A new kind of nightmare 'snowplow' parent is calling their kids' employers to talk about issues their children are having at work

Dan Kitwood/Getty ImagesSnowplow parenting is the new helicopter parenting.
  • “Snowplow parents” are emerging as an even more hyper-intensive version of helicopter parenting, The New York Times reported.
  • These parents clear “any obstacles in their child’s path to success, so they don’t have to encounter failure, frustration or lost opportunities,” Claire Cain Miller and Jonah Engel Bromwich wrote in the Times.
  • They book their adult children haircuts and doctor’s appointments and even call their kids’ employers if they’re having issues at work.

Move over, helicopter parents.

“Snowplow parents” are the newest embodiment of a hyper-intensive parenting style that can include parents booking their adult children haircuts, texting their college kids to wake them up so they don’t sleep through a test, and even calling their kids’ employers.

“Helicopter parenting, the practice of hovering anxiously near one’s children, monitoring their every activity, is so 20th century,” Claire Cain Miller and Jonah Engel Bromwich wrote in The New York Times. “Some affluent mothers and fathers now are more like snowplows: machines chugging ahead, clearing any obstacles in their child’s path to success, so they don’t have to encounter failure, frustration or lost opportunities.”

Mother daughterMatt Cardy/Getty ImagesSnowplow parents try to make sure their kids never encounter failure.

Snowplow parents called out in the Times report include a mother who started a charity in her son’s name to try to boost his chances of being accepted to the college of his choice. One set of parents spent years helping their daughter avoid foods with sauce, which she didn’t like.


Read more:
Wealthy parents are paying up to $US1.5 million for consultants to help get their kids into college – and there are ways to do it that are completely legal

Once she got to college, she had problems with the food at her school cafeteria because it was all covered in sauce.

Snowplow parenting doesn’t end after college

A recent poll by The New York Times and Morning Consult found that three-quarters of parents of children between the ages of 18 and 28 had made their children appointments for doctor visits or haircuts, and 11% said they would call their kid’s boss if their child was having an issue at work, the Times reported.

Taken to the extreme, this type of parenting can be seen in the recent college admission scandal that saw dozens of affluent parents allegedly bribing standardised test score administrators and college coaches to ensure students would be admitted to elite universities, according to federal authorities.

Read more: Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin among dozens charged with participating in a scheme to get students into elite colleges

This criminal example of snowplow parenting made the headlines, but it usually takes a simpler form. As INSIDER’s Jacob Shamsian previously reported, wealthy parents try to get their children into top-tier colleges by making large donations to a school, such as paying for a building.

It’s not just a habit of the wealthy

Rich parents may have more time and money to devote to making sure their child doesn’t ever encounter failure, but it’s not only affluent parents practicing snowplow parenting.

This super-intensive parenting has become the most popular way to raise children, regardless of income, education, or race, as Business Insider’s Tanza Loudenback previously reported.

A recent Cornell survey of 3,642 American parents about parenting style found that most parents said “the most hands-on and expensive choices were best,” regardless of the parents’ education, income, or race, Cain Miller reported in The New York Times.

Experts say snowplow parenting doesn’t adequately prepare kids for adulthood

Madeline Levine, a psychologist and the author of “Teach Your Children Well: Why Values and Coping Skills Matter More Than Grades, Trophies or ‘Fat Envelopes,'” told the Times having all of their problems preemptively solved by their parents can be “disabling” for children down the road.

“Here are parents who have spent 18 years grooming their kids with what they perceive as advantages, but they’re not,” Dr. Levine said.

Julie Lythcott-Haims, the former dean of freshmen at Stanford and the author of “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success,” told the Times that snowplow parenting is a backwards approach.

“The point is to prepare the kid for the road, instead of preparing the road for the kid,” she said.

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