NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - You've heard of helicopter parenting, when a parent constantly hovers over their child’s every move, but what about "snowplow parenting"?
"A snowplow parent is a parent who tries to clear away or remove obstacles so their child has an easier time achieving success," explains Dr. Nava Silton, a developmental psychologist and professor at Marymount College.
She says it has become a common parenting phenomenon. It was the topic of the New York Times Sunday Styles cover story, after last week’s news that dozens of high-profile and celebrity parents snowplowed their childrens’ way into top universities through cheating, lies and millions of dollars.
"You might be able to admit them to an institution but in order for them to have the life skills they need to achieve in college and beyond, you want to teach them problem solving skills, you want them to have resilience and grit," Silton said.
In the case of the college cheating scheme, dubbed "Operation Varsity Blues," the snowplowing was extreme and illegal: paying for others to take the child's SATs, as actress Felicity Huffman allegedly did, or bribing a coach to pretend the child is a top athlete as actress Lori Laughlin is accused of doing.
But clearing the way for children to succeed can also be done by paying for tutoring, pulling strings to get into a preschool, or calling school administrators to ask for special privileges.
What do u think about this concept? Parents on the Upper East Side were familiar with the concept.
"In Manhattan it’s probably way more prevalent than many people may assume," said John Cecil, father to a six-year-old. "It's hard not to sympathize because we all want to do the best things for our kid, but at some point we have to let them fail."
"You do what you feel you need to do to make sure your kids are safe, successful and happy," said dad David Wan.
But Silton says, although parents who snowplow a path for their child do it to help them get ahead, it can ultimately hurt them in the future.
"When you’re removing obstacles for your child, they don’t know how to deal with everyday life" she said. "They need to know how to deal with conflict resolution with roommates, to deal with not having enough money or not having studied for an exam."
And if you start snowplowing for your children when they're little, it can be a hard habit to break. The New York Times cited a poll it conducted with Morning Consult, of parents with children ages 18 to 28. Three-quarters admitted to making appointments for their adult children. and some even said they’d call their adult child’s employer if necessary.