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Lawnmower Parents: Protecting Our Turf

Jedd Hafer


Their blades are starting up everywhere. You can hear them whirring and spinning at parks, playgrounds and schools across the land.

No, they’re not helicopter parents. They’re a new breed of overprotective, overbearing adults who, motivated by the noble desire to make kids’ lives better, mow down obstacles so that their kids won’t have to face any unpleasant challenges.

Again, their motives often start as perfectly noble ideas such as “I want my kids to have a better childhood than I did”. Perhaps motivated by their own unpleasant childhood experiences, some of these adults work so hard to prevent their kids from struggle, disappointment and failure, that they damage everything in their paths in the process.

Teachers have reported getting calls from parents demanding that their kids not have to wash dishes in cooking or home economics classes because “they don’t like that part”. College professors are reporting more and more parents calling – or showing up and demanding extensions or other accommodations. When asked why the students didn’t advocate for themselves, a common answer is “he/she doesn’t like confrontation.”

It’s getting worse out there as motors are revving across the land.

What can we do about this growing phenomenon? We asked the legendary Jim Fay for some thoughts:

1. How Do We Avoid Being the Lawnmower?

Jim says:

We need to keep in mind that we all start out as mama bears who need to protect our ‘cubs’ because they cannot protect themselves. We need to remember that time does not stop. The day is always coming when they will need to be able to look out for themselves and solve many of their own problems.

So, it starts with a good instinct but we get derailed into believing we can actually create the world we would like our kids to live in instead of preparing them for the world they will actually live in. Unfortunately, some parents feel a stronger need to feel control than the need to truly help kids by preparing them for the struggles of life. We must remember that it’s NOT all about our need to feel control. We can tell ourselves, “Don’t snatch this child’s opportunity to learn how to solve problems!”

Once we see how Unhealthy it is to be a lawnmower, we can learn Love and Logic Skills like Guiding Children to Solve Problems.

Love and Logic is the antidote!

2. How Do We Deal with Lawnmowers When We Encounter Them?

According to Jim:

For teachers and professionals, when lawnmower/helicopter parents make unreasonable demands, we can respond with empathy. We can say something like, “I wish it could be that way. And [not but] at this school, we really believe in teaching independence. We can take care of ourselves, model the skills of handing problems back to kids – and recommend Love and Logic. I’m not kidding.This audio might change their lives and their kids’ lives.

Helicopters, Drill Sergeants and Consultants    


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