Tag Archives: helicopter parenting

Lawnmower parenting – a new label to help you feel guilty

I just read the phrase “lawnmower parenting” on Facebook, and had to look it up to see whether someone was hilariously mixing lawnmowers up with helicopters or if it really was a new thing.

It really is a new thing. Lawnmower parents are parents who smooth down every little bump ahead of their children, so that they face no obstacles or nasty tricky hurdles in their lives.

I didn’t read any more. I can see how it works. I can see how sometimes you’d do it and sometimes you wouldn’t, and how you’d do it less as your child grows up, and you’d adjust what you’re doing according to the personality of your individual child, whom you know, because you’re their parent.

Unless, of course, you’ve heard that now it’s a thing you mustn’t ever do, because then you’ll be a lawnmower parent, and if it has a name and a label then it’s a Style of Parenting that you must now and forever espouse or reject, amen.

So now, helping your child is another thing to worry about, and feel potentially guilty for, and wonder whether you’re doing enough of or too much of. I don’t care for this. We have enough sources of potential guilt already. I think we can stop making up names for things now.

Here’s a plan. Do what works for your family. If it’s not working, change it. (I did not come up with this insightful basic truth. It’s from Magda Pecsenye, who has been making parents feel better about what they’re doing for years and years.) Behave decently, and let your kids see you behaving decently, towards them and to others. Feel your feelings, and talk about them, and give your kids words for how they feel. Do what feels right. It probably is.

The kids will be all right.

Ice cream tongues


“I’m sick of parenting,” I caught myself thinking. “Can’t I just ignore them for a while?”

And then the irony struck me. We spend a lot of time harking back to our childhoods (at least, assuming they were good), trying to emulate them for our children, whining about how we didn’t have Playstations and Kindles and 24-hour iCarly TV stations, and we just had to be outside in all weathers, getting rained on or sunburnt (pick your continent), making our own fun. And it was good for us, and we liked it.

But our parents didn’t parent. They just were. It wasn’t a verb. So on the one hand we’re all congratulating ourselves on knowing so much more about child development nowadays, and on caring so much more about what our children are doing that may or may not be helping their braincells grow larger and their psyches be unscathed so that in the future their therapists will say “Well, I can’t blame the parents;” and on the other we’re wanting them to have the sort of childhood we had before any of that was a concern to anyone.

Our parents’ concerns were that we went to school when it was school time and stayed out of their hair when it wasn’t. I may be missing a few nuances, but that was mostly it, right? They fed us and clothed us and then they stayed out of our way and we stayed out of theirs, and everyone was fine. More than fine: I’d say we learned a lot more on our own and with our friends than we did when we were under strictly supervised conditions. Not all of it pleasant, perhaps, but if you’re constantly on hand to save your children from the unpleasant, they’re not going to turn into very robust or resilient adults.

Maybe I’ll start unparenting. It could be the new thing.