Lawnmower/Bulldozer/Snowplow Parents

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Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 62
Gender: Male
Posts: 21,189
Location: Long Island, New York

27 Oct 2018, 1:40 am

Like many older people I am prone to rant about how todays youth are bieng spoiled blah,blah, blah blah. A popular target of us old codgers for years now has been “helicopter parents”. We wish for it to go away. As it turns out this is another case of a lesson us old codgers should know by now, be careful what you wish for. Yes its true the days of helicopter parenting were the good old days.

Move aside helicopter moms, lawnmower parents are on the rise

Helicopter parents may hover and tiger moms may roar, but make room for the lawnmower parent whose approach to child-rearing is generating buzz.

In an essay recently published on the site, an anonymous educator calls the parenting style a "troubling trend“

Lawnmower parents go to whatever lengths necessary to prevent their child from having to face adversity, struggle, or failure," the teacher wrote.

The post, titled "Lawnmower Parents Are the New Helicopter Parents & We Are Not Here for It," has been shared 12,000 times on the brand's Facebook page. The teacher, who wrote it, told a story of a seemingly reluctant father who dropped off a water bottle for his child at her school.

"'Hi, sorry,' the parent said sheepishly. He was in a suit, clearly headed to work (or something work-like)," the teacher recalled. “Remy kept texting me that she needed it. I texted back, 'Don’t they have water fountains at your school?' But I guess she just had to have it out of the bottle. He laughed, as if to say, 'Teenagers, am I right?'"

Named after the device used for cutting grass, a lawnmower parent will intervene or "mow down" any person or obstacle that stands in the way of them saving their child from any "inconvenience, problem or discomfort," according to a college professor who wrote a blog on the subject.

In that same blog, the professor notes how helicopter parenting is widely known for parents who hover or swoop in to "rescue" their kids whenever they're in trouble. Lawnmower parents, however, are geared more towards parents of older children where hovering "may be limited," she wrote.

"If you say, 'Oh, I took care of this for you,' it inadvertently gives that message of 'you can't do this yourself, you can't succeed,'" said Stephanie Samar, a clinical psychologist at the Mood Disorders Center of the Child Mind Institute. "That can lead to other problematic things -- may be increased anxiety, low distressed tolerance -- [a] discomfort that comes with having conflict helplessness about their situation."

Elisabeth Fairfield Stokes, a mother of two, told "GMA" that she has heard of a parenting style like lawnmower, but it was referred to as "snowplow" parenting.

“Lawnmower sounds like an even more aggressive version," she said in a statement. "I heard someone proudly describe themselves as such, how they clear any obstacles out of their child’s path so they can just do their thing

The Rise of the Lawnmower Parent
It happened again this week. Several times, in fact.

I’m a professor at a well-known local university, and my office is located directly across from the elevators. Because I maintain a literal “open-door” policy for my students, visitors often mistake me for the department secretary, as I am the first person they see when the elevator doors open. At this time of year, the same scenario happens repeatedly:

I’m concentrating on something, but out of the corner of my eye I see the elevator doors slide open. It’s a teenage girl and a middle-aged woman, presumably her mother. The parent walks into my office, with the girl trailing sheepishly behind. The mother says, “My daughter will be starting here in the fall. We’ve got a problem with her class schedule.” I try to make eye contact and address the girl as I politely give them directions to the Office of Student Services down the hall, but it’s the mother who apologizes for interrupting me. They leave my office, Mom leading the way with the class schedule in her hand.

Do you see the problem here? The child has been accepted into a major university and is weeks away from starting a difficult area of study, but it’s her parent who is doing all of the talking to get her problem corrected, while she says nothing and appears to be dragged along against her will.

his kind of parental behavior can have long-lasting, detrimental effects on your child. Some of these include:

She becomes poorly equipped to deal with routine growing and learning experiences. This includes everything from asking for directions and dealing with an annoying roommate to much broader skills like communicating with superiors, negotiating for something she wants and coping with disappointment.

She doesn’t develop a sense of personal motivation or drive, since she only knows how to follow the path that the Lawnmower Parent has already prepared.

She can’t make a decision, big or small, without the guidance of others.

She constantly receives the message that she isn’t good enough to do this herself. In essence, the Lawnmower Parent is repeatedly demonstrating to the child that she cannot be trusted to accomplish things on her own.

As a result of blatantly abusive behavior of some parents, many universities maintain a policy that all contact from a parent is referred to the administration office. A parent’s request to “just keep this conversation between us” or “don’t tell my daughter that I called you” isn’t likely to be honored, and may actually single your child out to administration for an unflattering reason.

There is some information that we legally cannot reveal to you if your child is over 18 and hasn’t granted us permission. Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), there are scenarios in which the university cannot release the student’s academic record to the parents, regardless of who is paying the tuition. And guess how I find out what I am permitted to reveal to a parent? I need to contact the school administration (see the previous bullet point).

Faculty members are professionals, but if your behavior is threatening, outlandish, repetitive or otherwise inappropriate, there’s a good chance that we’re going to discuss it among ourselves. Your child may quickly gain a reputation within the faculty that is the exact opposite of how you are hoping that she will be received.

Faculty are heavily involved in job searches, writing recommendations, making referrals, and so forth. If a parent has been contacting me to “help” her child through my class, how can I honestly rate that student highly on communication, motivation and maturity to a future employer when I haven’t ever seen the student demonstrate those skills?

Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person. - Sara Luterman