Are you a ‘snowplough parent’?

There’s a new parenting style on the block and, reminiscent of the current winter freeze, it’s been dubbed ‘snowplough parenting’. So, take a second to imagine the function of a snowplough; it pushes now out of the way so that we may have a clear path to walk, right? Applying the analogy, a snowplough parent clears obstacles enabling their children to have an ‘easy walk’.

snowplough parent

Parents who snow plough Life’s obstacles for their children have been called ‘over protective’ but, honestly, in this day and age is there such a thing? Experts definitely think so.

David McCullough, a teacher for 30 years and author of You Are Not Special, claims that the micromanagement style of parenting that articulates a snowplough way of doing things could be harmful to kids by nurturing a temperament enveloped in anxiety, dependency and narcissism. Clarissa Farr, headmistress of St Paul’s girls’ school in London, backs McCullough up, saying that snowplough parents are so over-protective of their offspring that the children end up unable to deal with failure.

Pretty hard-core.

Maybe true? I guess the question is this: how do children learn to cope with life if they’re never given the opportunity to acquire the skills needed to manage its hardships. The way a child will learn to deal with failure, for example, is through experience; that it’s not the end of the world, you pick yourself up after and try again. That sense of tenacity is garnered through practice. And the same principle applies to all of Life’s negative emotions: fear, anger and all the rest of it.

One of the toughest jobs of any parent is to maintain a sense of balance, in all areas of a child’s life. Applied to ‘snowplough parenting’; perhaps its essential flaw lies in its lack of balance. We must preserve the integrity and innocence of our children, by all means, but we also need to allow them the space to make mistakes and learn from them. Balance.

It is, however, always worth mentioning that most of the parenting styles talked about in books and in the media (helicopter parenting, attachment parenting, tiger mothering, outsourced parenting etc.) are reductive in description. Most parents fall somewhere in between – the place that makes the most sense.

Sources: “Parenting mumbo-jumbo: decoded” ( and – “’Snowplough’ parents risk children unable to cope with failure, says head” (