“Snowplow Parenting” Can Be Harmful to Children

December 2, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. narcissist /ˈnɑr sə sɪst/ (n.) – a person who is absorbed in his own life and interests without caring about others
Example: I can’t stand talking to a narcissist.

2. intensive /ɪnˈtɛn sɪv/ (adj.) – referring to a lot of training and teaching in a short span of time
Example: Many students attended the two-week intensive math training.

3. go to great lengths /ˈgoʊ ˈgreɪt ˈlɛŋθs/ (idiom) – to exert extreme effort to achieve something
Example: His parents went to great lengths to provide his educational needs.

4. boost /bust/ (v.) – to help something increase or improve
Example: The teacher’s good words boost the confidence of his students.

5. pursue /pərˈsu/ (v.) – to try to achieve something
Example: My parents encouraged me to pursue my dreams.


Read the text below.
A new type of parenting termed as “snowplow parenting” can cause children to become anxious, dependent, and narcissist. 

Experts define snowplow parents as those who clear their children’s path of every obstacle while pressuring them to achieve things. As a result, children become terrified of failure and are turned into “achievement machines,” warned David McCullough [muh-KUHL-uh] a teacher and the author of the book “You are Not Special.”

Some parents in the United States and United Kingdom pressure their children to get into the top 30-50 colleges. In order to achieve this, the parents enroll their children in after-school classes and intensive music lessons. The parents also encourage their children to win in team sports competitions. They even go to greater lengths to do their children’s homework. In the United Kingdom and in the United States, children have private tutors to boost their grades. 

To show a clear example of snowplow parenting, McCullough mentioned in his book an account of a child who was made to travel a 120-mile bus journey for piano lessons. When this child had spelling mistakes, he said that his mother must have missed those words.

McCullough also adds that one in ten students suffers from mental health problems while others completely depend on their parents or the army of tutors.

Instead of being overprotective, parents are advised to give their children free rein, allowing them to pursue their own passions and curiosities without interfering with them in every step. McCullough said that it is alright if children make mistakes and take unusual paths in life. He added that parents should learn how to take a step back.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Why do you think the number of snowplow parents is increasing these days? Explain your answer.
·         How can snowplow parents learn to take a step back from their children’s choices?

Discussion B

·         In general, what do parents in your country pressure their children to do?
·         What are the good and bad effects of those pressures? 

December 2, 2014