11 Signs You're a 'Lawnmower Parent'

man mowing lawn

If you thought "helicopter parents" were bad, brace yourself for the newest breed of parent who takes things one step further: "lawnmower parents." These parents don't just hover; they step out in front of their kids and clear a path, smoothing over any rough patches before their children even encounter them (they're also called "curling parents" who, like a sweeper in the sport curling, groom an area in anticipation of their child's arrival). Whatever you call them, it can help to know the signs that that's whom you're dealing with -- or, heck, if you're prone to becoming one yourself! Heed these tip-offs below to see if you or other parents you know might fit the bill.

  1. Bye-Bye, Fido and Fluffy. Before your child was even born, you found a new home for your dog and cat, just so there was zero chance that they might scratch or bite your baby.
  2. You're a Picky Play Dater. In an effort to squash play date fights before they happen, you hand-select meeker, younger kids as companions for your child. Anyone taller or older than your kid is a potential bully. 
  3. You Referee Fights. If you spot an argument brewing between your child and another, you step in and break it up rather than letting the kids hash it out themselves. If it's really bad -- say, they both want to play with your child's T-Rex Transformer -- you ask the other kid's parents to buy their own. That way, your kids can play together but don't have to share. Problem solved!
  4. You Got Your Kid Golf Lessons. Starting at age 2. Hey, it's never too early for your kids to learn this power game! You've probably got him signed up for tennis by then, too.
  5. You "Red-Shirt" Up the Wazoo. If your child is anywhere near the "cutoff" that would make him the youngest kid in class, you decide to hold him back a year, just so he could be one of the oldest, biggest kids. Who wouldn't want their kids to be the star quarterback or valedictorian rather than a shrimp who's struggling to keep up in class?

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  6. You "Help" With Homework. By "help," that could mean checking every answer to make sure it's right or, heck, just completing the assignments yourself. You've even learned how to fake your kid's handwriting so teachers can't tell the difference.
  7. You Go to Bat Over Every "B." You argue with teachers over every grade your child gets -- that's not an A. After all, every grade counts in terms of getting into a good college.
  8. You Volunteer for the PTA. But it's not so much out of the goodness of your heart, but because you know it'll get you in good with your child's teachers and the school principal ... and that could come in handy in countless ways down the road.  
  9. You Network Up a Storm. You call every mover and shaker you know to request summer internships for your child. Later on, your hit them up again for glowing letters of recommendation for college.
  10. You "Help" With College Applications. You not only fill out your child's college applications, you even wrote the "personal" essay yourself about how your child has surmounted so many challenges on his own (yeah, right).  
  11. You Bribe Admissions Officers. When you mail in your child's college application, you include "something extra" for the admissions officers: homemade cookies! Or spa gift certificates. Or a huge donation to the school.

Do you know any lawnmower parents?


Image © Roy McMahon/Corbis

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