One of the newest parenting labels that is receiving a lot of negative attention is the lawn mower parent. If you haven’t heard of this type of parent, they are described as eliminating the struggles, challenges or difficulties their children face in life. Ultimately, while they mean the best, lawn mower parents are hindering children from being successful, well-adjusted adults in several ways:
Leads to Underdeveloped Coping Skills It is a well-known fact that life commonly doesn’t go the way we want it to or how we expect. This can be incredibly difficult for children to understand especially the first time things don’t work out in their favor. Lawn mower parents work to shelter their children from these negative parts of reality, making it hard to adjust into adulthood. One story of a lawn mower parent involved responding to a child’s request to bring her forgotten insulated water bottle to school. The adult listened to the request despite knowing there are water fountains on school property. Ultimately, the child’s unnecessary request was validated while this could have been an opportunity for her to learn how to deal with what was a minor, less-than-ideal situation.
Discourages Problem-Solving Skills It is clear that when lawn mower parents protect children from problems, they are keeping them from thinking for themselves. How can a child know how to approach a problem if their parent always resolves it for them?
The next time your child explains a problem that they are facing consider reacting differently and taking a step back. While you may want to take charge of the situation, ask the child what they think they can do themselves to solve it. This can help the child feel empowered and help them examine all possible scenarios even if some are suggested by adults. As time goes on, they will hopefully be able to think of all possible ways to cope with their problems independently.
Encourages Dependency It is important to note that children may not always be able to handle all their problems independently. However, think about what they should be able to handle. Consider the example of a student who has his mom handle things such as rescheduling his make-up tests. Due to his parent’s behavior, he is not learning responsibility. Overall, lawn mower parent behaviors teach children to be lazy or that if they make a mistake, mom, dad or the like will always come to their rescue.
Gives a Sense of Entitlement You have probably heard that younger generations seem to think everything should be given to them. One example is the idea that all children should receive a trophy no matter how well they did so no one feels left out. Lawn mower parents help develop their child’s sense of entitlement by giving them everything they ask for and making life generally easier. As a result, children do not learn that hard work and dedication are necessary if they want to improve skills and reach desired goals. As adults, we do not expect that the same consideration for a promotion would be given to a worker that does the bare minimum and one constantly striving to improve.
Damages Their Confidence
How would you feel if someone was always working to solve your problems for you? Young children may not think twice about parents solving their problems. However, as they get older they may begin to ask questions. For example, why their parents feel the need to always step in and come to the rescue.
Ultimately, the well-intentioned parent can leave their child feeling as though they don’t believe their child is capable of solving their own problems. Consequently, children may also face other negative emotions including increased anxiety and low distressed tolerance. While children may not always make the right decisions when faced with challenges, we must give them the opportunity to try.
In the end, responsibilities, disappointments, mistakes and unideal situations are parts of life. These elements are what eventually help children grow into well-adjusted, independent and knowledgeable adults.