Avoid Snowplow parenting

When I was 16 I tried out for my high school basketball team. My school of 1800 students had 60 guys try out that year. I knew my odds were slim.

But I hustled and sweated and made the first cut to 40. Then I made the cut to 25. But when Coach posted the final cut to 15 I wasn’t on the list. I know because I checked the list three times. Neither was one of my buddies, Bob. Dejected and defeated I dragged my gym bag and myself home and pitifully flopped on my bed.

Later that night my dad consoled me, saying, “I know you’re disappointed, but I want you to know, I wouldn’t trade you for the greatest basketball player on the planet.” That helped a little. Still, I was hurt.

Days later my hurt turned to frustration when I learned that somehow Bob was a late addition to the team. How? He wasn’t any better than I was! I asked Bob what happened. “My dad talked to Coach. Dad pitched a big fit and said he’d raise a stink if Coach didn’t take me. So Coach added me.”
Frustration turned to fury and that night I vented to my own dad about what happened. Dad said in a very measured tone, “That’s too bad and it’s not something I would ever do. I know you wouldn’t want me to because Bob will always know he didn’t earn it.” End of conversation.
My Dad did not believe in what is now referred to as “snowplow parenting”. Those are the parents who unfairly move obstacles out of the way of their children. They’ve always been around but it seems like there are more of them lately. Parents like those involved in the college tuition scandal. Or Bob’s dad.

Not making the team stung but I’m glad Dad didn’t snowplow for me. Parents: put away the snowplow. Allow your children to succeed on their own merit.

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