Paul L. Caron

Monday, March 18, 2019

NY Times: 'At Stanford, Students Rely On Their Snowplow Parents To Set Up Play Dates With People In Their Dorm'

SnowplowNew York Times, How Parents Are Robbing Their Children of Adulthood:

Today’s “snowplow parents” keep their children’s futures obstacle-free — even when it means crossing ethical and legal boundaries. ...

Helicopter parenting, the practice of hovering anxiously near one’s children, monitoring their every activity, is so 20th century. Some affluent mothers and fathers now are more like snowplows: machines chugging ahead, clearing any obstacles in their child’s path to success, so they don’t have to encounter failure, frustration or lost opportunities. ...

[S]nowplowing (also known as lawn-mowing and bulldozing) has become the most brazen mode of parenting of the privileged children in the everyone-gets-a-trophy generation.

It starts early, when parents get on wait lists for elite preschools before their babies are born and try to make sure their toddlers are never compelled to do anything that may frustrate them. It gets more intense when school starts: running a forgotten assignment to school or calling a coach to request that their child make the team.

Later, it’s writing them an excuse if they procrastinate on schoolwork, paying a college counselor thousands of dollars to perfect their applications or calling their professors to argue about a grade. ...

In her practice, Dr. Levine said, she regularly sees college freshmen who “have had to come home from Emory or Brown because they don’t have the minimal kinds of adult skills that one needs to be in college.” ...

One came home because there was a rat in the dorm room. Some didn’t like their roommates. Others said it was too much work, and they had never learned independent study skills. One didn’t like to eat food with sauce. Her whole life, her parents had helped her avoid sauce, calling friends before going to their houses for dinner. At college, she didn’t know how to cope with the cafeteria options — covered in sauce.

“Here are parents who have spent 18 years grooming their kids with what they perceive as advantages, but they’re not,” Dr. Levine said.

Yes, it’s a parent’s job to support the children, and to use their adult wisdom to prepare for the future when their children aren’t mature enough to do so. That’s why parents hide certain toys from toddlers to avoid temper tantrums or take away a teenager’s car keys until he finishes his college applications.

If children have never faced an obstacle, what happens when they get into the real world?

They flounder, said Julie Lythcott-Haims, the former dean of freshmen at Stanford and the author of “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success.”

At Stanford, she said, she saw students rely on their parents to set up play dates with people in their dorm or complain to their child’s employers when an internship didn’t lead to a job. The root cause, she said, was parents who had never let their children make mistakes or face challenges.

Snowplow parents have it backward, Ms. Lythcott-Haims said: “The point is to prepare the kid for the road, instead of preparing the road for the kid.” ...

In a new poll by The New York Times and Morning Consult of a nationally representative group of parents of children ages 18 to 28, three-quarters had made appointments for their adult children, like for doctor visits or haircuts, and the same share had reminded them of deadlines for school. Eleven percent said they would contact their child’s employer if their child had an issue.

Sixteen percent of those with children in college had texted or called them to wake them up so they didn’t sleep through a class or test. Eight percent had contacted a college professor or administrator about their child’s grades or a problem they were having. ...

At the elite schools, Ms. O’Laughlin said, a mother once called her to ask her to list the items in the school salad bar so she could choose what her daughter should eat for lunch, and another parent intervened over video chat to resolve a dispute with a roommate over stolen peanut butter.

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Now compare these folks with "the Greatest Generation", those that fought in, died and ultimately won WW II. A sad commentary and I hope those over-protected children can become self-sufficient adults.

Posted by: Jack | Mar 19, 2019 1:56:14 PM

Please have a talk with your editor. Whomever is doing that job gets a huge fail for shortened name references (see "Dr. Levine" and "Ms. O'Laughlin") that have no preceding longer name as in "Dr. Janet Levine" or "Ms. Siobhan O'Laughlin." I just made up a couple of first names that seemed for whatever reason to fit. Tell me I was correct on at least one of them and I will go play a hunch at the track.

Posted by: Scott Rodocker | Mar 19, 2019 9:30:25 AM

One wonders how these kids will do when they get older

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Mar 19, 2019 4:11:52 AM

Which is why the voting age should be raised, not lowered.

Posted by: ruralcounsel | Mar 19, 2019 3:37:20 AM

Play dates! That's the perfect term for parents who do the asking for a date for their college age sons. It is so child-like. They're still treating their grown sons like small children. How did ideas this insane develop among parents in the first place?

And yeah, I wonder how these college girls respond when a boy's mother calls to ask them out?

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | Mar 18, 2019 5:56:03 PM