Introducing the snowplough parent: the latest hyper-protective parenting technique

Snowplough parents are the new protective parents on the block [Photo: Getty]
Snowplough parents are the new protective parents on the block [Photo: Getty]

Scooch over helicopter parents there’s a new parenting set at the school gate and they’re every bit as, er, active. Say hello to snowplough parents.

The newest embodiment of the hyper-protective parenting clan, snowplough mums and dads are described as those who try to clear the way for their children so they don’t encounter any slippery slopes on the path to adulthood.

Typical behaviours of the snowplough parents can include booking their adult child’s doctor appointments, dropping off forgotten homework/school lunches/violins and speaking to teachers if their child doesn’t like the group they’ve been put in.

“Helicopter parenting, the practice of hovering anxiously near one’s children, monitoring their every activity, is so 20th century,” Claire Cain Miller and Jonah Engel Bromwich wrote in The New York Times.

“Some affluent mothers and fathers now are more like snowploughs: 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.”

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While snowplough parents no doubt have all the best intentions and see themselves as prepping the path to a stress-less future, experts warn that the practice can leave young people lacking problem-solving skills and facing anxiety when presented with difficult situations they have to deal with without their parents help.

Snowplow parents are the new protective parents on the block [Photo: Getty]
Snowplow parents are the new protective parents on the block [Photo: Getty]

Madeline Levine, a psychologist and the author of Teach Your Children Well: Why Values and Coping Skills Matter More Than Grades, Trophies or ‘Fat Envelopes,’ believes clearing obstacles out of children’s way while they’re growing up can actually lead to more problems in adulthood.

“Here are parents who have spent 18 years grooming their kids with what they perceive as advantages, but they’re not,” Dr. Levine told NY Times.

Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success, told the publication that snowplough parenting can actually set children back.

“The point is to prepare the kid for the road, instead of preparing the road for the kid,” she said.

Read more: At what age should children be left home alone?

Snowplough parents join lawnmower parents making their mark in the pre-emptive parenting stakes.

The lawnmower parenting term was first coined last year by an anonymous writer on the We Are Teachers blog and is defined as “parents who go to whatever lengths necessary to prevent their child from having to face adversity, struggle or failure.

“Instead of preparing children for challenges, they mow obstacles down so kids won’t experience them in the first place.”

Like their snowploughing counterparts, lawnmower parents’ intentions are likely well meaning, but they also could actually be doing more harm than good.

“I think that most lawnmower parents come from a good place. But in raising children who have experienced minimal struggle, we are not creating a happier generation of kids,” the author who coined the phrase wrote.

“We are creating a generation that has no what idea what to do when they actually encounter struggle. A generation who panics or shuts down at the mere idea of failure.”

Suddenly, slummy parenting doesn’t seem so bad.