Snowplow Parenting – The latest controversial parenting technique

Snowplow parenting = bad!Credit...Illustration by The New York Times

All my life, until recently, I knew that snowplow was a kind of machine, not a parenting type. When I became a mother and started reading different parenting journals, the first time I heard of a parenting metaphor was the helicopter parent.  Since then, I came across many parenting terms like tiger moms, free-range parenting, elephant parent, jellyfish parent, dolphin parent, etc. But snowplow parenting is the newest addition to the list.

The first appearance of Snowplow Parenting

Recently, while reading some online articles on parenting, I came across this phrase ‘Snowplow Parenting’. I never heard of this term before and found it quite interesting. So, I thought to explore it a little further. It seems the phrase has been floating around the internet for years but it came into fame when writers like Claire Cain Miller and Jonah Engel Bromwichba used it in a recent New York Times story referring to some college admission scandal. Where a set of very rich parents were acting as the ultimate snowplow: clearing the way for their children to get admission in top institutions. They were shielding their children from any sort of difficulty, risk, and potential disappointment of the process

Snowplow Parenting
Illustration by Jay Holladay

According to writers duo, snowplow parents are much like the machines keep going ahead removing all the obstacles from their children’s way of success; so, they don’t have to struggle or face any failure, frustration, or loss opportunities.

Some affluent mothers and fathers now are more like snowplows: 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.

The New York Times

Digging deep into Snowplow Parenting

As I keep on exploring the phrase, I understand that snowplow parents create some serious developmental issues in their children. For example,

  • Kids, whose parents are highly directive, face trouble in dealing with frustrations, anxiety, and stress of life.
  • As this set of parents tends to do everything for their children, they don’t get enough opportunity to develop their communication, social, critical thinking, decision making, and problem-solving skills.
  • These children suffer from a lack of confidence, self-efficacy, and self-esteem.

Am I a snowplow parent 🤔 – symptoms to look for?

As mine is only 3 (2.9 years more precisely) years old, I can say that I don’t do things for her, at least which I think at her age she can try by herself.  I firmly believe in providing age-appropriate situations to develop 21st-century life skills in children instead of hand-holding them through the ups and downs of life. If they develop certain skills, they will be able to solve problems in life and make the right choice.

So, I can proudly say that I am not a snowplow parent.

My take away.

  • We need to let our kids explore and fail so that they can develop trust in their abilities and overcome them.
  • Sometimes we need to be firm with our kids and say ‘no’ to them. This will help them to feel their feelings.
  • We should appreciate their efforts without bothering about the outcome.
  • They should be given enough opportunities to develop certain 21st-century skills.

I think most of the parents will agree with me that parenting is the toughest job in this world. As a parent of a 3-year-old, I always try my best to do my bit in the best possible way. And I am not ashamed to share that I often ask for parenting tips from fellow mothers (online or offline). I always wanted to be an effective parent but never knew how to become one. So, I ask for help, I read a lot and sometimes I feel let it be… I am quite effective as a mother in my way. So be happy and just be the guide to those little minds; and see them grow into a happy, confident, and independent human being.

Share ideas, spread love 💖

Sarbani D.

Find my previous post here.

One Thought to “Snowplow Parenting – The latest controversial parenting technique”

  1. It is really important to make sure that our next generation is strong enough to handle the hardships of life. The only way to inculcate that braveness in our children is to let them free and face a few difficulties. That would be like hands-on experience for them. A nice write-up, a very important matter of discussion.

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