Okay, its rave time. Just a warning.
I sympathize with helicopter parents, I really do.
I was one. I reluctantly stopped hovering once my kids left the nest. I knew that the sovereignty of The Spawn was more important than my own desire to continue colonial rule.
Trust me, weve ALL benefited from my abdication.
Did I hound my offspring to do their homework when they were kids? You betcha.
Did I have meetings with their high school guidance counselors to voice concerns without The Spawn present?
Was I closely involved with their choices of college? Yup.
AND just to be fair, I’ll admit to SOME of my post-nest-leaving helicoptering:
We did their taxes while in they were in college. Weve also discussed with them (in depth) health insurance options offered at their workplaces, helped negotiate a purchase of a car and lugged a bigger-than-an elevator-sized sofa up eight flights of stairs.
But heres something Ive never done. Ive never GONE TO A JOB INTERVIEW WITH MY ADULT KID!
Does this really happen? Oh yeah.
Forbes.com posted this (“Are Parents Killing Their Kids’ Careers?” Tara Weiss):
“Last year I had a parent sit in the lobby and wait the entire four hours during the job interview, says Audrey Abron, an executive recruiter for Belk Department Stores in Charlotte, N.C. The girl introduced us to her mother, and there was no embarrassment. She felt it was acceptable behavior. What do you say? Some things should be understood. Things like, you don’t bring your mommy or daddy to a job interview.’
Can you imagine?
Im flabbergasted. Would you hire this umbilical cord dragging applicant? I closed my eyes and tried to imagine under what circumstances this would be appropriate behavior. I drew a big fat blank.
The article continues:
As an executive recruiter for healthcare consultancy Stockamp and Associates, Kate Carson is used to talking to plenty of job applicants. What shes not used to is talking to their parents. But that’s exactly what shes doing more of these days. Recently she received a call from the mother of a 24-year-old graduate student who wanted to know why her daughter didn’t receive a job offer with the Oregon-based company. I was a little taken aback, says Carson.
Oh come ON! Seriously?
24 years old and Mommy’s still nipping at the heels?
Who is Mom doing this for?
I thought possibly I had a skewed perspective on this, so I called my daughter, The Piglet, to see if this was a common practice among her peers. The Piglet is a very diplomatic person — she’s always willing to see all sides of an issue. In order to state my case properly, I first got my ducks in a row. I compiled my findings and rang her up with my computer at the ready.
Here’s the ensuing conversation:
Me: Hey baby, I need your input on something. I’m working on an article about parents who go along with their adult kids to job interviews..
The Piglet: WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?
That really happens?
Okay. Got it.
Oh, but it gets worse. From USA Today comes these examples
(“Helicopter’ parents hover when kids job hunt” Stephanie Armour):
At Hewlett-Packard, parents have gone as far as contacting the company after their child gets a job offer. They want to talk about their son’s or daughter’s salary, relocation packages and scholarship programs.
At Weber Shandwick, a global public relations firm, a father recently called the company to inquire about how his son could apply for its Atlanta internship program. I was very surprised. I answered my phone, and he said he had a son interested in internships, says Jennifer Seymour, who runs the intern program. She says helicopter parents create a negative view.”
Jeez people. We’ve GOT to let our kids grow up.
I figured I should do some more research. Maybe employers benefit from overparenting.
Is there some secret formula I’m missing? Something like:
E(mployee)+ P(sychoParent) – T(ime spent on the phone with Mommy
bragging on Spawn’s exploits) = S(uperEmployee)? Hmmm…
So does parental hovering hurt employers?
CareerBuilder.com had this to say (“Helicopter Parents on the Job Search” Patrick Erwin):
Eileen Habelow is a regional vice president and director for the staffing firm Randstad USA. She’s also had some eye- opening experiences with the parents of young job seekers. Habelow remembers one candidate who seemed ideal in many ways — except one.
“During the interview process, the candidate continuously referenced her parents, their roles in her search, their support in evaluating us as an employer and a financially stable company, and their advice on how she should negotiate the employment deal, Habelow recalls.
That level of parental involvement raised some red flags. She was a very sharp candidate: polished, smart, well-educated and confident. However, the constant reference to mom and dad was a definite turnoff, Habelow states. The company hired the candidate, but Habelow soon regretted that decision. After three months she let us know that her parents agreed that maybe this was not the best fit after all. I will trust my instincts next time.
I bet she will. Ms. Habelow and her company just wasted HOW much time and money on this infantile employee? This sharp, polished, smart, well-educated and confident young lady would probably be an excellent candidate — once Mom and Dad stop knocking the legs out from under her.
In Ms. Armours report for USA Today she found that
Too much parental involvement can backfire: Employers may shy away from job candidates because they don’t want to deal with parents. Psychologically, it’s somewhat eroding. When an employer is hiring someone, they’re hiring an adult for an adult job, and then they have to deal with a parent, says Charles Wardell in New York, the managing director and head of the northeast region at Korn/Ferry. There comes a time when you’ve prepared children, and you need to let go.”
Ms. Weiss from Forbes learned that
“Parents have been very involved in managing their son or daughter’s lives,” says Melanie Parker, executive director of career services at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. They’re the most managed generation in history. Parents think they’re helping their son or daughter but there are consequences.
At some point they’ll have to be more independent, but that breakaway will occur later than in past generations. Parker received several requests from parents to get their own university ID cards so they can have easy access to the career center to take care of their child’s business. Parker denies all of those requests.
Jonathan Klick, a Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania, writes (“The Dangers of Letting Someone Else Decide“):
The more we protect individuals from making decisions (good or bad), the less willing they will be to invest in decisionmaking capacities. A few years ago, I was bemused when I spoke at an orientation session for new law students, finding that a third of the room was filled with their parents. This feeling eventually turned to despair when I discovered this is a fairly ubiquitous phenomenon. By coddling their children, it seems, todays helicopter parents have actually stunted their childrens development. You may think I am exaggerating the costs of this, but there is at least some evidence of this coddling leading to negative long term consequences.
Finally, this gem from Forbes:
“That’s exactly how Carmen (R) feels about her daughter. A junior at Gonzaga University in Washington State, (her daughter) is in the middle of an internship hunt and is getting plenty of help from her mom, who’s developed an Excel spreadsheet to track contacts, is ready to accompany her on job interviews and write follow-up letters. Says (Ms. R), ‘I’m monitoring my investment.'”
Put a fork in me, I’m done.
YOUR TURN: You’ve heard my thoughts on the subject, what are yours? Do you have any stories to share?