Parental Queries

Snow Plow Parents vs Helicopter Parents

By Bibek Pandey | March 7, 2023 10:03 AM

A child uses color pens to paint while his parent observes his works
A child uses color pens to paint while his parent observes his works ( Source : freepik )

Snow plow parents vs Helicopter parents is discussed here as both are overprotective folks. The two parenting styles are infamous for being highly controlling.

Here are ways to identify if you are one among them and how to avoid it.

Snowplow parenting is a situation where parents remove any obstacles that lie in the way of their children.

Snowplow parents do not want their children to face or experience any sort of discomfort moving ahead in life.

They will do everything in their power to remove obstacles from their children's path in order to ensure their success. They will not let anything stand in the way of their kids and will go to any length to remove it.

Similarly, Helicopter parenting is a style of upbringing when parents are excessively involved in their children's life. In such situations, parents knowingly or unknowingly tend to become overprotective of their kids.

Helicopter parents take control of their children's lives to a great extent just to ensure they are doing things right. These over-involved parents pay close attention to their children's activities and become aware of any sort of discomfort for their kids.

Snowplow and Helicopter parenting are both intrusive practices of parenting style that can damage your relationship with the kids. You can follow these 8 Ways to Strengthen a Parent-Child Relationship.

Differences Between Snow Plow and Helicopter Parents

Snow Plow parents vs Helicopter parents with examples, differences and similarities are explained here.

Lets start with the differences between these parenting techniques first. 

1. Snowplow Parents Have A Sense Of Entitlement

There is a sense of entitlement in the snowplow parents. They want to be the ones to take the credit for correcting the path of their children. They have a predetermined disposition that their children can do no wrong.

In case a child gets a bad grade on the exam, then the first thing Snowplower do is blame the teacher or the school as a whole. The parents have such a strong faith in the ability of their child that they don't want to consider any sign of weakness.

In the parents' eyes, their children are talented and capable but the school and teachers are incompetent if they get bad grades in school. These parents have a sense of pride that they are the only ones helping their child in every step of life.

2. Snowplow Parents Will Do The Kids Work For Them

Snowplow parents will get involved in their kid's life in any way possible. This may include doing the kid's homework or projects works for their children rather than guiding them. 

If it means their children will get a better grade, then the snow parents won't hesitate to pick up the pen and paper and start to scribble. These parents are knights who fight in children's battlefields and keep them safe from unfriendly parties. 

Not just at a young age, snowplow parents will look after their children even after they grow up. These parents are the ones who like to make appointments for doctor's visits or haircuts for their adult children. They wouldn't hesitate to call the boss if their child is having a problem at work.

A lady observes the her children's work and guides them to ensure that they do it correctly
A lady observes the her children's work and guides them to ensure that they do it correctly( Source : freepik )

3. Helicopter Parents Lose Sight of Themselves For Their Children

Helicopter parents can lose sight of their actions while trying to make things easier for their children. It can be as subtle as trying to bring the administration staff under their influence to secure the admission of their children.

These parents can go to any length to give what their children want or desire. For instance, a child wants to play for the football team in school but faces tough competition for the position. In such cases, a helicopter parent may even try to make a place for his/her child by unfair means. 

4. Helicopter Parents Hover

Helicopter parents can go to the extent of controlling their children's life if necessary. Suppose their child got an A grade but one of his friends got an A+ on the exam. These parents will do everything in their power to create a more strong link with the talented kid.

Helicopter parents won't hesitate to call the talented kid to come by on their children's behalf. They may provide him with extra treatments so he will develop a stronger bond with their child. All in all, they might even establish a connection with the kid's family and invite them over for dinner or gatherings.

Similarities Between Snow Plow And Helicopter Parents

There are quite a lot of similarities between Snow Plow parents and Helicopter parents.

1. Both Parents Try To Micro-Manage Children's Life

The parents, either a snowplow or helicopter, try to micromanage the lives of their children. They are watching every step the kids take and are persistent to make sure that their kids are doing things the right way. 

Snowplow and Helicopter parents are anxious about their children's life. They want to keep an update on each and every activity of their kids. This results in parents interfering with their children's life.

These parents try to take full control of their children's lives just to ensure that the kids make the right decisions in life. If the parents are convinced that education is the top priority for their children. Then they might even cut off their game time, and stop them from going out with friends too often.

2. Parents Undermine The Ability of Children

Snowplow and Helicopter parents both underestimate the problem-solving ability of their children. The guardians feel that their children are too young and too weak to handle the problems and tough situations.

These parents think that their children are not well equipped to handle the situation at hand and step forward to take control. It will hinder the development of critical skills in children.

For instance, a child needs to complete his science project but doesn't have much time. Not submitting the project on time means, lower grades in exams. So, helicopter and snowplow parents might take the matter into their own hands and do the work for their children.

A lady high fives with her child after she helps her to draw and paint
A lady high fives with her child after she helps her to draw and paint( Source : freepik )

3. They Want The Best For The Kids

Snowplow and Helicopter parenting get too involved with their children. However, they always have the best interest in their hearts for the kids. They want to see the kids grow and succeed in whatever they do.

The main reason why parents interfere with children is that they don't want to see them in trouble. The parents care about their children's happiness and want them to feel secure and loved.

4. Children Become Dependent On Their Parents

One of the most striking similarities between Helicopter and Snowplow parents is that they foster dependency on their children. Their actions lead to their child being excessively reliant on them.

Snowplow and Helicopter parents are overprotective of their children. They will make the decisions for them, do their work for them, and solve their crisis for them. These parents are willing to go to any length to ensure that their children take the right turn in life.

This way, the child will grow up learning little to almost no critical life skills. A person wants to pursue higher education but doesn't know what subject to choose or which University to enroll in. He has no idea how to manage time between study and work. 

This is because he never had to make such decisions for himself at a young age. He was just swayed by the decisions made by his parents for him. Hence it is obvious that he will seek other people's guidance to help him choose what is best for him.

Pros And Cons Of Snow Plow Parenting

Snowplow parenting has its own pros and cons.

Pros of Snowplow Parenting

1. Children Recieve Praise They Deserve

The Snowplow parents ensure that their kid is appreciated for his or her efforts, no matter how big or small the action may be. This kind of act boosts confidence in a child.

The parents try to sweep away the problems from the path of their child. But they may not be always around to do so. In some cases, a child might manage to cope with the situation based on his intuition. Parents do notice such actions of their kids and always appreciate them in such situations.

2. Able To Deal With Failure

The snowplow parents want the best for their children and go to any length to avoid trouble for their kids. This means the parents acknowledge the fact that children need some support to deal with failures.

A person is sure to encounter many backlashes and failures in life no matter how hard he or she tries to avoid them. A person who is raised by snowplow parents can rely on their support when things go haywire.

This sort of emotional reliance on parents gives a person emotional strength. That person has an intuition that he can always count on his parents' unwavering support, no matter the grimness of the situation.

A man sits beside his child during the study time and helps her with her homework
A man sits beside his child during the study time and helps her with her homework ( Source : freepik )

3. Abundance of Emotional Support

Snowplow parents' means of securing their children may seem overstretched and excessive. However, they have the best intentions for their children at heart. They want to support their kids in any way possible.

These parents take the 'always being their children' to a whole new level. They manage time for their kids at any given time. This develops a sense of security in a person. He feels emotionally attached to his parents and feels confident about their presence.

Any person who is in a problem doesn't want to be alone. He needs company that can help him soothe the pain. Snowplow parents are the epitome of such a company because they are always there for you, providing you with emotional support.

Cons of Snowplow Parenting

1. Poor Problem-Solving Skills

When parents make unnecessary intrusions into their children's everyday routine, this undermines the problem-solving skills of the children. Snowplow parents make their children's problems their own and try to come up with solutions themselves.

These parents get involved in the affairs of their children such as reminding them about the deadlines, making appointments for them, calling to wake them up for school, helping with essays, internship applications, and other assignments, and so on. 

In doing so, the parents do manage to push their children a little further for a short while. However, in the long run, it deprives their child of critical life skills and the ability to learn how to solve problems and how to deal with tough situations.

2. Lack of Self-Efficacy

The lack of self-efficacy means the inability to produce desired results through one's own actions. When children are intentionally kept away from any kind of trouble then they will never understand how to deal with it.

The snowplow parents try to nip in the bud of every problem that comes their children's way. This way the kids never have to face any difficult situations and don't have to worry about self-efficacy.

A child of snowplow parents never has to deal with the consequences of his or her actions. They are indifferent toward what kind of result is produced by their action in the given situation. So, they are more likely to refrain from acting at all. 

Unhappy parents shout at their children while the kids try to avoid the discomfort
Unhappy parents shout at their children while the kids try to avoid the discomfort( Source : freepik )

3. Anxiety and Trouble Dealing With Frustration

Children with highly directive parents are hyper-sensitive toward anxiety and frustration. Therefore, they don't have the ability required of them to overcome the grim situation.

Snowplow parents will do everything in their power to keep their children from harm's way. This implies that those children will never face an unpleasant situation while growing up. Even if they did face such a situation, their parents will step forward and take care of it.

 In the real world, a person has to deal with his problems on his own. There is no guardian angel to look after them in difficult times. At such times, the person won't be able to handle his own emotions. 

Pros And Cons Of Helicopter Parenting

There are some pros and cons of Helicopter Parenting.

Pros of Helicopter Parenting

1. Ensures Saftey of the Children

Helicopter parents are too involved in the life of their children. This kind of involvement gives the parents a clear idea of the daily pattern of their kids like where they go, who they meet, or how long they will stay with friends.

These parents use that knowledge to filter the possible risks faced by their children. Suppose a kid goes to visit a friend without giving much detail about where, and for how long. And in case he does not return home on time, then the parents know where to look for him and whom to call.

This kind of in-depth information and understanding of one's children's behavior can prove useful at times. This will keep the children out of harm's way and provide them with a sense of security. 

2. Less Likely To Get In Trouble

Helicopter parents try their best to keep their children out of any sort of trouble. A skilled helicopter parent knows the nature of the trouble their children are facing and fixes the crisis for them.

 A child raised by helicopter parents will observe the actions of his guardians and learns from them. The parents are always making the safest choices possible for the kid. So it is more likely that the kid will try to make similar decisions in life as a grow-up, heading off trouble.

A happy family enjoy their time together on the beach and make fond memories
A happy family enjoy their time together on the beach and make fond memories( Source : freepik )

3. Encourage Extra Skill Development

Helicopter parents tend to make their children's decisions for them. In doing so, they keep in mind how to make their children more capable and talented. This way, they will encourage the kids to participate in extracurricular activities.

If a child shows an interest in football then the parents will encourage the kid to participate in football training. They will even find time to join on the audience to watch their child play and cheer them.

If the school doesn't have the necessary infrastructure to promote such activities, then they might address the situation by providing funds and volunteering for school functions.

Cons of Helicopter Parenting

1. Heavy Reliance on Parents

Helicopter parents do too much for their children which can result in over-dependence. Suppose a mother wakes her child up to get ready for school every morning, he will never bother to do it himself.

A person develops a reliance on his parents to do the things which he must do himself. If a mother prepares breakfast and takes it to the bedroom of her child every morning then the child will never learn to get out of bed and make breakfast for himself.

Helicopter parents are those who would tie the shoelaces of the kid, making the tie for them thinking that the child cannot do such things on his own. If this situation prevails for a long time, then the kid doesn't even bother to learn to do such a thing. If he sees an open shoelace, he will intuitively look sideways to see if his parents are there.

2. Worsens Parent-Child Relationship

Helicopter parents almost never leave the sight of their children at any time. They are constantly observing the activities of the kids and making judgments. 

Suppose a child wants to play in the backyard for a little longer before doing homework. But his parents insist on completing the homework by cutting the playtime because his grades were not so good in the last exam. 

In such a case, the child might take it as a sign of nagging. He is not trying to avoid his task but simply wants to do it in his own time. The parent's actions may push the child away from them, emotionally.

A sad girl sits alone on the floor while she is mocked by her friends
A sad girl sits alone on the floor while she is mocked by her friends( Source : freepik )

3. Feeling of Low Self-Esteem

The micromanagement by helicopter parents can hurt the pride of the child. If parents are constantly observing their children's activities they will start to think that they are not good enough to make their own decision.

A child may not feel this because of his naivety, but for a teenager and an adult, it may cause greater harm. Even after the grown-up child has moved out, the parents will constantly make connections and ask about what he is up to.

In cases like this, the person is likely to undermine his abilities in problem-solving, decision-making, social interaction, adaptive function, and even his self-esteem.