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Types of Parenting Styles

Parenting seems a lot more complicated today—it’s not just you!  We even have new terms for it to further complicate matters.  The latest (unflattering) nickname likens people to lawnmowers, based on their parenting style.  Fortunately, we know you already have enough things on your plate, so we’re compiling all the latest terms into one easy-to-read blog.  Then, you can decide which one(s) best fit you or forget all of them and just create your own!

Starting with the “Lawnmower Parent”

This term originates from the habit some parents have of “mowing down” obstacles for their children. It stems from a good place, but their desire to make life as easy and uncomplicated as possible for their kids removes a lot of key opportunities for their offspring to develop problem-solving skills and a sense of independence.  The way in which they eliminate potential challenges/struggles also comes under fire with this description.  It’s not exactly flattering to be compared to a lawnmower, after all. One anonymous teacher had a hand in creating this expression, and you’ll find out why in this article.

The Last Trend: “Helicopter Parents”

Debuted in the 1990s, this term is the product of child-development researchers Jim Fay and Foster Cline.  It’s used to describe the parents’ tendency to hover—much like the aircraft they were named after—even as their children age.  They’re often depicted as overly focused on on their kids.  Normally, this isn’t a bad thing, but it can cause parents to assume responsibility for their children’s successes or failures. Unfortunately, if they’re assuming this burden, that leaves no incentive for their kids to do the same.  Even when their teenagers go off to college, these parents will continue to “hover” and try to help from a close distance.  You can learn more about this particular term here.

The Aggressive “Tiger Parent”

Coming from a self-professed “Tiger Mom,” this term didn’t exist before 2011 when Yale professor Amy Chua released her autobiographical Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.  Common in Asian households, this authoritarian parenting style is much stricter than the previous two and comes with extremely high standards.  Academic excellence and valuable extracurricular activities have high importance, sometimes at the expense of the carefree fun that characterizes childhood.  With a revised approach to “tough love,” proponents argue that this leads to more successful children, but critics disagree on what this means.  Chua used her own personal experience as the basis for this argument, but this harsh parenting style often has unwanted side effects in actual research.  See what a closer look at this theory brings.

Go Organic with the “Free-Range Parent”

Much as people believe that free-range eggs are the only way to go, some parents believe that giving their children more autonomy is a better practice.  This laidback approach involves letting kids walk to the bus alone or through the neighborhood.  Depending on where they live, they might even allow them to ride the bus or other modes of public transportation unaccompanied.  Of course, this comes with reason.  No one’s letting their toddlers roam the streets.  Still, there have been cases of dissenters reporting neglect when those as young as 8 have been seen walking alone.  Free-range parents believe that this style teaches their children to be more self-reliant and independent.  Meanwhile, others worry that this lesson comes at the expense of safety.  Decide for yourself after you read this article.


This list could go on and on, but at The Family Center, we encourage you not to get hung up on any label. As a parent, it’s more important to figure out what style works for you and your family, rather than worry about which type of trend you’re conforming to.  Usually, it’s a balancing act that allows you to meet the ever-changing needs of your growing children.  If you ever have questions about parenting, behavioral problem, or other mental health issues, don’t hesitate to reach out to our offices.

Man Mowing Lawn
Sunset Helicopter Ride
Girl Hiking in Mountains
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