A dear friend of mine who happens to be a family counselor recently wrote a wonderful article on the newest and latest parenting craze, “Lawnmower Parents.” Not to be confused with “Helicopter Parents” who “hover” over their children and dive down like a bird pouncing on prey at the first sign of distress, “Lawnmower Parents” seem to be even more aggressive.
“Lawnmower Parents” (also known in some circles as “Snowplowing Dads,” “Bulldozer Moms,” or even “Curling Parents” after the weird Winter Olympics’ sport that resembles shuffleboard but is played on ice with Harry Potter brooms and a lot more yelling) tend to “mow down” any obstructions that might get in the way for their children. Instead of preparing their kids for challenges, they remove the obstacles that might cause pain, fear, anxiety or insecurity. Is that really such a bad thing? Experts seem to think it is.
We all want our children to thrive and be happy. When our kids are facing adversity, our empathy naturally kicks in and we instinctively want to do whatever we can to help them. But, experts say that when we decrease the amount of struggle our offspring face, we are not creating happier kids, but rather, we are creating an environment where our kids will panic or shut down during moments of stress due to lack of experience.
While I understand the fundamental thinking behind this phenomenon, the “Mama Bear” in me cannot help but think, “This is hogwash.” Yet, I can’t help but wonder … am I a “Lawnmower Mom” and could all that I have been doing to help my kids become valuable members of society really be doing the exact opposite? I didn’t think I was but thought it best to ask the experts to make sure. So, I did. I asked both my children (separately, mind you) if they thought their dear old mama was doing too much hypothetical gardening on their behalf. They both (separately, mind you) replied with the exact same answer: “Nah … you are more of a ‘Weed Whacker.’ You make us do the actual mowing, but we know you are there to edge or get the hard-to-reach weeds when needed.”
I couldn’t help but feel proud by their response, and not just because it was super sarcastic and witty! The “Weed Whacker” style of parenting they both joked about was the exact one I had hoped I was!
I agree that we shouldn’t try and mow down every patch of grass we think is too long for our children to cross through. But, that said, I would rather my kids feel coddled than scarred by trauma or heartache. Does suffering make us strong? Yup, but so does love. And if I must pick between the two, hand me the “Weed Whacker” so I can start lovingly whacking away!