I was reading a parenting article online a few weeks ago, defining the Lawn Mower Parent. As I understand it, a Lawn Mower Parent goes in front of their children to plow down any obstacles to their happiness and success. Nope. I am definitely not a Lawn Mower Parent. For the record, I am also not a Tiger Mother, Helicopter Parent, Authoritative Parent, or, on the reverse side, a Disengaged Parent (although I suspect several past room moms might disagree with that one).
Does my parenting style defy labels? I don’t think so. But I’m not finding myself in too many of these advertised parenting styles. Like most of us, I want to be available but not pushy. I want my children to own their own failures and triumphs. I want to know enough about their school work, teachers, friends, and activities, but not so much that it keeps me up at night.
My husband tells me I’m a Hippy Parent because I encourage my kids to find their own paths and walk them in their own way. I draw pretty big boxes of acceptable behavior and allow my children freedom within those bounds to express themselves, join or not join, and otherwise assume responsibility for themselves. Isabelle loves having colorful hair and Isaac thinks twice a year haircuts are frequent enough. One kid joins in club and school activities, one chose to participate only when required. However they choose to engage the world, I don’t sweat it.
Unfortunately, that can translate as not caring. For example, high school parent-teacher conferences will come and go again this year and I will likely not attend. I care how my children perform in school. I care how they treat others. I care very much how they are treated by peers and adults alike. These are topics discussed daily at our house, not in the abstract, but with very real concrete situations. I just don’t see any value in moving from table to table to talk to teachers whose job it is to interact with my kid, not me. My kids do tell me things that happened at school or with friends or at practice after school. Do they tell me everything? No way. But even if I went to conferences, I wouldn’t know it all anyway. Because these are not my experiences.
As in all aspects of life, there’s a sweet spot in parenting and I suspect most of us aim for that. Like every other sweet spot, it’s hard to hit. My kids are not raising themselves. But to be honest, I don’t remember whether my high school daughter has French on even days or odd. And I don’t remember when she goes to lunch. I have no idea (unless she tells me) when her next math test is scheduled. But that’s okay! I know there are people out there who just can’t wrap their heads around my parenting style, but I promise there is room for all kinds of parents out there.
I can’t be a helicopter parent because I don’t know how to hover. While it breaks my heart when my kids get broken hearts, I’m not sure I would know the first thing about creating an easier path for them to walk either. And the only Tiger Mothering I could accomplish would be as comic relief. I didn’t set out to parent this way, it’s just what organically evolved over the last 18 years. I guess it’s what my kids and I need. I knew my daughter was going to navigate her experiences with academia and life in general just fine when she organized a lunchroom protest in the fifth grade without my suggestions or help. She’s been doing alright ever since.
I don’t want to apologize anymore for being the Hippy Parent. I’m just going to hang loose over here in the groove with my fab kids and hunky spouse and just do what we do.