18 Dec 2020
A few weeks ago I heard a phrase I’d never heard before – lawnmower parenting. I’d heard of helicopter parenting, but never lawnmower parenting.
The machinery must be getting smaller.
It took a fair bit of research (ok, a couple of minutes googling) to differentiate between the two.
Apparently helicopter parents hover over their children, playing very close attention to whatever happens to them in various (educational or otherwise) institutions – they hover ready to swoop in to direct, help or protect their children, mostly before it is required. Lawnmower parents, on the other hand, are a couple of steps ahead of their children, smoothing their path so that no obstacles will impede them.
The internet is full of different styles of parenting, and the more you look the more you figure you aren’t any of these types. They list Authoritarian or Disciplinarian, Permissive or Indulgent, Uninvolved or Authoritative parenting. Nope – none of have my name written next to them.
There’s another category called tiger parents – who push and pressure their children to attain high levels of academic achievement….um….nope this one’s not me either.
This all sounds very involved and super protective, so it got me wondering what the opposite of these sort of parenting styles is, because I’m fairly sure that I’m not either of them. Well, maybe. On occasion. Possibly. I suspect over the years I’ve brushed up against many of these styles of parenting, but never took them up as a definite practise.
Maybe that’s the aim for being a parent. Be a tiny bit of a tiger, a little bit helicoptery and lawnmower rarely.
Some of my favourite lessons in parenting came from Erma Bombeck, so I’m going to lawnmower ahead of you all with some of her advice 🙂
“Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.”
“When a child is locked in the bathroom with water running and he says he’s doing nothing but the dog is barking, call 911.”
“All of us have moments in our lives that test our courage. Taking children into a house with a white carpet is one of them.”
“No one ever died from sleeping in an unmade bed.”
“Never lend your car to anyone to whom you have given birth.”
But my favourite….
“I see children as kites. You spend a lifetime trying to get them off the ground. You run with them until you’re both breathless. They crash . . . you add a longer tail . . . you patch and comfort, adjust and teach. You watch them lifted by the wind and assure them that someday they’ll fly.”
Not in a helicoptery sort of way, hopefully!