The recent scandal about parents in the U.S. paying bribes to get their children into elite colleges has raised the issue of ‘snowplow parenting.’ Also called pampering, this refers to parents who will go to great lengths to remove obstacles, hurdles or challenges from the paths of their children. And counsellors say that it does more harm than good.
“I think there’s always been parents who have wanted to rescue their child and save them from life’s sufferings,” says Alyson Schafer, a family counsellor in Toronto. “But I would say in recent years, this style (of parenting) has really been on the increase…to alarming rates.”
Risks for mental health problems can increase
Schafer says this robs children of the chance to learn coping skills for the inevitable problems in life and to develop resilience and self-esteem. And she says, it can affect their world view.
“There’s a sense of entitlement that children have where they don’t expect that they have to contribute. (They think) ‘other people are supposed to lift my load or carry my load’ and they don’t like struggle at all.
In her practice, Schafer says she has seen that children who are pampered by parents are more likely to develop serious issues like depression, anxiety, isolation, “This is really a contributing factor to not doing well in terms of mental health function later in life.”
Schafer says parents should stop being afraid their children will fail and understand that it is important for them to learn from their mistakes.
Family counsellor Alyson Schafer explains why parents who pamper their children do more harm than good.Listen