Dear Lawnmower Parents,
Please stop. We’ve moved on from helicopter parents to you and I don’t like it one bit. Helicopters would hover, but you seek to mow down every obstacle in your child’s path. You aren’t helping, you’re suffocating. Unless you plan to move to college with your kids (if you can get them to leave you), please turn off your engines now to listen for a bit.
I just spent the last few days trying to register kids for a college fair. I am passionate about college and will do what I can to help any child get there. I found around 5 of every 25 students in a room didn’t know their home address or didn’t know their parent’s number. One would think this might be a bit embarrassing for them, not so much. “Just wait, I need to text my mom to find out my address. She usually does all this stuff for me.” These were teenagers that didn’t know where they lived. This wasn’t a remedial class, nor was this a transient population. They were juniors and seniors in a small midwestern town.
I had a conversation with a parent recently that confessed that she had a pen taken out of her hand when she was trying to fill out her daughter’s forms at college. She was told that she wasn’t the student. That’s right. You as a parent are not the student. You aren’t the entry level worker and you aren’t the athlete on the field. Stop acting like you are. Every time you grab the pen, yell at the coach, and demand an answer from a teacher you rob your child of the opportunity to learn something on their own, conflict management.
If our job as parents is to give our children roots and wings, we need to concentrate a little more on the wings part.
Your kids are amazing. They can do great things if you let them. Problem solving is one of the most important skills you can allow your kids to develop. Let them deal with the problems of life, school, work, and sports while they are safe in your home with a soft place to land. Allow them to stumble a bit.
If a teenager doesn’t know where they live, what their parent’s phone number is (unless they look in their contacts) and can’t boil water we have then successfully churned out a generation that has less self-help skills than the generation before them. Granted, they may be able to program your t.v., but if they can’t tell the dispatcher where you live to send the fire trucks…
Your child should be able to complete algebra, write a coherent essay, and pass a citizenship test when they graduate from high school. That is the work of educators and the effort of your children. If your child knows how to wash clothes, make a few meals, mow a lawn, use their manners and remember their home address, that’s on you. Stay off your lawnmower long enough to teach them.
Keep sharing moxie.