Helicopters and Snow Ploughs. What is the connection ?

Over the years a label has been applied to most things in our daily lives and parents are no exception with many being far from complimentary.

Much has been spoken about parenting and the methods employed in bringing up children and it would seem that we are giving parenting a bad name.

The much heralded Tiger-Mom rose to prominence following Amy Chua’s book in 2011, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. A traditional Chinese mother who expected her children to be high achievers, to accept nothing less than a Grade A and to come first in everything they do with the exception of gym and drama. Her memoir showed how she instilled a strict and regimented regime driving her children very hard to succeed both at school and in extra curricular activities.

Others might prefer the title of “authoritarian”where parents have high demands but are also very supportive in helping the child achieve their potential. The belief is that children whose parents push but equally support in a positive manner are more likely to have strong friendship groups, do well in school and be independent and self sufficient at an early stage.

Helicopter parenting is often referred to as the over part in over-parenting. It involves excessive levels of involvement and control by parents in their children's lives. A motivation for this parenting style is driven by the parents' concern that their child might come to harm or not flourish. We may have been witness to such parents who can often make one’s own parenting skills feel lame and inadequate.

In recent times the Helicopter parent has been preceded by the much more impressive Snow Plough. A parent who manages to clear away all obstacles to ensure that their children neither experience failure nor disappointment which, as you might imagine, can lead to children who fail to be resourceful, motivated or independent having never had the chance to experience setbacks which are a part of life’s rich tapestry. It has been the case that children only experience failure when they take their driving test !!

There are elements of the Snow Plough parent which have overtures of what is called a Permissive parent who have a hard time setting limits with their children. Parents are more likely to ignore bad behaviour, and against their better judgement succumb to a whim when the child becomes upset.  It may seem like this type of parenting style could foster independence, since children are likely to have to learn for themselves without the guidance of their parents. However, studies show the opposite is true and kids of Permissive parents are more likely to show signs of anxiety, depression, aggression and bad social skills, along with a poor performance at school.

While we can see there are negatives to all the above, involvement is better than being an uninvolved parent which, clearly, speaks for itself. There is no interest shown in the child’s homework and knowledge of a child’s whereabouts is scant. There tends to be few guidelines or any signs of nurture or affection by the very fact of the parent being absent.

An uninvolved parent is represented in all socio economic groups with sometimes money being thrown at the problem and passing the buck / responsibility or a total disinterest in the child. While neglectful it is not always intentional and could be down to a parent simply being unable to cope with the pressure of parenthood. However, whatever the circumstance, as a result, the child will suffer with low self esteem and a general feeling of unhappiness.

No need to be pushy be proud and present.

The best way to make children good is to make them happy. 

Oscar Wilde


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