If you have children, you only want the best for your little ones. Nowadays, however, some parents overshoot the mark when it comes to care. The children themselves are the ones who suffer.
Kassel – Anyone who has ever stood on two boards may have heard the term "snow plow" outside its actual context. In any case, the snow plow does one thing: it clears everything out of the way. And the term is now also appearing in pedagogical terms.
Because, comparable to clunky plowing, so-called "snowplow parents" unswervingly remove everything and everyone from the track to pave the way for their children.
"Snowplow parents" as the battering rams among the "helicopter moms and dads"
So-called "helicopter parents" should have long been a familiar term even for childless people: It is often used colloquially for those mothers and fathers who look after their children better than their own eyeball and, for example, definitely go to school in person; instead of sending them off by bicycle. Ideally, all the way into the classroom.
"Snowplow parents" are an extreme form of helicopter parenting, where caring becomes overprotection. (Symbolic photo) © Inga Kjer/dpa
Probably the most extreme form of helicopter parents is the "snowplow parents", who essentially want to protect their children from potential dangers like "curling parents". But while "curling parents" try to give their children the smoothest and most unhindered way through life possible, snowplow moms and dads humorlessly clear away everything that could stand in their way.
Differences in the sandbox or in the schoolyard are fought out just as personally as better grades are demanded from the class teacher. Of course, the snowplough parent also takes over homework himself without further ado, should they challenge the junior too much.
"Snowplow parents" is not a fixed term – but overprotection by parents is still on the rise
The terms for the various educational methods are not scientifically proven, as psychologist Claus Koch clarifies. However, the increasing trend towards overprotection by parents is also clearly heard by experts. "What has actually increased are the fears of parents about the future of their children," explains psychologist Koch.
In 2013, Josef Kraus, the former and deceased president of the German Teachers' Association, estimated that about ten to 15 percent of all mothers and fathers exhibited behavioral patterns of "helicopter parents". The fact that the curve has moved upwards rather than downwards over the past ten years is suggested by a tweet from a mother: According to this, parents would have had tears in their eyes when the school management forbade them to drive their children to school.
"Generation unable to live": When exaggerated care becomes a problem for the child
As amused or indignant as some may shake their heads at those moms and dads who wrap their offspring in cotton wool, overprotected education can be problematic for children. "Children of helicopter parents often lack social competence and initiative," explains Prof. Dr. Stephan Bender, Director of the Clinic for Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy of Childhood and Adolescence at the University Hospital of Cologne, to the health magazine of the AOK.
Is this still care or already overprotection? "Snowplow parents" mean well, but pamper their children. The consequences can range from uncertainties to dependency. (Symbolic photo) © Anastasiya Amraeva/Imago
As a result, the children often have "problems expressing their needs", are not independent and cannot "fully develop their talents", according to the expert. The result: a "generation unable to live"? In addition to typical characteristics of overprotected children, Bender also discusses possible circumstances of the parents. Social media played a role in this. Mothers in particular have a hard time these days and have to fight against the clichés of the working raven mother and the pampering helicopter mother.
According to Bender, the biggest challenge for parents is not wanting to relieve their children of all the challenges. "The parental function is, among other things, to support your child only until the point is reached at which it can take over on its own," he is quoted as saying by the health magazine of the AOK. However, the fact that the pendulum can also swing in the other direction is shown by a trend from the USA: according to the principle of "free-range" farming, little or no limits are often set there. (rku/dpa)