The Lawnmower Mom

I’m leading a small group on Genesis, so I’ve been reading a lot about the Patriarchs and, in particular, Jacob. At the end of his life, Jacob blessed each of his 12 sons, but some of the blessings weren’t what we would normally consider a blessing. He laid out things they’d done in their past, good or bad, and how the tendency to commit the same sin might make them struggle in the future. It impressed me how direct Jacob was… He wasn’t concerned about whether his kids would like him, or be mad at him, or get their feelings hurt. He spoke in love because he wanted his children to know their weaknesses and overcome them.

Then I read about lawnmower parents and how they clear a path for their children so their kids can avoid struggle and don’t have to deal with their weaknesses. For example, if a lawnmower parent has a child who’s afraid to speak in front her class, the parent would tell the teacher, “My child gets anxiety when she has to give a speech, so she needs to be excused from doing it.”

Lawnmower parents run ahead of their kids and clear anything out of their path for fear they will stumble. As a result, they never encounter a fall and never learn how to get back up on their feet. Unlike Jacob’s children, these kids will never face their weaknesses—until they are adults. And then it will be a huge shock to them. You see, you can’t be with them forever.

You can’t follow them to work.

Eventually, our kids have to live in the adult world leading meetings. So, can you put him in a job where he doesn’t have to do that? And he gets nervous around new people, so can he skip the interview for the promotion he wants? “He gets uncomfortable, he’s shy” will not work as an excuse.

You can’t give them grit.

Our children need to know if something is hard for them. And they need to struggle with it and wrestle with it so they can build up their muscles and understand what they really do like and what they’re good at and not good at. Grit and determination are good. I have preached that to my kids; you have got to have the grit to do what you want to do.

You can’t stop them from becoming an adult.

As our kids become adults, we have a reckoning—we must be able to endure letting them struggle and even flounder. Our goal should be to teach them to use their strengths and not let their weaknesses hold him back. If you lawnmower for your kids you’re going to give them a false sense of security because they are never going to have struggled and learned what they’re really capable of.

I like how Jacob was honest with his kids about what he saw as their strengths and weaknesses.

If you have some thoughts on how to get a better understanding of the different ways we lawnmower our kids I’d love to hear from you; I want to engage more on this topic with moms because it is very common and very important.

How can we not be a lawnmower mom and instead be the mom God designed us to be for our individual children?

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