We’ve all heard of helicopter parenting – i.e. a parent who pays extremely close attention to their child…like a helicopter, but there is a new term I’ve been hearing that is doing my head in: lawnmower parenting.
When I was raising my children in the early 80s, we didn’t have these terms. You were a parent and you tried your hardest. We didn’t have all the books and the internet to ask any question to. A lawnmower parent is someone who clears paths for their kids before they even have a chance to give a go themselves – any obstacle is too great for the child to attempt!
Firstly, as a side note, why do parents feel the need to take other peoples’ advice about how to raise their own child? It’s almost as if there’s no natural instincts any more and you can find pages and pages of advice telling you how to care for your child from day dot. To breastfeed or not to breastfeed? Ask Google! Should my baby sleep in my bed? Yes – if you want to be an attachment paren, oh wait, No – you don’t want to have a clingy child. There’s so many conflicting opinions nowadays that I am so glad that I didn’t have someone condemning every little thing I did.
I was neither a helicopter mum or even a lawnmower, my basic instinct was to give my two boys a lot of love and a lot of care, but to have independent thought. If they wanted to eat mud or put an insect in their mouth, I’d let them do it. Now if I was a mother, I’d no doubt have another concerned mum or dad running up to my child, worried sick. Are mothers and fathers creating droves of children wrapped in cotton wool? How will these kids ever be able to face the realities of everyday life if everything is done for them?
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My children had chores from a young age and I trusted them to make decisions for themselves. Now at 35 and 38, they are both amazing men who have both travelled and never had that dependence on their parents that you see everywhere these days. Even at 17, they were cooking their own meals and one had been in a fist fight. Sure, I was horrified when he came home bloodied, but it taught him a lesson I couldn’t. I didn’t condone fighting but I would never give him an unrealistic expectation of the world…there are some people mean people! If I was a helicopter parent, I would have attended the fight, and if I was a lawnmower, I would have punched the guy myself. But how does that help your kid?
So what can we do about lawnmower, helicopter, scissor, stapler, whatever parents? I personally think we should just stick to the basic fundamentals of parenting: care, love, protect and prepare. If your child is being bullied, offer solutions; if your child wants to eat glue, let them figure out how bad it tastes! Children need to explore this world. I say throw out terminology and get back to the idea that scraped knees are okay. Imagine what politics will be like in 20 years time if politicians were mollycoddled all their youth?! They won’t know the first thing about the outside world! Or is that what it’s like now…
What do you think about helicopter or lawnmower parenting? What was your parenting style? How do you think it has changed since you were a young mum or a dad? Tell us below!