'Snowplow Parents' Aren't Helping Stressed Kids

Kids tell the American Psychological Association their stress levels are as bad as anything adults suffer because of all the homework they’re assigned. There is an immediate heartfelt and loving desire to shield, protect and comfort a distressed child, but parents struggle to know how much stress is a learning experience and how much is harmful.

A decade ago, the term “parachute parent” was in vogue to describe a mom or dad who would swoop in to manage a child’s life in the way that “helicopter parents” had a decade before them. Texas family therapist and host of Simple Marriage website Dr. Corey Allan says there is a new breed. 

“I’ve come across the term ‘snowplow parenting,’" he says. "We’re just clearing obstacles for them to make life easier, and most likely when they hit adulthood and are on their own trying to survive in adult relationships, they’re going to find that snowplows don’t exist.”

Allan says sometimes making it easier on kids today makes it harder on them tomorrow. Suffering homework-overload as a rite of passage is part of every student’s experience, but some parents are saying their kids homework levels are stressing them out as well, and are asking academicians how much is too much.

A poll of public school teachers finds on average teenagers are assigned 3.5 hours of homework each night. 

“The world we live in requires work and struggle, and problem-solving and having some grit,” acknowledges Allan, who says the stress kids feel is real, but the lessons to be derived from perseverance, time management, responsibility and accountability are also valuable. 

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