Back away from your kid's homework assignment, and pour a glass of wine instead.
There's always some new phrase to categorize how people parent. I mean, let's face it: Just like there are trends in the world, there are ways of parenting that seem to change with each generation. I sat in the front seat of my parents' cars in kindergarten—at nowhere near the required height and weight limit of car seats today—and inhaled a whole bunch of secondhand smoke (thanks, Mom). Today these behaviors would be considered illegal, or completely shunned. Nowadays, we've all met helicopter parents who hover over everything their kids do, but apparently there's a new style of parenting taking it even one step further: Meet the lawnmower mom.
A lawnmower parent is one who basically "mows over" any problems or issues for his or her kid. By doing this, it keeps the child from facing any sort of adversity or stress. Hey, I get it. It's a competitive world, and we all want to give our kids a fair shake at succeeding. But some experts say that when parents "mow over" any issues for their children, they send kids a message that they're not capable of handling things on their own. The end result? This type of parenting could hurt a child's self-esteem and confidence. Not to mention, (and this is my two cents), the kid may grow up to be an adult who can't deal with reality—pressure, challenges and hardships.
If you have a sneaking suspicion you may be stepping in a bit too much, here are 12 signs you are, indeed, a lawnmower parent.
1. You side with your kid .... always.
Any argument between your child and another child is automatically the other kid's fault. Then, you remove the other child from your kid's life as if you were blocking and deleting someone on Facebook.
2. You don't delay gratification.
If one of your kid's friends has a toy or cool item and your kid wants it, you will buy it quickly so your kid doesn't meltdown or feel left out. You may want to avoid this before your kid thinks you've got some secret deal with Amazon.
3. You micromanage teachers and grades.
You stay on top of everything the teacher does, insisting that each grade or assignment be poured over if your kid doesn't get the grade he or she wanted. When, really, you're probably still mad over getting second place in the middle school spelling bee. Let it go, and take a deep breath! Second place isn't all that bad, my darling.
4. You insist on the best role or position for activities.
No way is your kid getting second string or JV. No way is your kid not making the dance team. You will make the coach's plans and mind up for him, if need be. Take it easy … the late night texts to the coach are making his wife think you've got something else in mind.
5. You bring to school anything your kid forgets.
You've been known to leave work, in the middle of a meeting with your boss, because one of your kids left his homework or project at home ... again. Sure, this is fine at age 6 or 7, but once your kids get older, they need to learn accountability.
6. You annoy the school guidance counselor over college choices.
You argue more with your kid's guidance counselor during the college application process than any other parent or student at the school. You're pushing recommendations with mafia-type threats. The guidance counselor starts to feel like you've wire-tapped her phone.
7. You call to report to other parents about anything that makes your kid cry.
Even if your kid cries over sharing a small toy during "Show and Share," you call the other parent to report the situation and make a big deal. Honestly, though, wouldn't you have been cool if the other kid took your child's talking Elmo doll? You've been trying to get rid of it since your mother-in-law bought it for your child anyway.
8. You call your kid in late or sick when she's working a job, even though she can call herself.
Your teen has a job, but expects you to call the boss if she's late or can't show up. Don't you hate calling your own boss? Maybe you need to fake it and "pretend" you don't have the boss's number so your teen will learn to call …
9. You remove your kid from hard classes and activities.
If the activity is challenging for your kid or the class requires more work and no more automatic A's, (gasp—a B?) you'll make an excuse and withdraw your kid. We know you've considered therapy for failing a trigonometry test in the 10th grade, and we get it (we were there too!), but give your kid some credit. Most likely, his math teacher is cooler than yours was, anyway.
10. You make excuses for bad behavior to minimize the consequences.
This is the parent who will battle the school over behavior complaints, or detentions and suspensions. This will also be the same parent who says, "Not my kid." Before you rush in, remember that Molly Ringwald met Judd Nelson and Emilio Estevez in detention. Maybe a little punishment isn't all that bad.
12. You handle all the homework.
If you're doing your kid's homework—not just monitoring your kid or helping her understand directions—you're a lawnmower mom. Plus, technically, you're letting your kid cheat by doing it for him. Didn't you graduate so you could avoid homework? Pass the gauntlet, and let your kid have all the "fun" now.
11. You try to contact professors or change a child's college course plans.
If your kid is in college and you're overseeing her class schedule or emailing professors about a missed assignment, you are a lawnmower parent for sure. Back away from the crisp, color-coded course catalog, and pour a glass of wine instead.
Written by Laura Lifshitz for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.