How ‘snowplow parenting’ can affect your children

Do you clear any obstacle to your children’s success? You could be doing more harm than good

A look at the pitfalls of 'snowplow parenting'
A look at the pitfalls of 'snowplow parenting'

DETROIT – Many people are familiar with the concept of helicopter parents -- parents that hover too closely over their children.

A new parenting style has recently emerged. Experts are calling it snowplowing.

Snowplowing refers to parents who will do anything and everything to remove any and all obstacles for their children rather than prepare the child to overcome obstacles themselves.

Patrick Ward is a new college freshman at the University of Vermont. Getting accepted into the school was all his doing and in an age of anxious parenting, that’s a big deal.

“I know a lot of friends whose parents were watching their every move,” Ward said.

That’s one form of snowplowing. The parents are so focused on their children succeeding that they remove any obstacles in their path, even eliminating any hard decisions their child has to make by making it themselves. The extreme version of it made recent headlines with the college admission scandal in 2019.

“Snowplow parenting really just controls everything and it often comes from a place of fear,” said Ana Homayoun, an educational consultant with Green Ivy Educational Consulting.

Ward’s parents felt they could have been “more snowplow than not” in their parenting style. That’s why they approached Homayoun, who shows students how to achieve success on their own.

“Our focus is really helping students identify what are their own goals for themselves -- personally and academically,” Homayoun said. "How are their daily habits moving them towards those goals or away from those goals?”

The hard work has paid off. Ward received a nearly perfect score on his ACT test.

“When you have high expectations and high belief in your child, they rise up to those expectations,” Homayoun said.

While snowplowing should be avoided, she urges parents to be aware of their children’s daily habits to be sure they are in line with their goals. For instance, by being distracted by a phone or computer, homework assignments will take longer than they should. Keeping them focused by limiting their usage online can actually give teens more free time in the long run.

For more information, visit Green Ivy Educational Consulting’s official website here.

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