Today, my friend referred to herself and her husband as “snow plough” parents. I’d never heard the term before, she explained “snow plough” parents are super-protective of their children, they very quickly and effectively “clear all paths” of any obstacles, before their offspring. For example: Not wanting little Adam to suffer unnecessary challenges that might cause anxiety or worry, he’s allowed not to attend sports day. Letters are written to school, asking for little Eve to be excused from doing her solo, she’s self-conscious and anxious.
I get it. Where there’s extreme anxiety this is absolutely the right action to take. Our children shouldn’t be so overwrought that it affects their normal functioning, sleep, or appetite. We worry that if exposed to excesses of anxiety our young people might take detrimental, even fatal action to escape unfamiliar, overwhelming feelings.
The questions I’m left with are:
- Have we crossed some invisible line?
- Are we, in fact, doing our children a major dis-service, in not allowing them to experience and overcome normal levels of fear and anxiety?
Are our much loved children never to ‘feel’ the glow of achievement, the sensation of having challenged and stretched themselves to overcome the normal anxiety of a new situation and succeed in their task. Are we happy for them to go into their world, unprepared to cope with being out of their comfort zone, where we all experience normal levels of social and professional anxiety. We’ve learned how to manage this dis-ease, what will our children do?
Is it possible to go through life without worry, anxiety, or occasionally feeling unsettled? I don’t think so, unless you’re Sleeping Beauty! Does ‘Snow Plough” parenting set up our youth to avoid all discomfort. If this is the new norm, what message are we sending, if our children never have to do anything that’s unsettling or uncomfortable?
Tell me, am I reading too much into this?
Daily care of our emotional/mental health is as necessary as daily care of our physical health; GP’s expect to hear about both.
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