Snowplow Parenting

I’d never heard of the phrase “snowplow parenting” before today.

But it seems like the perfect description of the style of parenting that may have been at work with the college admissions scandal that made headlines this week.

The phrase was used in a New York Times story yesterday, noting that “snowplow parents” keep their children’s futures obstacle-free — even when it means crossing ethical and legal boundaries.

The story notes that helicopter parenting is so 20th century; 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 reporters note that parents charged in the college admissions scandal were acting as the ultimate snowplows: clearing the way for their children to get into college while shielding them from any of the difficulty, risk, and potential disappointment of the process.

Snowplow parents have it backward, Ms. Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen at Stanford, said: “The point is to prepare the kid for the road, instead of preparing the road for the kid.”

One of the problems of snowplowing (also know as lawnmowing or bulldozing) is that it is hard to stop once you start. It often continues from high school, to college, to the workplace.

One of the problems of snowplowing is that many young people end up lacking basic problem-solving skills and as a result, experience record rates of anxiety.

I was curious how old the term snowplow parenting was, and a Google search helped me find a story from 2014. In that story, the term ‘snowplough parents’ was defined as those parents who clear every obstacle from their child’s path while piling on the pressure to achieve.

I understand the desire to want to help our children to succeed and to be happy. But sometimes we all go a little further than we should, and if we are not careful, we could end up bribing an SAT test proctor

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