All good parents would want to make sure that their children become successful, but at a certain level, their actions can harm the child’s life. Throughout the adolescent years, parents would have control over what children do and how they live. This might continue even after the child has entered work or gone off to college, as over-engaged parents don’t back off easily even after the kid leaves the nest. This parenting is called snowplow parenting, meaning the parent clearing off the obstacles.
What is Snowplow Parenting?
It is a type of parenting that involves removing problems and obstacles from the children’s path instead of teaching them how to do it themselves. This causes adult children to be irresponsible, making it difficult and hard for them to face the challenges of being an adult, like paying bills, finding and going to jobs, or dealing with a professional relationship.
A difference between snowplow parent and helicopter parent is that a helicopter parent may constantly watch the children do their homework and make sure it is done to perfection, while a snowplow parent will literally do the kids’ work for them.
Signs That You Are a Snowplow Parent
Here are some common signs that show that you are a snowplow mom or dad:
1. Scheduling Their Medical Appointments
Making appointments for any medical reason can be tedious but every child has to master this skill. If your child has left the nest but still depends on you or your partner to make appointments for them then the child is a victim to this type of parenting.
2. Regularly Paying Their Expenses
Funding the children’s lifestyles automatically can keep them from getting a proper understanding of budgets, which will lead to bad management of personal finances. Though exceptions like injuries and illnesses are normal, parents should never directly fund every other thing in their kid’s life.
3. Writing the Child’s Job Materials
Completing job applications are never easy and while every parent would want their children to succeed, it is never good to take over the kid’s job and complete all their work for them.
4. Completing Their Paperwork
Paperwork is often frustrating and boring but if you are still doing this task for your adult child then they are missing a very important part of becoming an actual adult.
5. Doing Their Chores
It is not uncommon for children studying in colleges to drop off their laundry at home but if these happen even after they finish college, it is a problem. Though cleaning and running errands can be boring, it is a part of becoming an adult. When children do not learn to manage their time and clean up after themselves, they will always be dependent on their parents.
6. Giving Too Much Career Advice
One of the best examples of snowplow parenting involves them giving their children excessive career guidance. Deciding on a career option is an important part of becoming an adult but if parents do it for their children, kids will not become an adult.
Effects of Snowplow Parenting Technique on Kids
Due to snowplow, children can have the following effects:
1. Poor Problem-Solving Skills
When life is a marathon, snowplow parenting is like being a sprinter. A snowplow parent may be successful at pushing their child to get into a competitive soccer team or take a lead part in a school play or may even help them get into a popular university. However, this might reduce their problem-solving skills and not allow them to follow their own interests.
2. Trouble Dealing With Frustration
Children who have snowplow parents are less comfortable in frustrating situations. Children who cannot handle frustration will always have trouble learning something new.
3. Increased Anxiety
When decisions based on anxiety are made by parents, they may act in ways that do not help the children manage frightening and challenging situations, increase resiliency, and develop coping skills.
4. Lack of Self-Efficacy
Children might feel a lack of self-efficacy when parents do not allow them to deal with the consequences of their actions. They will not realize that their actions might have a positive effect and are less likely to act.
Cons of Snowplow Parenting
Giving children every opportunity means investing a lot of time. Snowplow parents have very little time for themselves as their free time will be spent driving the kids to various appointments. Over-scheduled children will have over-scheduled parents and nobody in the family would have time to play.
Raising a child can be expensive especially when you are a snowplow parent. A snowplow parent is always planning on giving children advantages by clearing paths, and this will mean that the parent will have to write checks and spend extra money for private instructors, coaches, or tutors.
Children never really learn failure if the parents clear away all the obstacles. Though failure is an unpleasant way for people to learn, it is a very crucial part of life that helps people grow.
If parents are breaking, bending, or disregarding the rules, they are simply harming their children. It is also unfair to parents who play it straight. This is deeply felt during college admissions. The main problem is that a white kid who never earned a spot in the college will never be questioned. Meanwhile, children of colour who deserves a place in the college by earning their spot are said to have been given an affirmative action handout though they have worked very hard to get this far. These parents are more likely to take advantage of systemic racism to help their cause.
Being a snowplow parent is never about love. The terrible truth about this type of parenting is that love is the cover for anxiety they feel raising their children in a society that is highly competitive. The reasons for this include inequality in income, blocking paths to success for children whose parents go straight.
How Can You Avoid Being a Snowplow Parent
Here are a few tips on raising a self-sufficient kid:
1. Focus on Goals That are Long-Term
A great way to avoid being a snowplow parent is to concentrate on long-term goals and not short-term ones.
2. Control Your Anxiety
It is important for parents to manage their own anxiety. Parents are more likely to raise independent children when they allow their values to guide them.
3. Be a Parent With a “Big-Picture”
Kids must be prepared for adulthood by giving them an opportunity to solve problems and think independently. When a child comes to you with a problem, instead of solving it for them, ask them how they intend to solve the problem and what should they be doing differently the next time. Offer your own suggestions but always respect the kid’s solution.
Lessons to Learn from Snowplow Parents
1. Let the Kids Fail so That They Will Learn to Overcome
It is never easy for a parent to see their kids disappointed, sad, or hurt when a decision they made was not right but always remind them that consequences are gifts in disguise. If parents always clear all their obstacles, kids will never have an opportunity to learn from the mistakes they make.
2. Learn to Say “No” to Children and Let Them Feel Their Feelings
Parents never find it easy to tell a crying child “no” when they know that a “yes” will make them happy. But sometimes, parents should let children feel their emotions even though they feel uncomfortable. If that bubble wrap is never taken off, children will not be able to manage inconveniences of life.
3. Efforts Made by the Child Must be Praised as Much as the Result
Parents should teach children that trying is also important. When children do hard things, parents need to praise their efforts even though they did not succeed. This helps the child grow and realize that they can improve by working harder and practising. This will increase confidence levels and will help them get through tough times.
4. Don’t Stop Yourself from Giving Children Increasing Levels of Responsibility
When it comes to small household chores like loading the dishwasher or making the bed, parents might always feel like doing it themselves is more efficient than letting their children do, but parents will have to let them try. Little children are also capable of taking small responsibilities and it becomes easier for them when they are older.
5. Make the Kids Think Proactively
Parents should always train children to be thinking about what they need to do and not just tell them to do something. Instead of simply asking questions like “Is your bag packed?”, “did you take your lunch?” ask them “what is the next thing you should be doing to get ready for school?”. The goal is to help them focus on the list every morning until they internalize it and start managing it themselves.
The world might seem tough for children these days, tempting you to try and make things easier for them. However, they should be given opportunities to overcome those problems themselves. A child should have a life of their own and when parents interfere, they are interfering with the child’s growth.