How being a ‘lawn mower’ parent will only set your kid up for failure

Seriously – you do your son’s homework for him?

You make excuses for your daughter when she doesn’t show up for school on time? Really?

Are you going to follow them to college and their first job to make sure they’re happy and comfortable every moment there too?

If you think you’re doing those things for your kid, take a good look in the mirror. You’re selfish. All those things you’re doing…well, you’re not really doing them for your kid. You’re doing them for you, because the thought of your kid being unhappy, struggling, failing, and not being able to compete with their peers drives you crazy.

But here’s the irony. Doing anything for your kid that he could do for himself actually accomplishes the opposite of what you truly want. It ruins your child’s chance for success in life because it weakens their resolve, kills their resilience, tears down their self-concept, and diminishes their desire to do anything in life on their own.

If that’s what you’re after, keep doing what you’re doing. If not, consider this…

Talk to any successful person, and you’ll find struggle and failure aplenty in their past. Consider myself, such a poor student that I was placed in the low-reading group with the kids who flunked a class twice in high school. The only way I could get into college was on probation. Most people thought I’d amount to nothing. But here I am, with a doctorate to boot – all because a wise mom let me experience some things in life the hard way to wake me up and get me on the right track.

If you snowplow the roads of life for your kid – doing things he could and should do for himself, making all his decisions for him – you rob him of developing the psychological muscles he needs to not only contribute to society but be a decent human being.

Your child needs to struggle, fail, and feel the sting of his mistakes sometimes. Are you always happy? No. Then why should your child be? You’re presenting an unrealistic picture of what life is like.

An unhappy child is a healthy child, and failure is a step on the road to success. Look at it this way. If you’re happy and everything is going well, are you motivated to change?

No. It’s when things aren’t going well that you start evaluating, Mmm, that didn’t work so well. Maybe I should try something different next time.

The same thinking is true for your child. When a child is unhappy, it’s often because he’s done something wrong, failed to do something he should have done, or simply the fact that you, parent, aren’t falling in line with his wishes at this instant in time. If so, being unhappy will motivate him to do something different next time – if you don’t give in, feel guilty for his unhappiness, and fix the situation for him. If you do, you’re not fixing the situation. You’re making the next situation and the rest of his life worse.

So don’t snow-plow your kid’s roads. Every child needs to learn to shovel a little snow, even if they live in southern California.