05/09/2014 07:03 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

Snowplough, Helicopter And Tiger. Why Can't Parents Just Be Parents?

Young mother holding the stop sign and his son posing in front of her

Just when you thought you'd heard all the mumbo jumbo that parent-speak had to offer, along comes another term to add to the laundry pile.

Christened the snowplough, you could be forgiven for thinking this was something you did on skis, or a juggernaut type vehicle occasionally useful for shoving snow out of the way in severe weather.
But these days, you're more likely to come across a snowplough in a soft play area, than you are on a treacherous bypass in December.

Because in case you haven't heard, the snowplough is the latest type of parent to enter the playground - or at least the constantly evolving lexicon of bringing up kids.

Snowplough parenting isn't just about taking the mini Bodens on expensive winter holidays (although ski lessons are quite possibly on the agenda.) Instead, the snowplough parent's main objective is to clear all potential obstacles from their prodigy's path (or piste.)

This could include only taking them to above soft play areas at times when other little shits are least likely to be there hogging the bumpy slide and using words like poo out of lavatorial context.

Naturally, snowplough parents take a surgical interest in their child's education, rehearsing all spelling tests and completing all homework to the best of (the parent's) ability. This ensures the child never has to deal with the shame and sense of failure of ever achieving less than 100 percent.

According to recent research, these parents micro-manage every aspect of their child's life, so that the delicate creature never has to experience anything more upsetting than Waitrose running out of organic blueberries. Apparently, this could be harmful for your child's future career and relationship prospects. Not the blueberries (although a lack of will probably cause some dreadful disease) but the micro-managing. Oh, really?

While it stands to reason that molly-coddled children will grow up less able to fend for themselves, do we really need another parenting paradigm to explain this? Or is it all just another way of pigeon-holing, and therefore judging, parents?

Even the word parenting (a verb) highlights the fact that being a parent (a noun) is no longer something you are, it is something you do. The role of bringing up children has morphed from just loving and looking after them into a competitive sport with rules and goals, winners and losers.


Whatever happened to just getting on with it, trusting your instincts, and God forbid, even enjoying some of it without worrying that you're doing it all wrong or that someone else is doing it better?


When I first became a mum, seven and a half years ago, the closest thing I'd read to a child rearing manual was the 'Top Fifty Thousand (or however many it was) Baby Names,' - and even then I only got as far as J.

And although I knew I wanted to breastfeed (if possible) and sleep in the same room as my baby, this had more to do with not wanting to faff around with formula and sterilising (something I was likely to cock up) and having a tiny house, than it did with attachment parenting - a term I'd never even heard of. Wasn't it just normal to be attached to your baby?

Roll forwards two more children (third time round I never made it past A in that book) and I can speak Parenting better than I can speak French (which is actually quite badly, but you get the point).

These days, you can barely turn on morning TV, without some expert extolling the benefits, or deploring the dangers, of a particular style of parenting.

One's thing for sure, Snowplough parents aren't the first to hit the headlines and the text books and they almost certainly won't be the last. So here are a few other parenting styles you may also recognise. Follow at your (children's) peril.

Helicopter parenting. Those mums and dads who hover constantly over their children ready to intercede at the slightest sign of danger. Formerly known as over-protective, before the psychologists got involved.

Tiger Mothers. These are the mums who have confused wanting the best for their child, with wanting their child to be the best, so instead of going on playdates or err, playing, the kid spends all its time practising the cello, memorising the Periodic table and learning Russian (unless of course, the child is Russian, in which case substitute Japanese or other suitably challenging language.) But hey, they can always make friends once they've got their place at Oxford.

Outsourced parenting. This is just a posh way of saying minted-with-kids as these parents simply pay other people to bring up their children, from the day nanny, to the night nurse, the head chef, the thumb sucking guru and even the toilet training expert who will mop up your child's piss so you don't have to (for a substantial fee of course.) And you felt guilty for sending your child to after school club?

Attachment parenting. That's the mum with a child permanently suctioned to a nipple, despite the fact the kid has already started school, whose clothing doubles up as baby-carrying gear and who lives, breathes and of course sleeps with her children. (And before anyone complains, dads can be attachment parents too, just without the nipple thing.)

So there you are, just a few ways to bring up your kids. Don't fancy any of the above? There's also the love-your-child-and-try-to-do-what-feels-right-and-works-for-both-of-you-technique.
Or the keep-calm-and-don't-get-pregnant-again technique.

Now there's a catchy name for a parenting manual.

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