As if helicoptering parents weren’t enough, there’s a new breed of moms and dads nowadays, These so-called “snow plow” types, don’t just hover, they remain ahead of the curve removing potential obstacles in their children’s paths to ensure their smooth sailing through this uncertain world of ours.
Case in point: the oft referred to college admissions scandal that broke in March and involved at least 50 arrested parents, actress Felicity Huffman among them. Having been caught paying $15,000 to secure a phony SAT score for her daughter, she expressed “deep regret and shame” and apologized to those who gained college acceptance based on their own merit before serving a very light sentence.
Reportedly, countless parents can’t seem to let go of the reins and let their grown-up kids fend for themselves, as evidenced by a New York Times/Morning Consult poll of 1,136 parents of 18- to 28-year-olds and 1,508 young people in that age range.
Among the parents, the survey found that:
- 76% said they’d reminded their adult children of deadlines they need to meet, including for schoolwork.
- 74% made appointments for them, including doctor’s appointment.
- 42% offered them advice on relationships and romantic life.
- 22% helped them study for a test.
- 16% helped write all or part of a job or internship application.
- 15% called or texted to make sure they didn’t sleep through a class or a test.
And on and on…
Says Nebraska’s Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican, “…Today there is little regard for adolescence as a formative and delimited period. Instead of teaching youths to build foresight and resilience, many parents and educators are defaulting on this responsibility. Consequently, many youths are failing to develop the kind of self-reliance, solid character, and self-esteem they otherwise would, rendering them unprepared for the rigors of adulthood.”
The result: perennial children who, even in their post-teen years, lack the skills, the wherewithal to cope with frustration, inconvenience, and failure–the best teacher of all. Incapable of standing on their own, instead of a “can do” attitude, theirs is a “let someone else do it for me” attitude.
Enter the term adulting, which translates into behaving like an adult. In other words, holding down a job, paying bills, living independently, even writing a check and otherwise fending for themselves..
Vase in point and the God’s honest truth: The 21-year-old in line with me at the post office a few months ago told me she was “adulting,” by mailing a letter all on her own fo the very first time.
I’d never heard the term until that day; now I hear it a lot.
No wonder, then, that young people embrace politicians like Bernie Sanders,’ who, if-elected, would cancel all student debt, forcing taxpayers into the role of snowplow parent. Ditto for Elizabeth Warren and her debt erasing proposal based on a borrower’s income.
As for the bottom line, former dean of freshmen at Stanford University and author of the bestselling How to Raise An Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success, puts it this way: “The point is to prepare the kid for the road, instead of preparing the road for the kid. You can’t just arrive them at the future you want for them. They have to do the work to build the skills.”