Understanding the new parenting philosophies

“Few things are more satisfying than seeing your children have teenagers of their own.” — Doug Larson, newspaper columnist and editor

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As parents, our smiles are large when we sense our children finally catching on to bits of wisdom we’ve anguished over trying to teach them. That smile is even larger some years later when they call to share their anguish over trying to impart that identical piece of wisdom to their children.

My daughter Robin shares more of those days with me than does my son, Lee, but I suspect that is more of a mom thing than a dad thing. It’s also worth noting that Lee is the quiet one while my daughter, well, let’s just say that when it comes to a love for talking, she takes after her father.

Both of my children are much better parents than I was. And that’s not lamenting over any notions about my not a being good parent, but more in acknowledging that with every generation that comes along, more information and resources from previous generations are available on which parents can draw. For instance, did you know that parents are now using bulldozers, snowplows, and helicopters to raise their children? I had no clue, but evidently, it’s true. I read it on the interweb, so we know it has to be a fact, right?

This enlightenment came to me through a desire to understand some of the changing philosophies in child-rearing so I would be informed in generational discussions with my children who are now raising their children. I have to say, however, while I still have no concept of how bulldozer, snowplow, or helicopter parenting works, I felt much better when I stumbled onto the latest philosophy in child-rearing: lawnmower parenting. It’s defined as a parent who, “intervenes or ‘mows down’ any inconvenience that stands before their child.”

I knew what that meant because I was obviously raised by lawnmower parents. I was blessed with wonderful, loving parents who intervened to eliminate any inconvenience standing in the way of my chores and household duties every week for things like taking out the trash, keeping Mom’s flower beds weed free, and yes: mowing the lawn. Mom didn’t cut me much slack when it came to keeping her yard looking nice either, and she was the one reviewing my work every Saturday. Therefore, getting paid to do chores didn’t excite me a lot until the day it dawned on me that failing to complete them meant no allowance money.  

Dad and mom were also good to intervene in eliminating any inconvenience standing in the way of me expanding my work for pay programs by mowing yards for neighbors. My longest-running lawnmower job was for the Vanderpools who owned a drug store on Jefferson Street in Mount Pleasant just down from Perry Brothers 5¢-10¢ store that was located where Glynn’s Western Wear is today. Mowing their yard led to another after-school job cleaning the soda fountain and emptying trash.

That income stream was sufficient for me to enjoy a Saturday afternoon matinee at the Martin theater with popcorn. On a good week, I might even be found riding my bicycle home from town with a comic book or a model car.

Although I never knew it was called lawnmower parenting, it’s heartening to know that parenting skills still include teaching the value of jobs like mowing the lawn to earn money for movies and other activities.

Admittedly, I have yet to delve into the concept of bulldozer parenting or helicopter parenting. They sound dangerous to me. Maybe my kids can help me with those. They have teenagers.

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—Leon Aldridge

Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune,  the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, and the Alpine Avalanche.

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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