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What is Snowplough Parenting And Should You Be Worried?

Snowplough Parenting

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By Jim

Jim Coulson is a Yorkshire content writer, video maker and radio presenter who blogs under the guise of Bewildered Dad.

Published on 12/05/2019

There is nothing the media likes to do more than tell us that we are parenting incorrectly.

They take any opportunity to ridicule us for bringing up a generation of snowflakes and to suggest we are paying our kids too much attention or displaying too much love. The term ‘millennials’ is used as shorthand for an entitled generation who love avocado more than hard graft. But there’s no real evidence that this is true.

The fact is that every generation feels the next has things easier than them. They romanticise the worst bits of their own youth and make fun of the easiest bits of their descendents’ formative years. But changing times bring new challenges, the like of which today’s kids will use as a stick with which to beat their children (metaphorically).

The latest example of how we are ruining the next generation is so-called Snowplough Parenting (Snowplow Parenting if you’re American or just enjoy spelling things incorrectly). Here’s what Snowplough Parenting involves.

Definition of Snowplough Parenting

The definition of Snowplough Parenting is the willingness to to chug ahead of your child, clearing all obstacles from their path to success so they don’t have to encounter disappointment or failure.

Snowplough Parenting

The most extreme example of Snowplough Parenting in recent times is the case of a number of parents, including actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, who are accused of offering bribes to help their children win places at prestigious colleges.

If it turns out these accusations are true then that is clearly a terrible thing to have done, but it is most certainly not a modern phenomenon. Rich parents paying for privileges for their kids is a practice as old as time itself. If you want any proof, just take a look at a large portion of the inhabitants of the House of Commons.

One of the newspapers sneering at Snowplough Parenting is The Sun. This is a newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, whose former CEO is Murdoch’s son James and who bought out ailing TV production company Shine in 2011, making its owner a cool £153 million in the process. Shine’s owner? Elisabeth Murdoch – James’ sister and Rupert’s daughter.

Snowplough Parenting for Normal People

This suggests that Snowplough Parenting is fine for the ultra-rich, but us normal people shouldn’t get ideas above our station. Thankfully, the New York Times and Morning Consult conducted a survey to tell us what we lowlives are doing wrong as parents.    

Using a sample size of 1,508 18 to 28-year-olds and 1,136 parents of 18 to 28-year-olds to represent the entirety of the United States (population 327 million), they made a range of ‘shock discoveries’.

One of the headlines was that around three-quarters of parents said they reminded their adult children of deadlines they needed to meet, including for schoolwork. You should note that it doesn’t say that the 18 to 28-year-olds asked them to remind them or would have forgotten, just that the parents reminded them. The implication in the report is that the adult children needed the reminder, but that was never actually tested. My wife and I remind each other of deadlines all the time. It’s not that we don’t trust each other to remember, it’s more a helpful nudge, just in case.

Three-quarters also said that they had made appointments on behalf of their adult children. They take pains to state ‘including doctors’ appointments’, as if that demonstrated proof that young adults today are incapable of looking after themselves. However, once again, it doesn’t mean that 74% of parents make doctors’ appointments for their 18 to 28-year-olds, it merely insinuates it to turn this into a sensational story. They know that other press outlets will jump on that stat and misrepresent it to encourage clicks.

Snowplough Parenting - Doctors' Appointments

Away from those stats, there really isn’t anything shocking at all. 42% offered their young adults advice on relationships. Surely the fact that parents and kids can speak openly about these things is great, right? 22% helped with studying for a test – why wouldn’t you want to help your kids learn? If 22% had tried to secretly take the test for their children, that would be a problem. But a fifth of parents lending a hand to help their kids better themselves seems somewhat on the low side to me. It certainly doesn’t sound like overprotective parenting.

My favourite statistic from the report is that 14% of parents told their adult children what job to pursue. Only 14%? Come on! That isn’t Snowplough Parenting, that is slack parenting on behalf of the 86% of parents who missed the age-old opportunity to smugly assume that they know better than their children as to what will bring them a fulfilling career.

Should We Worry About Snowplough Parenting?

Rather than some kind of mass panic about being seen to be too overprotective, you have to use common sense. If you are bribing educational establishments, you are probably on the wrong track. If you are a billionaire, you will undoubtedly find a way to set your kids up for life. If your 28-year-old genuinely can’t make an appointment for themself or needs reminding about deadlines then maybe you need to get them help. Or a diary. Or both.

If you are doing all you can to help them learn and grow, whilst offering love, a shoulder to cry on and a strong support network, then you’re golden. Don’t let the press shame you into changing simply because they trade in two-dimensional cliches and mock outrage. Parent how you want to parent.

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