Dangerous trend sees ‘snowplough’ parents stop at nothing to prevent their children failing

It’s natural to want to want the best for your children and to do everything in your power to make their lives as easy and straightforward as possible.

But could you be inadvertantly ‘snowploughing’ your kids?  

The term, coined in 2014 by David McCullough, an English teacher at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts with more than 30 years’ experience, is attributed to mums and dads who aggressively push their children to achieve, whatever the cost.

This includes clearing any obstacles that may stand in the way of their success.  

Could you be snowploughing your kids? The term can be attributed to parents who push their children to achieve, whatever the cost

Could you be snowploughing your kids? The term can be attributed to parents who push their children to achieve, whatever the cost

Could you be snowploughing your kids? The term can be attributed to parents who push their children to achieve, whatever the cost

Snowploughing can often begin at birth, with enthusiastic parents going out of their way to put their children’s names on waiting lists for elite preschools.

A snowplough parent will continue to ensure their precious little ones never feel obliged to do anything that might frustrate or unnerve them, reports The New York Times

This continues throughout their school career, with devoted mums and dads dashing into their kids school with forgotten homework and calling up teachers demanding their child receives special treatment.

Psychologist Madeline Levine, author of Teach Your Children Well: Why Values and Coping Skills Matter More Than Grades, Trophies or ‘Fat Envelopes’, described snowplough parents as those who have ‘cleared everything out of their kids’ way’. 

But doing so can be costly, with children growing up struggling to cope with basic tasks and commonplace problems life can throw up.

Snowplough parents often continue to push their kids throughout their school career and do anything in their power to remove obstacles from their path to success

Snowplough parents often continue to push their kids throughout their school career and do anything in their power to remove obstacles from their path to success

Snowplough parents often continue to push their kids throughout their school career and do anything in their power to remove obstacles from their path to success

Dr Levine told how she often sees first year university students who have had to return home from top educational institutions ‘because they don’t have the minimal kinds of adult skills that one needs to be in college’.    

She said: ‘Here are parents who have spent 18 years grooming their kids with what they perceive as advantages, but they’re not.’ 

According to Julie Lythcott-Haims, the former dean of freshmen at Stanford University and author of How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success, snowplough parents have failed to ‘prepare the kid for the road, instead of preparing the road for the kid’.

Devoted snowplough mums and dads will das into their kids school with forgotten homework and call up teachers demanding their child receives special treatment

Devoted snowplough mums and dads will das into their kids school with forgotten homework and call up teachers demanding their child receives special treatment

Devoted snowplough mums and dads will das into their kids school with forgotten homework and call up teachers demanding their child receives special treatment

By never letting their children make mistakes or face challenges, they end up having to continue to ‘parent’ their children even after they become adults.

Ms Lythcott-Haims recalled Stanford students who relied on their mums and dads to set up social events with people in their halls to initiate friendships. 

The same sort of parents would then call up their child’s employer to complain when an internship didn’t lead to a job.

By never letting their children make mistakes or face challenges, snowplough parents end up having to continue to 'parent' their children even after they become adults as they are ill-equipped to deal with life's basic tasks

By never letting their children make mistakes or face challenges, snowplough parents end up having to continue to 'parent' their children even after they become adults as they are ill-equipped to deal with life's basic tasks

By never letting their children make mistakes or face challenges, snowplough parents end up having to continue to ‘parent’ their children even after they become adults as they are ill-equipped to deal with life’s basic tasks

The trouble is, snowplough parenting is a tough habit to break. 

‘If you’re doing it in high school, you can’t stop at college,’ explained Ms Lythcott-Haims.

‘If you’re doing it in college, you can’t stop when it comes to the workplace. You have manufactured a role for yourself of always being there to handle things for your child.’

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