Opinion: Snowplow Parents Can't Plow Away Adversity

The Boston Globe recently published an article complaining about intrusive parents. However it wasn’t the topic of the article that caught my eye, but rather a quote within from BC’s Dean of Students.

Though many parents have taken the college experience in stride, others have had a more difficult time with the transition than their own children. The article accuses some parents of being overly involved in the lives of their college-age children, referring to these overprotective adults as “snowplow parents,” “trying to smooth a path for their kids even after they’ve started college.”

The article mentioned that some parents of students have called Boston College Residential Life to “complain about minor roommate issues,” while other colleges have reported fathers calling about grades and mothers calling dining halls with meal suggestions.

BC’s Dean of Students, Paul Chebator, gave his input on the subject: “It’s to the point where some of our students not only have never experienced adversity before, but they have no idea how to deal with it when they do face it…What to most people might be a relatively minor issue becomes a major life crisis.”

I understand what he is trying to get across, but he’s making this assumption about students based on how their parents are acting. Even the most overprotective parents cannot shield their offspring from all of life’s woes. Has Chebator ever walked into a high school environment? Our moms and dads could never protect us from those trials and tribulations. Beyond the stresses of college and high school life, the world throws other unexpected complications at us. Perhaps there does exist that one student who has never had to encounter a single complication in his life because of the shield his parents have cast before him. Find this student, bring him to me and let him tell me himself that he has never faced adversity. I am positive he will not agree with this assessment.

Even the most coddled, affluent prep school kids at this college have had their share of encounters with adversity. Chebator’s remark brings to light a problem that many people on this campus, and in the world, have: we assume we understand someone’s life story by how they appear in front of us. “Nice hair, clothes and no student loans? She must have such an easy life.” It’s never that straightforward.

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