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06th Aug 2022

Musings: I think ‘Lawnmower’ parenting is damaging for children

Melissa Carton

There’s a new parenting trend gathering rapid momentum and it could be stunting children’s development.

The term ‘lawnmower’ refers to when a parent chases after their child doing everything for them and making sure that they never experience struggle.

While this is all meant with the best of intentions, experts say it leaves a child unprepared for all that they are going to come up against as adults in college or the workplace.

This parenting habit is very easy to slip into and I’ve definitely been guilty of doing it in the past.

It’s one thing to shelter your child from some problems in life you may deem too adult or inappropriate for them to deal with, but when parents start doing their children’s school assignments for them or dash to school just to give them their favourite pen, despite the fact that the child has dozens of other pens in their bag, it crosses the line.

Teachers, in particular, are becoming exasperated with lawnmower parenting and wish parents would realise that it does nobody any good and will actually make things harder for their child down the line.

One teacher wrote on website WeAreTeachers;

“We are creating a generation that has no what idea what to do when they actually encounter struggle.”

Last year I was talking to a mother who was constantly pulling her child out of different after-school classes and activities.

I asked her one day how her daughter was doing in her ballet class and she said that she was no longer taking dance classes, as her daughter said ‘the teacher was making it too hard’. Her daughter had said the same about her music lessons, art classes and swimming lessons.

Now sometimes children just don’t take to certain hobbies, but the blaming of the teacher sent alarm bells ringing. I carefully suggested that if she continued with her classes a little bit longer she would begin to find them easier, and that it takes practice before any of us are good at a new skill. Her mother continued to bash the teacher, so I gave up.

I took part in choral competitions and acting auditions as a child and teenager and though I was disappointed when things didn’t go my way, I was never mollycoddled.

My grandmother was a great fan of the quote ‘what’s for you won’t pass you’ and it became my mantra growing up when I had to deal with letdowns.

As parents, we always want to protect our children but we can’t wrap them up in cotton wool.

While worrying for our children is natural it can’t overwhelm us so much that we forget to help mould them into functional, independent adults.

Children are far more resilient than we give them credit for and with our help and support, will weather any storm that comes their way.

In short, drop your child’s Geography project and let them build their own volcano.