I was recently introduced to the concept of “lawnmower parenting.” When I say introduced, what I really mean is that it was pointed out to me that I am guilty of this and that there is a title for it. Therefore, saying I was introduced is pretty inaccurate. It makes it seem like I had no idea what it was, when in fact I know exactly what it is…I just didn’t know it had a nice neat name. Lawnmower parenting is different from helicopter parenting, but in the same family. Lawnmower parents “mow” down any obstacles before their kid can get to them. Like when you explain to the waiter that your kid’s foods can’t touch at a restaurant because your crystal ball tells you that the broccoli is going to be on top of the chicken and s#*@ is going to go down when your kid sees. I am not that “skilled,” but I had gotten pretty good at clipping away.
I think there is a fine line between lawnmower parenting and just prudent parenting. In the case of foods touching, I lean towards teaching our children that sometimes things are not going to be just as they want them and preparing them to adapt. I think that in a lot of areas I do fairly well, but I absolutely have been guilty of overstuffing my diaper bag with sweatshirts, scooters, and multiples of toys in an effort to ward off meltdowns or discomfort for my sweet little baby. The problem is twofold. 1. I was dragging around a suitcase of ‘options.’ 2. m was not learning the natural consequences of life.
The latter is far more important to me. By natural consequences, I mean that when it is cold out, you will get cold if you don’t wear warm enough clothing. If you don’t eat, you will get hungry. If you break something, it likely will not work properly and we don’t always have another one to just replace it. All of these are real scenarios from our household. HeyBabeDaddy and I got so tired of explaining the natural consequences…and mind you it did NO good. Solution? We let her get cold. We let her get hungry. And we let toys break and DIDN’T replace them. Bold, I know, but the results were so worth it. Within a few applications the results were nothing short of phenomenal…in that it was the stuff they write about in parenting books. Hahaha (It shouldn’t make me laugh, but it does because I read parenting books and some of that stuff sounds peachy on paper but lofty applied in the real world.)
I know that parenting books talk about these tactics, and I also know how easily it flows from necessity in to lawn mowing. What I mean is this: when you have a baby you have to do everything for them. So, as time passes and your baby starts growing up, it can very easily slip from essential into holding her back from understanding the world by not adjusting my parenting to adapt to her increasing capabilities. Understanding cause and effect is a critical life skill, and I know from experience that going through the transition from baby to toddler and beyond requires me to grow and adapt right along with m and j.
I am happy to say that, along with m learning to accept a jacket or nourishment and take better care of her things, we have also graduated to m helping pack her own snack and water, and remembering to go potty before we leave for outings…and…I LOVE IT.
The other day she totally called me out when I denied her a snack on the way out the door. It went over very smoothly like…NOT.
Monica: “Mommy, that is not the deal. The deal is, I think of what I am going to need before we leave.”
Me: “You are absolutely right. Thank you so much for the reminder.”
It was my mommy fail and proud moment at the same time. She is still a baby, but man, these little people are so capable.