by Coach Debbie
I used to teach fourth grade. I love that age so much! They’re independent yet not hormonal. At the start of every school year we held an Open House where students and parents came to the classroom to meet me and get a vibe of how the year would be structured. You could always tell that kids were nervous (and so was I).
I’d stand at the door to greet families and introduce myself and extend my arm to shake hands with each member of the family. Here's what bothered me. Immensely. Mom or Dad would then say, “This is Timmy. Timmy shake your teacher’s hand. He’s kind of shy, ha ha.”
Wait. Is your kid mute? Does Timmy not know his own name? Why are you being a ventriloquist for a 9-year old?
Y’all, we are in the age of “lawnmower” parents. I’d never heard this term until Coach Emily sent me this link (https://www.weareteachers.com/lawnmower-parents/ ). What the heck are lawnmower parents? They’re the ones that rush ahead of their kids to remove any and all obstacles so that kids are spared from challenge or inconvenience or discomfort or problems.
“Sweetie, let Mommy ask the teacher why you got a B- on that test.”
“Honey Pie, I’ll take the pickles off your burger for you.”
“Dumpling, I know you tried to match your outfit but I am going to go pick the right pair of pants that go with that top. Then I’ll do your hair.”
Let me pause right here because feathers are ruffled. I am not talking about toddlers, nkay? Okay, moving on.
Lawnmower parents have big hearts. They don’t like to see their precious offspring facing adversity, struggle, failure. Because it hurts our mom hearts. But you know what else it does?
It cripples our kids. We handicap our children mentally and emotionally. They are not equipped for real life (which doesn’t always remove the proverbial crust off the sandwich).
They are not motivated to strive and be stretched (because they know they can be rescued at the drop of a hat).
They do not feel good enough or capable enough because mistakes are to be avoided at all cost and because Mommy will help.
They become indecisive because they have not practiced thinking and doing for themselves because Mommy does it for them and does it properly.
Struggle is okay.
Natural consequences are okay.
Challenges are okay.
Mistakes are okay.
Messes are okay.
Imperfection is okay.
Let’s let our kids struggle. Let’s nudge them outside of the comfort bubble and WATCH THEM SOAR.
One quote worth putting on your fridge that I read:
“Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child”
Let kids order at restaurants (using eye contact and polite speech).
Let kids order the pizza on the phone (while you put your hand over your mouth).
Let kids ask which aisle the cinnamon is located on inside the store.
Let kids go to their teachers when they don’t understand a project.
Let kids ask for directions inside the gas station (yeah you can stand next to them).
Let kids experience the natural consequences that come from refusing meals or falling in mud.
A few months ago, my son ran his bike into a parked car on our street. I was not happy to hear that a neighbor’s car was scratched from his careless mistake. I told my son, “Here’s how this is gonna go. We will walk together to this person’s front door. I will not be speaking. You are going to share what you did and share that you are going to make it right, got it?” Mistakes teach.
Different kid, different scenario. I had a kid royally screw up on a test. He made super bad choices that I’ll omit the details of, and I refused to walk inside school and talk to the teacher about the situation. HIS situation, not mine. I already finished school. We told the kid, “Prepare for your grade to become a zero on that test. It’s time to show integrity and fill in your teacher. You have until noon tomorrow to inform her and accept that zero.” I emailed the teacher at 12:01 only to ask if my son had approached her. Shielding would have taught him nothing.
You’re a great mom. Consider this both a dare as well as a form of relief. You now get to turn off the lawnmower, take a step back, and watch your child step into the future as a fully functional adult!