I’ve been a mother for almost 23 years and a nana for just 4 short months and I thought I’d heard it all. Maybe I’ve just been out of the loop for too long and not reading all of the parenting books that I used to. My education has obviously been lacking though because I’ve only recently heard about helicopter parents and lawnmower parents. What the…….?
So maybe I’m showing my age now, because when I became a mother at the tender age of 17 we were warned about not wrapping our children in cotton wool.
It seems that the more common term now is ‘helicopter parenting’, whereby there are parents who hover overhead, rarely out of sight of their children whether needed or not. Or if you’re a lawnmower parent then you smooth out and mow down your children’s obstacles.
In essence, it’s about over-parenting; parents solving their children’s problems and keeping them from harm. It’s about not letting children learn for themselves by letting them experience the full range of emotions and lessons in life. I’m no psychologist but even I know that to raise healthy, happy and well-balanced children that we need to let them live-and-learn for themselves.
We can’t protect our children from everything and everyone, nor are we doing them any favours by trying.
Children need to learn that their actions have consequences right from babyhood because this is how children learn. If they run on slippery floors then they need to learn that they may slip over. If they jump from a height then they need to learn that they may hurt themselves. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t stop them from really harming themselves, but it does need to
be balanced and we need to let them learn for themselves as well.
The one thing that really got me was when my youngest sons’ school started banning ‘winners’ for any of the school sports games if the children were under 8 years old. How does a child learn about determination and improvement and even defeat if, up until the age of 8, they can’t ‘win’?
Are we raising a bunch of ‘marshmallow’ children who don’t know how to stand up for themselves, look after themselves or speak up for their rights.
I’ll be honest, my husband was always tougher on our boys than I was. I still wanted to protect them (what mother doesn’t?) but I was also realistic and I didn’t ‘hover’ or wrap them in cotton wool. Well I don’t think that I did, they may have different views.
Hubby probably contributed to them being tough little nuts with plenty of self-confidence but I also balanced it out with the hugs and cuddles and teaching them that it was okay to be a male and still talk about feelings.
I do admit to a tendency towards lawnmower parenting as they’ve gotten older but I also know that we’ve provided them with the tools to fight their own battles and to survive in the real world. I know that my boys are going to be perfectly okay.
To ease the motherly tendencies, I’ll just hover and mow a little bit more around my grandson, because I can do that with him without causing him any long-lasting damage. His parents can do the hard yards with him and teach him about balance.
So the question is: do you hover or mow, or do you just let them go and then you’re there to pick up the pieces?
This is an original World Moms Blog post by Inspiration to Dream of Adelaide, South Australia. Fiona is the writer of Inspiration to Dream and can be found writing or reading in every spare moment that isn’t filled up with work, her three boys, her new grandson and of course with a bit of spare time thrown in for hubby as well.