How To Stop Being a Snowplow Parent – Part 2

How To Stop Being a Snowplow Parent – Part 2 May 21, 2024

Step #4: Walk parallel to them, instead of in front 

As our teens get older, instead of snowplowing the road ahead to avoid potential hurt, experts advise that we walk parallel to our kids. This allows us to keep watch and share wisdom if we think it is needed. But if our child doesn’t heed what we say, it allows them to trip and fall over that obstacle we saw coming, but which they dismissed.

For example, avoid the urge to wake your child up every morning in time for school because they’ll get detention for being late. It’s far better for them to learn the lesson of being late for school now than being late for that job interview.

Or what if they haven’t figured out how to navigate an intimidating obstacle – for example how to talk to their boss at the pizza place about switching their work schedule? Yes, encourage and help them by offering to role-play the conversation, but stay parallel. Don’t step into the actual conversation. That gives them the chance to try their hand at it.

Will they do well at it? Maybe not. Maybe they will fumble and feel embarrassed. Maybe they will even end up with a worse schedule from an impatient boss. But again, better for them to give it a shot, practice when the stakes are low, and position themselves later to think, “I’ve done this before, and I know what to expect next time.”

Full disclosure: I’m really, really not good at this. I’m not good at letting my kids – especially my son, who has epilepsy and some processing issues as a result – fumble and try in this way. I want to prevent the heartaches. But … will I? I have to realize: I’m not actually preventing the heartaches. Rather, I am merely postponing the heartaches until a time when the stakes are much higher—and when I will truly be unable to help.


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