What is Snow Plow Parenting?

what is snow plow parenting

Snow plow parenting is a new term that has surfaced in light of the recent college admission scandals. In short, snow plow parenting clears the future of obstacles for your child so they can succeed. Snow plow parenting is controversial because it takes away the ability for a child to learn from failing and the experiences that come along with failing.

“I call it failing forward,” Dr. Argie Allen-Wilson, a family counselor, told the “Today” show. “When we fail, that gives you fuel in order to be motivated for not if, but when the next curveball comes.”

If the growing number of parenting monikers is making your head spin, here’s a quick glossary of the parenting “types” out there (MarketWatch):

Lawn mower Parent: Similar to the snowplow, this proactive parent “mows down” all of their child’s struggles, challenges and discomforts. The term went viral after a WeAreTeachers community member wrote a post last summer about the extreme lengths parents in her schools were going to appease their kids. Sometimes also referred to as “bulldozer parents” or “curling parents” (for those who follow curling).

Helicopter Parent: The “hovering” and overprotective parent falls into the snowplow or bulldoze camp, as he or she takes an excessive interest in their child’s life and tries to oversee every area — especially academics — from overhead. They have also been known to complain to a teacher about a bad grade, or an employer about their child’s workload, or to also actively waking their kids up on time by calling them even after they’ve left home.

Tiger Parent: This tough-love, authoritarian style was coined by Yale law professor and mother of two daughters Amy Chua in her 2011 book, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” and refers to raising a child in a tough, disciplinarian way that puts academics and extracurricular activities intended to give kids an advantage in academics ahead of leisure time.

Elephant Parent: The opposite of the tiger parent, this one is very nurturing and protective, particularly while the child is under age 5, and put encouragement and emotional security over academic success, as described by this 2014 article in the Atlantic.

Jellyfish Parent: These permissive parents have few rules and expectations, and often overindulge their children, according to a 2014 Psychology Today article.

Dolphin Parent: This “firm yet flexible” parent is a balance between the tiger and the jellyfish, according to the same Psychology Today article. While they enforce rules and academic expectations, they also nurture creativity and independence in their children, and let them learn by trial and error.

Free-Range Parent: The mother or father who lets their children walk to school, a friend’s house or a nearby playground alone, or who lets their child take public transportation by themselves, believing this builds independence and self-reliance in their kids. This controversial take has drawn backlash from those who fear this is dangerous or neglectful.

Regardless of what category you fall into, we can all relate to the fact that momming is hard AF and we’re all doing our best. If you had to pick a category, what type of mom would you say that you are?

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