Should Parents be Involved in Their Children's Careers? Hell, No.
As a member of Generation X, there are a lot of things I don’t understand about the Millennials (aka people born after 1981). The tattoos, the dubstep music, the way they consider hoodies and flip-flops to be formal attire. But the biggest thing I don’t get is how a lot of them think it’s okay to let their parents get involved in their careers. Like really involved.
I’m not talking about a mother helping her 13-year-old son out with his paper route here; I’m talking about parents who do things like go on job interviews or try to negotiate raises---on behalf of their grown-ass-children. As mind-boggling as it seems, our first generation of helicopter parents, the ones responsible for making sure everyone got a trophy, are still hovering over their kids as they enter the professional world.
Per a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, this begins with college-aged interns whose dependence on their parents has led companies to think it’s best practice to keep them involved.
“Some Northwestern Mutual managers call or send notes to parents when interns achieve their sales goals and let parents come along to interviews and hear details of job offers. They may even visit parents at home.”
Oh, my God. We’re talking about 21, 22 and 23-year-old adults here. If one of my internship bosses had called my parents at home in the early 90’s to give them a progress report on me, my dad would have first said, “Wendi has an internship?” and then he would have started laughing and hung up the phone. I was in college, for God's sake, not nursery school.
And it gets worse. Today’s Money.com relates the stories of a dad who pretended to be his son on a phone interview and another dad who called a manager to ask how his intern son was going to get to work since he didn’t have a car. And then there’s the employee who was turned down for a promotion, spurring her mother to call the company to complain. Yep. Now let’s go back to what my parents did every time I told them I didn’t get a promotion: Said “Try harder.” And guess what? I did try harder and I did eventually get the promotion because I earned it. Not because my sweet mommy called Human Resources and screamed, "GIVE MY DAUGHTER HER OWN OFFICE!"
My question is: If kids are constantly coddled, even into adulthood, how are they ever going to grow up? As parents, our job is to teach our children the skills they need to succeed in life and then we need to take a deep breath and push them out of the nest. It may be hard to watch them fail or get fired or not land their dream job, but those experiences are precisely what makes someone an adult. Those experiences are how character is built and how perseverance and self-confidence are learned. I've had some terrible, awful, no-good jobs in my life, but I'm glad I did. They taught me life lessons that I had to learn on my own.
The best gift you can give your child is the pride in knowing they’ve accomplished something all by themselves, so please, stay out of their workplace.
Unless it's to tell them to not wear a hoodie to an interview.