Snowplow Parenting Explained

As parents, it is natural to not want our children to experience struggle. We tend to clear every obstacle in our children’s paths so they can get what they want and when they want it. It is instinctive to us as parents to prevent them from encountering failures, frustrations or lost opportunities.

When given the opportunity, who wouldn’t jump at the chance to make their children’s life easier? But, are we overdoing it? How can we be more supportive without actually robbing our children’s adulthood from them?

We heard a lot about being a ‘helicopter parent‘ who practices hovering around one’s children, monitoring every activity and rescuing them whenever trouble arises. We swear we wouldn’t want to be one. We want to protect without being overprotective and to be involved but avoid overinvolvement. This is when the term ‘snowplow parent’ arises.

What is snowplow parenting?

Snowplow parenting is a parenting style that constantly forces obstacles out of their children’s paths. These parents have their eyes on the child’s future success and ready to remove anyone or anything that stands in the way.

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

Who is a snowplow parent?

Snowplow parenting is not as aggressive as helicopter parenting and it involves much more letting-go. There are still a lot of “saving” actions involved in it.

Unlike helicopter parents, snowplow parents will let their children walk to school on their own because the research tells them it will contribute to their independence and self-esteem. They are OK with their children experiencing some failures at school or not being on the best group. However, they do put some effort into making their children’s lives a little easier, often in ways that they don’t notice.

What can we learn from snowplow parents?

It is definitely easier and happier for both children and parents when the snowplow parents successfully “removed” any failures and troubles from their children’s paths, at least for that very moment. The problem arises when the children have grown up and the parents are no longer able to be there with them, removing each and every struggle in their every day lives.

They need that resilient, that courage to take risks, those coping skills to handle failures and the maturity to make decisions on their own independently. If the road is always cleared for these children, snowplow parents are taking away those golden times when and where they can actually have the opportunity to hone their survival skills, to feel, confront and bounce back from those unpleasant feelings of sadness, frustration and being hurt.

In conclusion…

We are always trying our best as parents, no label fits any of us perfectly.

As painful as it is to admit, we will come to realize that we can’t actually remove every obstacle from every path that our children will go through. Consequences and failures are not always bad too, more often than not, they are actually blessings in disguise.

Allow the children to rough it out through the “snowstorms” to build life-coping skills they’ll need down the road to handle life. Of course on extremely “snowy” days, we can still pull out the snowplow and help move the things that block their ways 🙂


Capella Preschool Team


Read our other article here: Why, Mummy, Why? A Tribute to All Parenting Souls Out There