When you get “old,” it’s human nature to look at the generation coming after you and think they don’t quite live up to your legacy. “Bunch of pampered babies,” you think. “They don’t know what real trouble is.”
It’s probably true in some areas. I remember growing up not having a clue what central heat and air was. We had a furnace for the winter and during the summer all the doors were open, the windows were up and a fan was going in every room. I don’t recall ever being truly bothered by heat until I was 29.
What happened when I was 29? I moved into a house with central heat and air. Everything stayed closed up and life was comfortable even if it was 95 degrees outside.
There was a downside. When I was a kid, my mother would throw a fit during the summer if the electric bill was more than $30. Now, you’re lucky if it’s below $200 a month, no matter what time of the year it is.
I don’t recall ever being coddled. My concerns weren’t dismissed out of hand, but they were treated the way a child’s concerns should be treated, most of the time. Find out if the problem is serious and if it’s not, make fun of the child.
I know. I’m a terrible person. There’s a meme (look it up if you’re past a certain age) floating around the internet and it asks how your parents responded if you accidentally touched a hot stove.
Half of the meme shows a woman hugging her tearful child while the other half shows the father from the old TV show “Good Times,” with a big grin on his face, saying, “I bet you won’t try that nonsense again, will you?”
As both a kid and an adult I prefer the second response. I’m not much for carrying on about stuff. Everything eventually comes to an end and in retrospect nothing ever really seems that bad. Well, aside from things involving death, of course.
Anyway, I’m rambling because I came across a story the other day that said helicopter parents were being pushed aside by something called “lawnmower parenting.” Helicopter parents have been known for always hovering around their kids, basically spending every non-working hour with them, offering advice, but usually stopping short of taking action when it comes to influencing their kids’ events.
Lawnmower parents have no stop sign when it comes to their kids. If they see something going wrong their kids, they jump right in and make sure everything goes right, or at least what they feel is the right outcome.
They also seem to be ruled by their kids. The term came into being when a teacher somewhere made an internet post about how a parent showed up at school, bringing his daughter a bottle of water. The teacher said the guy was dressed in a suit and had obviously come from work. To his credit, the teacher said the father was sheepish and seemed embarrassed, but when his daughter needed something, she knew all she had to do was send a text and daddy would come running.
The daughter, by the way, was in high school and I guess just found drinking fountains too gross to contemplate. Lawnmower parents, according to this teacher, tend to have older kids, an age where hovering like a helicopter is frowned upon, but if they need something, mommy and daddy better get on the ball.
And if that need is letting a coach of some sport know they need to be playing Johnny or Susie, that parent will come and mow that coach down.
It is true that every generation has it a little easier than the one before. That’s mainly due to technology advancing, but it’s also what most parents work for. The parents of my generation told tales of how they were “whipped” on a regular basis. The physical abuse (and that’s what it was) was winding down for my generation, but we still got the “look” whenever we got out of hand. And, there were eye rolls whenever we complained about something that didn’t matter.
I don’t know what the generations after me are dealing with, but I’m sure it’s something that kids won’t be dealing with in 20 years and they’ll be considered soft and pampered.
Though, I’m not really sure I want to see the day when we reach “chainsaw parents.” That couldn’t be good.