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What is snowplow parenting?

By Emma Davies


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This isn’t one you may have heard of before and honestly, the name is very bizarre at first glance. But snowplow parenting is a unique style for some parents that some may find controversial. But what actually is the snowplow parenting style? You may have heard of it as bulldozer parenting before but it simply means getting rid of any obstacle that could hurt your child so that they don’t go through any pain or failure.

Snowplow Parenting

It basically does what it says on the tin: snowplowing removes snow, snowplow parents remove obstacles – simple. Many don’t agree with it and claim that it is “robbing their children of adulthood” but we’ve got the ins and outs to tell you how to be a snowplow parent as well as any effects it could have on your child, both good and bad, to help you navigate your parenting journey. Parenting is really difficult and there’s no doubt about that but you’ve got this and it takes time.

Examples of Snowplow Parenting Style

Each style of parenting is different and every family and parent is unique too and that’s okay. Some may disagree with the snowplow parenting style and that’s okay but here are some examples of what you may find with a snowplow parent.

  • Staying up until the early hours of the morning to finish your kid’s school project whilst they’re asleep in bed – This is a classic example of snowplow parenting as your child isn’t facing the consequences of not completing their work and so you end up doing it. This is of course getting rid of any failure or embarrassment that they may face in school but it isn’t teaching them a lesson at all and is getting rid of their problems.
  • Sacrificing your own time to do things for your kid – Of course, there are times when you will sacrifice big things for your kid because that’s what a lot of parenting is. But, if you’re leaving work every lunchtime because your child has forgotten their lunchbox or you’re driving back and forth to their school most days because they forgot a letter at home then they’re not being taught anything. Obviously, it’s vital that you’re there for your child when they make mistakes but if you’re sacrificing your own personal time or work time often then you may be a snowplow parent.
  • Feeling the need to call your child’s teacher if they get less than an A – It’s true that we all feel a bit disappointed when our kids get lower than we think they deserve but naturally we will be slightly biased because they’re our kids. But, if you find yourself being ready to call up the teacher or argue with the teacher over your kid’s grade then this is a good example of snow plowing parents.
  • If your child is an adult, you may find yourself constantly giving them money – Everyone wants to help their kid and if you can help them financially when they’re struggling then that’s great but if you’re constantly providing them with money to get them out of debt or sticky situations, not only is it draining your own bank account but it’s also not teaching your kid any lessons because you’re always providing.

Signs of Snowplow Parenting

Just like any other style of parenting, there are lots of signs that may show that you’re a snowplow mom or dad. Here’s a list to help get your head around it.

  • Mediating conflict before it happens.
  • Doing everything for your child like packing their bag for school or doing most of a school project.
  • Hardly ever say no to your kid.
  • Instantly assume that your child is perfect and can’t do anything wrong.
  • You may not let your child take part in things that they may not be good at.

Effects of Snowplow Parents

The impacts of snowplow parenting on your kids can actually be quite bad and some argue that it’s because they don’t get a real experience of the world. As you’re constantly cleaning up their life and protecting them from any failure or pain. Believe it or not, it can actually have some pretty negative effects on your child which is never good. So, in the short term, you may feel like you’re doing the right thing but it’s important to consider the more long term effects of being a bulldozing parent.

  • Your child may not be able to deal with the word “no” – This is never good in the real world and having a child who can’t deal with the word “no” could cause some problems. This is because your snow plow kid is so used to not having any obstacles in their life, they could feel quite unsettled when they hear no so be mindful of this.
  • Low self confidence – Unfortunately, this could be quite a big effect of snow plow parents because it focuses more on the child’s weaknesses. Snowplow parenting also doesn’t really set your kid up for the world. So when they are faced with obstacles in the future they may struggle and as a result, feel quite low about themselves.
  • Easy frustration – Having a child that is easily frustrated is not fun in the slightest and snowplow parenting has been known to lead to this. This will result in them giving up on things a lot quicker and having an immense sense of self defeat as a result.
  • Increased anxiety – You may also find that your child is a lot more anxious than the other children that they’re around in school and other activities. This is partly due to the fact that they’re not used to facing challenges or difficult situations and so their problem solving skills aren’t as sufficient as other children’s.

Snowplow Parents vs Helicopter Parents

You may have heard of helicopter parents and you may be wondering if they’re the same thing as snowplow parents or if they share similar ideals.

Just like a helicopter, helicopter parents tend to hover a lot and do so very close to their children to make sure they’re a key part of every single event in their life. They’ll always be there in case their child needs them. But, snowplow parents try to clear obstacles in their child’s life to ensure that they cruise through life.


Are You A Snow Plow Parent?

To be honest, you already know the answer to this. Even if you are not a full snowplow parent then most of us on occasion are one. No parent wants to see their kid struggle to get a task done but it’s an important part of growing up and learning responsibility.

Remember that if you teach them that everything will be handed to them then they are going to grow up expecting that through their adult life. While if you teach them that they have to work for what they want but that you are always there to support them they will thrive as adults who have a solid work ethic.

About Emma Davies

Emma Davies is a freelance writer that specializes parenting and animal topics. With over 20 years experience as a parent there are very few topics that faze her.

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