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Are Lawn Mower Parents the New Helicopter Moms?

CCEdit_TorreyCCEdit_Torrey Editor Posts: 113 Editor
Dave Berry explains what "lawn mower parents" are and how they handle college admissions: https://www.collegeconfidential.com/articles/lawn-mower-parents/
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Replies to: Are Lawn Mower Parents the New Helicopter Moms?

  • PublisherPublisher Registered User Posts: 4,543 Senior Member
    Loved the article; enjoyed the humor.

    But there are undesirable consequences for being an over-involved parent as well as for being an under-involved parent.
  • LindagafLindagaf Registered User Posts: 8,360 Senior Member
    This reminds me of the post a year or so back. A parent was wondering what people did about their kids taking reusable water bottles to college. The parent was concerned that his/her child might not wash out the bottle properly with soap and hot water. I felt a little sorry for that parent, because you can imagine the responses he/she got.
  • TiggerDadTiggerDad Registered User Posts: 1,635 Senior Member
    After driving literally hundreds of miles each week to music lessons, rehearsals, recitals, concerts, concerto competitions, tennis matches, volleyball matches, cooking, laundry, etc. all throughout my boys' high school years, I was one burnt out parent let alone "lawn mower" or "heli-lawn" parent or whatever....
  • collegekid1337collegekid1337 Registered User Posts: 17 Junior Member
    I can't wait to be a lawn-mower parent!
  • collegemomjamcollegemomjam Registered User Posts: 1,568 Senior Member
    @Nocreativity1 I couldn't agree more. Not sure if you have seen the "Race in college admissions..." thread that is very active (you might be on there already?).

    There are plenty of great schools out there....if your kid doesn't make the cut for their dream school, chances are they are capable of getting in a different school that might be slightly less prestigious (and maybe just as prestigious!), but perfectly wonderful. There are just not enough spots at the top schools. Period.

    I have no problem with a parent helping their child maximize their personal information by getting the best college application together that they possibly can, but by all means, make sure they don't think they are that special that if they are denied a spot at their dream school that they are a "victim". There just aren't enough spots. It's no one's fault. Sometimes it's like winning the lottery.

    Make sure the list is robust in the range of schools that are on there.
  • websensationwebsensation Registered User Posts: 1,774 Senior Member
    I was an involved parent in HS. Now that my kid is in college, I am a hands off parent. I am one parent glad my kid not in HS.
  • HankCTHankCT Registered User Posts: 28 Junior Member
    Each kid is different. My youngest does all of her homework and studying without a single push, and aces everything. She's self motivated. My oldest needs to frequently be pushed, reminded, and checked on. We constantly struggle to not helicopter, and to make them do as much as they can themselves. But it isn't easy. The big challenge is that some kids (myself included), aren't mature enough for a life-altering business relationship in their teenage years, which is really what HS and college admissions are. I would say most kids aren't ready for it, and certainly aren't mature enough for it. There are plenty of exceptions, of course.

    So we tow the line between harping on them to apply in time for deadlines, but never DOING the application. Making them write yet another college essay when the draft(s) aren't great, but not writing it for them. Telling them to apply to reach schools, as well as safeties, and telling them the odds with realistic expectations. I made my daughter ask for her own letters of recommendation, but man we had to be on her A LOT to finally get her to do it.

    So when you have a smart kid, who isn't motivated, it's tough to "teach them a lesson" if/when they flounder in HS and miss college entirely, because they were too immature to know what they were missing. Using myself and my wife an examples ... I was not mature (or informed as my parents knew zero about college and didn't care) that I missed college applications entirely, and had mediocre grades, and then had to claw my way from community college to a meh 4 year school. I made the best of it, but I lost a LARGE amount of lifetime income because of this lack of guidance and initiative. My wife had a different path, her older brother had gone to Yale on full scholarship, she was considered the "failure" for being a B+ student in HS. So her parents didn't really care what she did and she chose a school she regrets and a major she regrets more (film theory, which was a waste of 4 years in her rear view mirror opinion).

    So yes, as parents, I feel we need to walk the line. We're more mature, we're experienced, we have their best long term interests in mind. We have to figure out a way to help and guide, without controlling with a joystick,
  • ekdad212ekdad212 Registered User Posts: 164 Junior Member
    I think writers coin terms like "lawn mower parent" hoping it will go viral and make a name for themselves. Then they write articles like this one as click-bait ("Are you a Lawn Mower Parent? What does that even mean? Click HERE to find out!"
  • Nocreativity1Nocreativity1 Registered User Posts: 544 Member
    edited November 13
    ^Yes they are master baiters with those click bait terms.

    Perhaps you should start a thread "I don't like Master Baiters" I suspect you will get clicks.
  • KLSDKLSD Registered User Posts: 184 Junior Member
    Do you maintain one or more paths still available for your child (that you believe they will be passionate about, for them not you reliving your teen years) or do you mow down the whole field? There is a huge difference.

    Times have changes and society has created an artificial hard clear line between an adult and a child at 18 and 21. --***Colleges used to give you a chance at admissions by having low freshman retention rates. "Look left, look right, only 2 out of 3 of you will be here next year." This was the speech given to many freshman classes in the 1980s. Boys especially mature later than their freshman and sophomore HS transcript.
    ***HIPA laws make it difficult or impossible to slowly hand over the reigns of managing health related issues and help during a crisis. Let's face it, many of our spouses also need a push to see a doctor.
    ***College grades used to be sent to the person paying the bill. This was certainly an incentive for students.
    ***The vaping epidemic replaced smoking and is being directly marketed to young brains, training them to crave a high. Marijuana laws are changing, kid products are available in and candy or flavor and the % of THC is increasing. Lobbyists and CEOs should testify in front of congress with cameras rolling. Teaching college students to drink responsibly in a social setting would be so much more productive than binge drinking.
    ***Current HS students get all of their information online, but have little or no understanding of a valid source. Our college age children had very different educational experiences, learning first from a paper book or Kindle type device without WiFi.
    ***High stakes testing has replaced learning time starting in 3rd grade.
    ***Many more families face financial insecurity closer to retirement age by paying over-inflated tuition in a system that makes little sense - work hard, save money, stay married, pay more. It is difficult to criticize protecting that enormous investment.

    I often think that we lost the village, neighborhood, faith community, multi generational family structure that did a great job of redirecting youth when they hit a roadblock or dangerous fork in the road. Our cities are safer, but our school environments and our neighborhood homes are not a safe haven. Right or wrong, parents are trying to do all of this at once in a bubble and then completely cut the strings when children leave for college. We know so much more about the developing brain, but are not using the data to create policy and a better road-map for parents to follow.
  • hopedaisyhopedaisy Registered User Posts: 59 Junior Member
    edited November 15
    @HankCT- I really liked what you said:

    "So when you have a smart kid, who isn't motivated, it's tough to "teach them a lesson" if/when they flounder in HS and miss college entirely, because they were too immature to know what they were missing. Using myself and my wife an examples ... I was not mature (or informed as my parents knew zero about college and didn't care) that I missed college applications entirely, and had mediocre grades, and then had to claw my way from community college to a meh 4 year school. I made the best of it, but I lost a LARGE amount of lifetime income because of this lack of guidance and initiative. My wife had a different path, her older brother had gone to Yale on full scholarship, she was considered the "failure" for being a B+ student in HS. So her parents didn't really care what she did and she chose a school she regrets and a major she regrets more (film theory, which was a waste of 4 years in her rear view mirror opinion)."

    Some kids are naturally self-motivated and can be left on their own, but many more kids lack the maturity to even KNOW what they are missing and the lifetime consequences that result from not taking school and the college process seriously. My DD is a freshman, very bright but never had the confidence that she was a good student (in spite of great grades in middle school). She started at a large, top high school this year in all honors classes and for the first few weeks I let her be. But after a few B test grades that discouraged her I realized she needed help and guidance with how to study and be a good student. Success breeds confidence which breeds success. I pushed her to go to her teachers with any questions or concerns. I pushed her to make study guides and start studying for tests early. I pushed her to schedule-out all of her work so that she wouldn't procrastinate. As she started to get A's on everything her confidence soared and she began to believe that she was capable. This resulted in her loving school and taking great interest in her own learning. And the truth is as a parent I know how much gpa is make-or-break in college acceptance and financial aid. I could have had her "learn a lesson" but her gpa would have taken a permanent hit. If I am called a "lawnmower parent" or whatever is the latest label then so be it. Our educational system has changed financially that there is little room for kids to overcome early mistakes due to immaturity.
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