Snowplow Parenting: What It Means and How It Affects Your Kids?

A parent will go to lengths for their children. It is said that a parent’s love is one of the most important ingredients in a child’s life. But a little too much, and it becomes toxic.

Some parents protect their child like it’s an apocalypse out there. A single cough or sneeze and they’ll call the entire medical facility over. They’ll shower a fortune just to get their child in their favorite college or make an appearance at their child’s workplace to consider their “humble offer.” They’ll always be there like “machines chugging ahead, clearing any obstacles in their child’s path to success, so they don’t have to encounter failure, frustration, or lost opportunities.”

I wouldn’t blame them. Any parent would want the very best for their children in life. Still, sometimes the boundaries are blurred, and parents forget that facilitating and supporting their child in their hardships is way different than being the shield to every difficulty of life.

Like its predecessor, helicopter parenting, snowplow parenting is becoming one of the shared parenting styles around the world. Like a helicopter, parents would hover around their children on every step of the journey. Only now, parents believe that it wasn’t enough.

Are You Practicing Snowplow Parenting?

The love for their child often blinds parents to the bitter realities of life. Look at it as a game of baseball. The stadium is your child’s life, and like all other onlookers, you have played your part and must take a seat and cheer them on. Yeah, maybe you’re in the VVIP seats obviously, but you still can’t get down on the field and swing the bat for your child or run the home run. Because if you do who won – you or your child?

Maybe you’re snowplow parenting your child, and before it’s too late, let’s have a look where we’re going wrong.

  1. Bearing all expenses: Till a certain age, it goes unsaid that the parents incur all costs, but once children reach a certain age, parents need to let their birds fly. Snowplow parenting works a bit differently. Such parents never make their children realize the worth of hard work and each penny that is earned. This does not mean that the parent should make the child feel like a burden but let the child see past the filters of luxury and the need to be financially independent.
  2. Scheduling appointments and meeting deadlines: There is one quality in the cooperate field that will always put you on edge – punctuality. Being punctual is an attribute you can learn only with practice and failing. Parents that will snowplow their child’s way through life unconsciously depriving their child of this quality. Be it medical appointments, interviews, or college admissions; some parents will never let the child learn the power of punctuality.
  3. Paperwork and documentation: I cannot emphasize enough on how many times I have suffered because I did not take care of some personal documents. I guess I learned my lesson. Children must show responsibility for personal documents. Parents that “proactively” interfere with getting these tasks done as well, don’t let the children learn mindfulness, accountability, and self-dependence.
  4. Filling applications and applying for student loans: I think the thrill of college life is in those moments gathering funds for college, searching for good colleges and applying for loans. It is described by the moment you hold the acceptance letter in your hand, your parents peeping over your shoulder as you tear it open in anticipation. Snowplow parenting lacks this. Why? Because your parents do all the work.
  5. Controlling college life: Do you know what control is in an experiment? That’s precisely what snowplow parents do to their children. Providing your child the ideal conditions every step of the way conveniently masks their weaknesses and strengths. College life is the perfect stage for practical experience, but parents believe in handicapping their children with money and sources. The Operation Varsity Blues scandal is a predicament enough.
  6. Excessive meddling in career and adulthood: Considering that snowplow parents have pretty much made their children so dependent, it will be hard getting them to succeed in the real world. So snowplow parents will chug their child’s way into careers that parents have a strong network in. About 14 percent of parents have admitted to doing this.

Did you know in a survey, 11% parents said they would contact their child’s employers if there were an issue; 16% confessed to calling their children living away to wake them up for college; 8% have meddled with professors and school administrators for grading?

Read more on how to stay in touch with your child, who lives far away?

Effects of Snowplow Parenting

Many parents that practice snowplow parenting may feel offended. After all, what’s so terrible in wanting to protect your child? Why is snowplow parenting bad? Which forces me to ask: how long will you be your child’s shield? What happens once you’re not around?

The effects of snowplow parenting do not surface immediately, but it’s like a tumor growing silently behind overprotection and too much affection. The long-term effects settle in only to make its entrance in the direst and grave situations.

Weak Critical Thinking Skills:

The art of tackling curveballs and making decisions in the spur of the moment is one that requires a lot of experience, critical thinking, and maturity. You cannot always run to your parents for help. Snowplow parents are unable to polish this quality in their children. Such parents should let their children fail and stumble. Be there to hold them but let them find their path themselves.

Frustration and Anxiety:

In the long-run, you cannot always be there to take the hits, so when your child has to step forth, the raw and unshielded experience is rough and challenging, more than usual. The sudden contrast of suddenly facing the cruel world cripples your child’s self-esteem in the first blow. Frustration and anxiety are bound to follow and accompany. Be a firm yet a flexible parent. Learn to say no to your child and let them experience life.

Lack of Self-Efficacy:

It is one of the most hindering effects of snowplow parenting. The child that had his hands tied will never trust himself whenever he makes a move. The child will always feel under confident and incapable of dealing with life.

Carefree and Apathetic Attitude towards Life:

The sad truth is that as a result of snowplow parenting, the child cannot empathize and relate to actual problems of life. To them, life has always been on a silver platter, and when life offers them scraps and leftovers, they won’t know what to do but cry about it. Worst of all, such children will never know when opportunities knock at their doors and what hardships can shape them into.

In summary, snowplow parents are like sprinters in a marathon. In the first half, they’ll be winning the race, but they’ll be left behind in the long run. Parenting is not about just bringing up a child. It’s about bringing up a strong, resilient child who can repay and support his parents when the time is right.

Laurel Hiebert

Laurel Hiebert has just emerged from her teenage years and exploring life with its ups and downs. At a tender age, she discovered her love for reading and writing. English classes were always her favorite because she got to paint a canvas of her own imagination. It was not until recently that she shifted from story writing to proper content writing. She set off on her journey with a single goal in mind: to never stop learning.

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