Lawnmowers Don’t Let Kids Grow

I recently read two articles that connected with me and with each other in a really interesting way. The first was an essay from We Are Teachers entitled Lawnmower Parents Are the New Helicopter Parents & We Aren’t Here for It. It was all over social media a few months ago, but in case you missed it. . . A lawnmower parent is someone who “mows” down challenges and adversity before their child experiences it. I get it. As parents we want to help our children and prevent them from struggling or, even worse, experiencing failure. However, in doing so frequently, lawnmower parents may be creating problematic, long-term behaviors and expectations for children who will (eventually) need to be adults.

The second was an article in the Society of Human Resource Management’s HR Magazine called Today’s Young Workers are Stressed Out and Anxious. Since I assume that most of our readers aren’t regular subscribers to this periodical, I think it’s safe to say I need to describe this one, too. This article confirmed a trend that I have noticed: the youngest generation of workers comes into the workplace and seems to experience more stress and anxiety when faced with the multiple challenges of working and growing up.

For many young adults, joining the workforce is the first time that they become totally accountable for themselves. They may have a work deadline at the same time as they are moving out of Mom and Dad’s house. Together, I call these demands “adulting,” and, in combination, they create a perfect storm for stress and anxiety. Don’t get me wrong, I am not downplaying the impact of mental health in the workplace, but I do think that we have an obligation to help our future workers learn skills to help mitigate some of the issues that are emerging today.

I connected these in a meaningful way because I think one leads to another. And ladies, we need an intervention. It’s hard to imagine our little people all grown up and in the workforce. (Actually, I take that back. Babies in boardrooms are the cutest). The thing about lawnmower parenting is that children aren’t learning important skills like problem solving, conflict resolution, and dealing with adversity because Mom and Dad swoop in and fix their problems before the kid even has a chance to see it. Lawnmower parenting also fosters a sense of entitlement that is problematic in a workplace that relies on teamwork and collaboration.

Babies in boardrooms, of course.

We have an opportunity to better prepare our children for life, including adulting in the future. I am not suggesting that we leave our children to their own devices in a Lord of the Flies scenario. Nor am I suggesting that we should let them suffer. What I am suggesting is that when that parental instinct tells us to help, give kids time to figure it out and problem solve. As they go to school, help with homework; don’t do it for them. The same goes with resolving problems with their friends. Let them try to figure it out; don’t call the other parent right away. When they forget an assignment, let your kid talk with the teacher. And whatever you do, don’t come to your child’s job interview.

Learning these life skills early on will help set our children up for success as they grow up. And unless you want your kid living in your basement forever, some day they need to grow up, right?   


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