whenever I would be at a store, my mom would encourage me to go to the cash and pay for things myself. I hated this but it really pushed me to be more independent. When I reached high school, I would say I was more independent then some of my friends.

    At a certain point parents need to recognize that children need to do thing for themselves because they won’t always be there to shelter them.

    Amanda K

  5. tabitharose123 says:

    Jessica, I really enjoyed reading your article, because this idea of a lawnmower parent was always something that I was conflicted on, and I see your point as to why this can be such a negative influence. Your article, and the discussions we have had in class (such as the whole idea of free play in the video from a couple weeks ago, letting kids climb trees on their own/do things on their own to learn their limits can teach them to deal with things on their own, and teaches them a sense of independence) has definitely showed me how lawn mowing parents can be a negative thing, but I do not think it is all negative.

    I disagree in that there are no benefits whatsoever, because of my own experiences. My parents would probably have been considered to be “lawn mowing parents”, because of our beliefs in christianity, but I think that what they did right was balancing it. When I say balance, I mean that parents must teach their children through words and their own actions what is good, so that their kids will follow (and I believe they eventually will, sooner or later), but they have to give them their own freedom as well.
    I know that I am a better person today because of the times my parents did not let me do things that other kids were allowed to do. I have learned good values, and have learned the importance of making the right decision, even if its the hard one.
    I think that balance is really key.

    I will have to admit, though, that because of this more or less constant “no” from my parents, I am a more curious-than-average kid/young adult, in experiencing things that were ‘banned’ while still growing up at home, but for the most part I learned a lot from my parents nagging because I understood their reasoning behind it.

Comments are closed.