Helicopter parents (those who hover and micro-manage out of fear) have been taking a lot of heat over the past few years, but their hovering tendencies have nothing on the newly-named parenting label that’s really getting the cold shoulder from onlookers today. It’s called “snowplow parenting” - a parenting style that is resulting in everything from parents calling employers on behalf of their adult children, to parents risking life in prison to provide the “perfect life” for their kids.
Scrolling through my Twitter feed last month, I came across a stunning synopsis shared by someone who I follow, who had witnessed some perplexing behaviour in an office space in which she worked.
In a conversation between what appeared to be an editor and a writer, a debate arose over the spelling of the word “hamster.” The writer, upon being corrected for spelling it “hampster” initiated a heated argument with her boss, insisting that if she wanted to spell the word with a “p” her boss had no right to correct her.
While the editor calmly explained that the correct spelling of the word (according to the dictionary), the writer persisted.
Dumbfounded, the witness watched on as the employee - in a fit of rage - then called her mom and put her on speaker phone. In a teary tone, she asked her mom how she should bring this up with her boss’ boss, saying, “I mean, I always spell hamster with a P, she has no right to criticize me.”
When the girl who witnessed this scene told a colleague of hers what she had seen, he relayed a story to her about a time when he gave an early 20-something feedback on a writing assignment. The young man quit the next day and had his parents call to tell him what a terrible boss he was for “correcting work that didn’t need correcting.”
Unfortunately, I’ve been on the receiving end of this type of behaviour. On more than one occasion, I’ve received calls from the parents of candidates who were coming in for a job interview. Young adults who were aspiring employees had their parents call on their behalf to reschedule, provide excuses for arriving late, or cancel the interview altogether.
Not the most impressive way to get a grown-up gig.
According to a recent article in Today’s Parent, a “snowplow parent” is defined as a person who constantly forces obstacles out of their kids’ paths. They have their eye on the future success of their child, and anyone or anything that stands in their way has to be removed. There is a sense of entitlement to snowplowers: They blame the school when things go wrong and never accept anything less than first place for their child.”
Most parents say they would do anything for their children, but snowplow parents tend to take things a little too far.
For example, in the case of celebrities like Lori Loughlin (who played Aunt Becky on Full House), and the other wealthy parents who were called out for using bribery to cheat the competitive college admissions process at the University of Southern California this year. While they were doing what they could to get their children ahead, their actions led to potential charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering - each charge punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Experts fear that children of snowplow parents won’t be able to handle failure or solve problems independently. Kids of snowplow parents may quit something instead of settling for second best. While you may want to do anything for your child, remember that your child also needs to learn how to do things for themselves - especially if your actions might land you behind bars.
Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, writer, editor, and marketing consultant. Find her on Twitter @biancabujan and Instagram @bitsofbee.