Is Lawnmower Parenting Helpful?

Should we be letting kids overcome challenges on their own in order to navigate the pits and perils of life?

Move over Helicopter Parents and make way for the new and improved version, the Lawnmower Parent. Simply another version of parents that over parent, these parents in effect “mow down” or “bulldoze” or “snowplow” any issues, obstacles or problems that get in the way of their child’s success. We were witness to an extreme case of Lawnmower parenting with the recent college cheating scandal in which recognizable actors Lori Laughlin and Felicity Huffman, among many others, were charged for buying their children university spots.  

Lesser (and more legal) variations of Lawnmower parenting happen all the time. Take the parent who steps in to have a high school student moved from one classroom to another because their teen is having issues with the teacher or the parent who lets their child miss a day of school to have more time to study for a test or finish a project.  

In the school parking lot, parents are in constant rotation, dropping off forgotten lunches, textbooks, running shoes and gym strips. Many of these same parent’s challenge teachers, school support staff, coaches and even other parents who try to hold their kids accountable for bad behavior.  

While these parents believe they are only helping their children, in reality they are hindering their development by robbing these kids of the chance to face obstacles. These kids don’t develop the skills set they need to deal with challenges and will be left unable to cope as they get older. They don’t learn grit, resiliency or the determination needed to succeed without someone else stepping in to fix things. Kids who are always having things fixed for them are more prone to struggle when challenged with the ups and downs of life.  

I can speak from experience. I was a bit of a Lawnmower Parent with my eldest daughter long before it was even a thing (my daughter is now 25). I would often find myself clearing obstacles for her to make her life easier  - whether it was making excuses to teachers for late homework or going to battle for her when her behavior at the school was less than ideal. I can tell you that it took many years to unwind this pattern and ultimately do some “reparenting” when she was in her late teens and early 20’s. I had to redefine not only what I expected of her but also what was expected of her as a part of our family. But these are much harder lessons to learn as a 20something “adult” vs. a young impressionable child. I was lucky that I started to change the dance with her when I did, as she was able to turn it around and is now thankfully a very successful, contributing member of society. However, it was touch and go there for a while! 

I feel blessed that in my second go around raising children (my stepchildren who are 12 and 14 and are with us 50% of the year) I have past mistakes to learn from.  Today, we not only celebrate our children’s successes but also their failures. At the dinner table each night we ask them to share their blossoms (successes) and their burns (failures) from the day. We help them learn from mistakes and empower them to accept personal responsibility by taking ownership of their own behavior and the consequences of that behavior rather make excuses and point fingers at others. We challenge them to do better, to be better.  

Last year, we received a note home from school saying that our son was not wearing or maintaining his school uniform. We responded back that as it was part of the school’s code of conduct, the school should implement the appropriate repercussions as per policy. Of course, we would also address this issue at home, but we would let our son know that in this case we supported whatever consequences the school deemed fit. During a subsequent parent-teacher interview we asked why the school had not implemented their own set of consequences for kids failing to meet specific obligations. We were told that many parents push back and do not approve of the school reprimanding their kids and that we were unique in allowing the school to enforce a consequence for our child’s failure to follow the rules. 

I saw a recent interview with the artist Pink who said she felt that, “…Our job as parents and caregivers is not to protect our kids from the fires of life, but to walk them through these fires to show them that they are fireproof”. This rang true for me and has become a powerful mantra in reminding me that as parents, we are here to gently guide, not clear paths for, our children as they navigate life.  


Perhaps you can identify as a constant fixer in your child’s life? Perhaps you want to change that? If so, it is never too late to do so! You can begin by consistently encouraging your child by letting them know that you have faith in their ability to make good choices. You can allow them to make mistakes (many of them) so that they can learn from them.  Let your kids come up with their own consequences for inappropriate behavior and help them learn how to problem solve and navigate uncomfortable situations. By allowing our kids to start advocating for themselves we are giving them the greatest gift of all – independence!  

Simply remind yourself whenever you get the urge to “fix” something for your child that by letting them work through difficult situations on their own you are giving them the survival skills they need to navigate the world on their own. 


By: Marci Cooper

Previous Article Next Article


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Join Our Community

Receive exclusive wellness + advocacy resources to support your journey


Follow Us

Popular Posts

you might also enjoy

Have you been told you have low iron?

Iron deficiency anemia affects 1.2 billion individuals worldwide, and iron deficiency in the absence of anemia is even more common.  Knowing so many people suffer from this deficiency, it's important to increase your awareness and stay in tune with your body so that you can make simple adjustments to avoid any lasting impact.

you might also enjoy

My Path To Homeopathy

Thus began my quest to immerse myself in learning everything I could about alternative health. I read every book I could get my hands on, and started an enlightening journey with a myriad of alternative health treatments and modalities. I've written a lot about my initial journey into wellness and many of those alternative health treatments. Each one taught me something and informed my understanding of whole health. 

you might also enjoy

Tissue Salt #11 - Sodium Sulfate

Sodium Sulfate or Nat Sulph is a water eliminator and a deficiency of Nat Sulph will lead to an excess of water. Nat Phos which we discussed earlier, is a water distributor and these two tissue salts work well together. Nat Sulph is extremely effective in treating malarial fever as it helps remove the excess water from the blood which is where the malaria bacteria breeds. 

you might also enjoy

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is considered a chronic inflammatory condition that affects hormone levels. The ovaries are responsible for producing androgen hormones, and when androgens are produced at optimal levels, follicles remain healthy leading to a normal ovulatory process.

you might also enjoy

Deciphering Food Labels

Label reading can be daunting. And time consuming. But I promise that deciphering the ingredients on labels is well worth it to make sure the healthy meals you're cooking aren't sabotaged by ingredients from canned, boxed or jarred goods.

you might also enjoy

Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. A Review.

Are you a mouthbreather or do you breathe through your nose? Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nester sheds light on why we should only be nose breathers. Humans have lost the ability to breathe correctly, with grave consequences. 

Recently Viewed