'Lawmower' versus 'Let Grow' — no, they're not gardening techniques, but parenting terms.

The term 'helicopter' parenting has been around for decades. It evokes images of well-meaning guardians hovering over a child, starting with the earliest days on a playground.

More recently, experts have noticed an offshoot from so-called lawnmower parenting, as some parents 'mow down' any obstacles facing their children. (A brief side note: 'kids' these days are in Generation Z or Alpha, which starts with those born in 2013. The youngest Millennials are in their 20s.)

Let Grow is a grassroots organization with a mission statement to 'future-proof' kids, by countering a "culture of over protection." Supporters say removing obstacles that young children are faced with only delays their decision making skills. Instead, they'll be tested during larger life milestones, like as new drivers and at college.

For self-aware helicopter parents, a tendency toward 'hovering' is often chalked up to the new range of fears in the modern world. As one blogging mom puts it, she'd rather err on the side of being over-involved when trying to protect her children. There's also unprecedented educational demands that encourage heavy parental involvement from an early age.

Let Grow Executive Director Tracy Tomasso agrees that over-protection stems from good intentions, but says squelching a child's early attempts at risk assessment ultimately does more harm than good. The organization also claims that crime rates are among the lowest they've been in generations. (Rates were a mixed bag across NJ in 2017.)

Tomasso suggests trying to be mindful when a child asks to take on a new responsibility or 'freedom', and look to meet that request within your personal 'comfort zone'.

There's currently an open call for New Jersey schools interested in adopting the "Let Grow Project." Participating families pledge to help expand kids' responsibilities, doing one thing that they feel ready to do that they haven't done yet, like walk the dog or make dinner.

There's also efforts to expand the 'Let Grow Play Club.' That entails giving kids a safe space (school gym or playground) with no organized activities, just kids learning how to make their own fun in unstructured play.

Further reading:

Proud Jersey Girl Erin Vogt’s first reporting gig involved her Fisher Price tape recorder. As a wife and momma of two kiddies, she firmly believes that life’s too short to drink bad coffee.  A fan of the beach, Dave Grohl and karma, in no particular order.

Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook as ProudJersey.

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