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Home / Bad parenting: Snowplowing or Spoiling?

So I was recently sitting in a radiology department lobby watching the Today Show when I noticed a phrase on the tv screen of an upcoming segment labeled “Snowplow parenting”. Since I had never heard of the term before and with loads of time on my hands in the waiting area I figured why not? Let’s see what they have to say. As I sat and watched I rolled my eyes in disbelief. In a nutshell, Snowplowing parents assume the day to day responsibilities and tasks that their offspring should be completing by themselves. Now I use the word “offspring” here because although some of the kids we are talking about are children, the age group defined in this piece is 18-28 years old. Some of these offspring are perfectly capable adults either in college or have left the nest completely. The parenting technique in question is where parents will do everything for their offspring from driving them to and from jobs, dental and medical appointments and even shopping. The parents complete scheduling tasks for these items and even set up hair cut appointments. Some parents go as far as actually researching projects for their offspring and even writing book reports and essay assignments. I sat bewildered. Then I noticed a hospital volunteer was watching the segment along with me. She was an older silver haired woman and she shook her head and frowned. She noticed me watching and I said to her “Can you believe this stuff?” She replied “Yes, I can. I retired from teaching a few years ago and while I was holding class I actually set time aside for students to do all of their assignments at school and did not allow them to work on these projects at home because too many parents were submitting their own work for their child”. I sat in disbelief.

Now because I am not a parent, and do not play one on tv, I can not refer to my extensive personal knowledge of how to raise a child. However, I am 1 of 8 children and have 18 nieces and nephews and have watched my siblings rear their little minions over the years and that is the well where I draw my knowledge from. Now I am not going to tell you that I had it rough when I was young and had to walk to school in a blizzard up hill both ways. But, it was tough. I will tell you a bit about my past and how my family was raised to give a better understanding of where my opinions come from. My parents raised 6 boys and 2 girls on 1 paycheck and their parenting skills in those days were quite different than they are for most parents today. My father raised his own little army of worker bees and when you were young you had chores!! “Are your chores done? Did you finish all of your chores?” were the questions that echoed through the halls of our home every day. Everyone had chores. From helping with laundry and dishes to yard work and painting. I have such fond memories (that’s sarcasm) of installing a new roof, linseed oiling the wooden gutters, digging ditches for drains and a leeching field. The point is that after schoolwork there were chores to do and nothing else was allowed until they were completed. My fathers favorite word was “No!!”. “Dad can I?…….NO!!”. Dad can we have a quarter?…..NO!!”. Keep in mind, we did not suffer as children. My mother and father were trying to raise healthy and smart kids and prepare them for the world ahead. We never went hungry, we always had clothes on our backs. We had a nice home and were never cold and had regular medical and dental check-ups. We were taught to be polite and courteous and respectful to others. Because we were a very popular family in town my father would send me and my brother out to shovel driveways and walkways for the nun and elderly in our community. In the summer it was mowing lawns and raking leaves.

The point I am trying to make here is simple. Because my father always said..”No!” we understood that if we wanted something for ourselves we had to earn it. If we missed the bus for school in the morning or going home in the afternoon…….”Don’t call me looking for a ride!” my mother would say. “Hitch hike!”. After I graduated I had a warehouse job 10 miles from my house and if it was pouring rain and I would ask my mother for a ride to work…”NO!. Buy a car!” she would say. Because my father sent me and my brother out to shovel and mow we started our own lawn care business while we were young and always had money in our pockets to buy candy and go to the movies with our friends. We stopped asking our parents for money. When my father got my mother a new car he made me buy her old one (or else). Guess what happened? We survived. We made it. We learned the value of a buck and how far it went. We learned that if we wanted something no one was going to give it to us. If you want to go from point A to point B buy a car and not worry about getting soaked in the rain. If you have a toothache go to the dentist and take care of it. Get your own health insurance to cover medical expenses. By doing tasks and projects for their offspring snow plowing parents are making things worse for their children in the long run. Children become more dependent and lose problem solving skills due to lack of experience and knowledge of how to complete normal, every day functions. If the recent College Admission Scandal is any evidence of how far some parents will go to Do for their children then I don’t know what is. Parents need to pay more attention to their offspring’s social lives especially in this day of social media and the internet. Children think everything is done for them and they do not need to do any of the “heavy lifting” because that’s what is going on with all of their friends. Ask any parent in a  middle class neighborhood who has children what they spent on their kid’s birthday party last year. My brother spent $5000!!. $5000!!. 1 kid!! And why?? Because that’s what their friends parents spent. When we were all young we got a cake and ice cream and 1 present. AND WE LOVED IT!!

In a time where parents want to do more for their children than their parents did for them we are getting lost with how we interpret “doing“. Trust me. It’s ok if you don’t give your kid everything. It’s ok to say “No” once in a while. It’s ok for young adults to fail once in a while. It’s how we all learn and develop. You certainly don’t want your offspring to become dependent upon the first person that gives them things or don’t have the confidence to go for that promotion at work because you are not there to do it for them. They need to figure some things out for themselves. And if they don’t then you can give them a little bit of motivation. When they sleep in and don’t go to classes because you did not call to wake them up and they fail you can show them the kitchen closet where the mop and broom are located and tell them they should start getting familiar with their soon to be tools of the trade. When your young adult drops out of college because they did not complete assignments or study for tests because you did not do it for them don’t sweat it. Take them out to their favorite fast food joint for a pick me up burger and fries and while you are there have them fill out an application. When you get home you can tell him or her that their new residence has new rules and regulations and that they must now adopt a new lifestyle of worship and abstinence from alcohol, dining out, tv , cable, internet, music, soap, parties, video games, washing machines, sleeping in and that the junior suite they used to live in for free when they were younger will now be available for them to rent for the low-low price of $750 per month + utilities!!

 

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