Mowing Down Independence: Exploring the Effects of Lawnmower Parenting through Attachment and Trauma Perspective

As parenting styles continue to evolve, the concept of “lawnmower parenting” has emerged, describing a pattern of over-involvement where parents clear any obstacles from their child’s path, leaving them with a smooth, obstacle-free journey. While these parents may believe they are acting in their child’s best interest, the effects of lawnmower parenting on attachment and trauma warrant a closer examination.


Attachment theory, developed by John Bowlby, underscores the significance of a secure emotional connection between parents and children. Lawnmower parenting, however, often results in a distorted attachment dynamic. By relentlessly removing obstacles and challenges, parents may inadvertently hinder the development of a child’s emotional resilience and coping mechanisms. Children need to learn how to problem solve especially in social situations. This skill needs to be developed with the guidance of parents. Guidance is an important attachment need and cannot be replaced by parents over aching reach of removing obstacles.


As mentioned, children raised under lawnmower parenting conditions may struggle with forming secure attachments. The absence of struggle and the constant presence of parental intervention may create a sense of dependency, making it difficult for these children to navigate the challenges of relationships and responsibilities independently. As a result, they may lack the emotional tools necessary to establish healthy connections with peers, partners, and even within their own families in the future.


From a trauma perspective, lawnmower parenting can inadvertently contribute to the development of anxiety and stress disorders. Sheltering children from all potential difficulties denies them the opportunity to learn how to manage stress and adversity. As a consequence, when faced with inevitable challenges later in life, these individuals may find themselves ill-equipped to cope, leading to heightened stress levels and a greater susceptibility to trauma.


Moreover, the constant removal of obstacles by lawnmower parents may inadvertently send the message that the world is an inherently threatening place. This distorted worldview can lay the groundwork for chronic stress, impacting a child’s mental health and well-being long into adulthood. There can also be a created sense of entitlement. Children can develop a distorted view that systems and individuals own them a pampered experience.


It is essential for parents to recognize the importance of allowing their children to face challenges, make mistakes, and learn from failures. A balanced approach involves providing guidance and support while allowing children the space to develop their problem-solving skills and emotional resilience. By embracing an approach that encourages children to critical think and problem solve will help children be able to navigate life’s complexities independently, fostering a sense of competence and self-efficacy.


Lawnmower parenting, though well-intentioned, can inadvertently stunt a child’s emotional growth and hinder their ability to develop secure attachments and resilience. Recognizing the potential effects through the lenses of attachment theory and trauma can serve as a catalyst for parents to reassess their parenting approach. Striking a balance between support and independence is crucial for fostering emotionally healthy, resilient individuals who can navigate life’s challenges with confidence and adaptability.

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The EMDR & Trauma Therapy Centre provides in-person therapy in Toronto and virtual therapy across Ontario. Specializing in EMDR and trauma therapy.