So God Made a Teacher Collection (Sale!) ➔

At a recent back to school night for my middle school daughter, one of her teachers explained that it is time for our kids to take responsibility for their grades, and each student needed to be personally accountable. He told the classroom of parents that several kids received a zero on an assignment for not completing it on time, but it was a minimal portion of their grade. “The point is for them to understand from the get-go that deadlines are important, and there will be consequences.”

Several parents, including me, subtly checked phones to see if our kids received an F on their first assignment, and there was a lot of grimacing throughout the room. At the end of the session, I remained at my table to fill out some paperwork, and couldn’t help but overhear a conversation another parent was having with the teacher.

“You see, we were out-of-town this weekend, and I think there must have been a misunderstanding. My son always does his work. I’m sure he has it completed now, so he can get partial credit, right?” she said.

I watched as the teacher shook his head no, and I sheepishly handed in my form and left the room. I was a little shocked that after the accountability speech he just gave that anyone would dare try to get a grade changed. I realized at that moment that I’d just witnessed a lawnmower parent.

Lawnmower parents are to older kids what helicopter parents are to the younger set. Helicopter parents hover over their children and swoop in at the first sign of trouble. Lawnmower parents try to “mow down” any obstacle in their kids’ way that may cause disappointment or adversity, essentially creating a generation of kids who are not resilient and incapable of handling problems on their own.

I get it. I had to sit on my car keys at the end of last year when I saw my daughter’s history report, which she worked on the entire weekend, sitting on my kitchen counter. When she texted me right before school started begging for me to bring it to her, I didn’t respond until I knew her phone was tucked away in her locker for the day.

I knew my daughter sometimes got nervous speaking to her teachers and doesn’t like to admit she made a mistake. She struggles with organization and often waits until the last minute to finish things. Every ounce of my being wanted to take the project to her, email her teacher, fix the situation, but instead I simply replied: “Sorry, I was in the shower! I hope it works out! xoxo”

And then I wallowed in guilt for the remainder of the day.

No parent wants to see his or her children struggle or fail—it’s in our DNA to help our kids. But there is long-term damage that is occurring from this type of parenting.

Because many moms and dads are commandeering their children’s academic careers, students are arriving at high school or sometimes even college without any insight as to how to manage relationships with their teachers, counselors or peers. Since many parents have always bailed their children out when they forget assignments, gym clothes, or even their lunch, many kids have no problem-solving abilities and collapse at the first roadblock. And perhaps worse yet, lawnmower parents are producing kids who can’t make any decisions on their own in a complex, dangerous world.

It is painful to watch your kid struggle or be unhappy, but according to a recent viral Facebook post from WeAreTeachers, by interfering, we’re doing the exact opposite. “In raising children who have experienced minimal struggle, we are not creating a happier generation of kids. We are creating a generation that has no what idea what to do when they actually encounter struggle,” the author writes.

When my daughter returned home from school after not turning in her assignment, I immediately asked her what happened.

“I talked to my teacher at lunch and told him that I left my project at home,” she said. “He told me he was glad I spoke to him before class, and that he believed I finished it and would only deduct five points off. With the extra credit I did last week, it shouldn’t hurt my grade at all, but I’ll never forget again. I was so stressed!”

Huh. How about that.

The good news for those of us who find it hard to step back and let our kids fall? You can take baby steps. Encourage your children to communicate with teachers and coaches on their own, have them coordinate their social calendars, and most importantly, let them make mistakes—and figure out how to solve them.

It’s so hard to remember, but making mistakes is the only way we learn, kids included. You may have to sit on your keys like I did, but the payoff will be a stronger, more resilient and—hopefully—happier child.


You might also like:

It’s Lonely Being the Mom Who Says No

You’re Not Failing As a Mom; Sometimes It’s Just This Hard

To My Middle School Son

Dear Daughter As You Move On To Middle School

Want more stories of love, family, and faith from the heart of every home, delivered straight to you? Sign up here!

Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a freelance writer, and co-partner of the site You can find her on Facebook at WhitneyFlemingWrites.

Dear Kindergarten Teacher, I’m Giving You My Baby

In: Kids
newborn baby swaddled and sleeping

I just dropped my daughter off for her first day of kindergarten, and you couldn’t have been more wonderful. You caught her eye from across the playground and immediately waved. You greeted her by name with a warm smile, and you were totally OK (encouraging, even) with me hanging around for a while before actually leaving her. You looked me in the eye, smiled and greeted me happily, and pretended not to notice when I started tearing up while introducing myself. (Thank you for that.) My daughter was the first of your students to arrive, and you chatted with her...

Keep Reading

Childhood Is Messy with Imagination and I Want to Remember It All

In: Kids, Motherhood
Toys on bedroom floor

Sometimes I take random photos on my phone of my son’s bedroom or what he has built with his LEGOs. I do this because I know how quickly things change while he is this young. What he builds with LEGOs is always evolving, becoming more intricate and sophisticated. When I look around his room and see everything that is there, it’s like a snapshot of the season we are in. And all I want to do is capture each season. Capture what life looks like for us, for him. I envision showing him these photos when he is grown, maybe...

Keep Reading

God Bless the Middle School Teachers Who Love Our Tweens and Teens

In: Kids, Teen, Tween
Middle school students smiling

I keep seeing articles about kindergartners heading off to school for the first time, and parents are feeling all the things kindergarten parents feel. I’ve been a middle school teacher for my entire career, and I know for sure that middle school parents are feeling all the feelings too. We teachers are ready to receive your babies in middle school too. In our neck of the woods, middle school starts in sixth grade. Fifth graders were at the top of the pyramid in elementary school, but they arrive in middle school as the little ones. In the eyes of the...

Keep Reading

6 Things the Parent of a Child With Medical Needs Learns

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child holding baby doll

My 9-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a few months before her 2nd birthday. She uses a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to watch her blood glucose levels and a pump that administers insulin. Before these amazing pieces of medical technology, we were pricking her fingers up to 10 times a day and giving insulin injections at about the same rate—ouch! There are many parents out there with children with special medical needs. One mom I know has to give her autistic son enemas every day because of digestive issues. Another mom has a child with highly specialized dietary...

Keep Reading

As Another School Year Begins, Remember Mama: You Know Your Child Best

In: Kids, Motherhood
little girl holding a first day of kindergarten sign

Dear mom buying school supplies and feeling overwhelmed, Stop and pray. Ask God to help you envision each child as the young adult they can be. Write out your goals for that child . . . fair warning, there will likely be very little academic success in your goals. You may even have to go back and write those in. Take a deep breath. Keep this list of goals nearby. Go back and read them when the world is telling you your child doesn’t stack up somewhere. They aren’t reading as fast, they’re not “getting” math, their handwriting is wonky,...

Keep Reading

Every Time the Doctor Says, “It’s a Girl!” My Heart Grows a Little More

In: Kids, Motherhood
Sisters sitting on park bench

When I’m in the grocery store with my girls, I always get comments. My oldest girls are walking near the cart with my two-year-old running up and down the aisles. “Three little girls! Wow! God bless you, Momma!” Then they look in my cart and see the car seat holding my nine-month-old. “Is that a baby boy in there?” “No, another girl!” I reply. I get a variety of responses when people realize I have four girls under the age of seven. “Wow, you’ve got your hands full!” “Going to try for a boy?” “You are truly blessed—your girls are...

Keep Reading

Raising a Child with a Severe Food Allergy Affects the Whole Family

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy looking at ice cream cone

I saw something recently that said, “It’s National Ice Cream Day today!” and I cannot stop thinking about it. Now I know that sounds silly, but as a mom of a child with a severe dairy (and egg) allergy, I must admit at times it makes me sad (and more often jealous if I’m being completely honest) when I know my son is going to miss out on another fun or “normal” thing that other kids his age are experiencing, like actual ice cream and ice cream parties. If I continue to be honest, I get jealous when I see...

Keep Reading

So You’re Not the Fun Parent…So What?

In: Kids, Marriage, Motherhood
Woman reading book while two play in background

I’m not the fun parent in our household. Of course, this comes as no surprise to me but it still stung when my 8-year-old said to me rather bluntly the other night, “Daddy’s way more fun than you.” And while the rational part of my brain knows better than to take this kind of comment to heart, my super-sensitive, highly emotional primitive brain did the exact opposite and ran with it.  Daddy is the more fun parent. I’m the stricter, more rigid, and more uptight parent. I’m not the type of parent who, in the spur of the moment, will...

Keep Reading

Mine Is the Shy Kid

In: Kids
Girl sitting on side of playground

I’m the mom of one really shy child. But not your quintessential shy kid. I don’t mean she is “slow to warm up,” because my daughter might not warm up at all. And I don’t mean that she’s only shy until she gets to know you. There are friends and family members she still hides from or won’t talk to. What I mean is my almost-4-year-old struggles so much with her shyness that it’s hard for her to interact with most people. Especially her peers. I’ve Googled more than you could ever imagine about this topic: How shy is too...

Keep Reading

In This Magical Place Called Kindergarten

In: Kids
Kids at elementary school circle time

It’s hard to put into words what happens in a classroom in the course of a year. Especially a kindergarten classroom. For many children, this is their first experience away from home, from their place of comfort and security—the place where they can always be themselves. But teachers are a special breed—especially teachers of littles. And they step into this substitute role with the biggest hearts and the most love to give. They take this unknown, intimidating place and then transform it into a magical, wondrous adventure. A classroom, a community, a family. A place where these little people can...

Keep Reading

Get our FREE phone wallpaper to encourage you as the new school year begins

It's bittersweet for a mother to watch her child grow—but you both are ready to soar.