We’ve heard for years about Helicopter parents. You know, those parents that do a child’s science project at school, take control of every PTA meeting, take care of every fundraiser with no effort from the child. However, an increasing trend in the US is the ‘Snowplow Parent’, parents who continue to hover over their child way into college and beyond.
This article on the Boston Globe explains what a snowplow parent consists of, with many frightening-but-true examples. These are just a few snippets of what the article describes as snowplow parents:
Astrid Franco, 21, of Framingham, lived away from home her first two years at UMass Boston and got constant calls and messages from her parents. “I’d be out with friends and I’d get a text from my mom, ‘What are you doing?’ With time, I stopped answering and they wondered why. I felt it was being nosy,” says Franco, now a senior.
In one extreme case of parental over-involvement, a college senior in December 2012 won a protective order against her parents for stalking and harassing her. Aubrey Ireland, 21, told a Cincinnati judge that her parents often drove 600 miles from their Kansas home to the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, unannounced, to meet with college officials, and falsely accused her of promiscuity, drug use, and mental problems.
Her parents, Julie and David Ireland, admitted in court that they installed monitoring software on their daughter’s laptop and cellphone. But they said they had her best interests at heart. “She’s an only child who was catered to all her life by loving parents,” her mother told the judge.
“We see snowplow parents when they come in with their son or daughter to apply for a job,” says Green, whose family owns several restaurants, including West on Centre in West Roxbury. “They say things like, ‘I’m here with my son, Mark, to apply for a bus boy position.’ Mark is standing there not saying a word. We’re thinking if Mark can’t talk to us, how can he interact with our staff and customers?”
The truth is, in my time in college (and working in a college), I’ve seen this type of behavior firsthand. People joke about the fact that elementary school teachers are now being harassed for handing out low grades to students, but the consequences of such behavior are starting to see a societal impact. This new generation of sheltered, over-protected kids are now entering college, and soon, the real world. Many of these students are unprepared to deal with the challenges that life will throw at them, because their parents have always taken care of it for them.
Once these students leave college, one of two things are going to happen: either their parents are going to continue to do everything for them (such as applying for jobs with them as mentioned in the above example) and then wondering why no one will hire them, or they will finally let them go, once again wondering why their grown up children can’t fend for themselves when buying a house, raising a family, or managing a budget.
What are your experiences with snowplow parents, either as a college student or bystander? Are you friends with one? What can we do to solve this type of problem? Let us know in the comments.