Would You Hire An Employee with a Helicopter Parent?

Hi Readers! Wow. I’d heard anecdotes about this… guess it’s really true: Some parents are hovering, managing, massaging the careers of their post-college kids. (And some companies think that’s just fine? Even weirder!) Read all about it in forbes.com.

87 Responses

  1. Link’s broken?

  2. Just add an “L” to the end of the link, so it’s a .html

  3. This just floors me. I can’t even imaging doing anything remotely close to this with my parents. I’ve read this before, a link from somewhere, and it’s from end of 2006. I wonder how many companies are still embracing this trend now that the job market has changed.

  4. I work with college students (and have for about 14 years), so have dealt with my fair share of helicopter parents…especially given that I have worked at New Ivies (read: expensive!) for most of that time.

    While I’ve heard some anecdotes about this very thing and am a bit surprised to hear about companies courting parents in this way, there’s no evidence here that this is the norm. They cited a few relevant examples from big organizations, but nothing about how widespread this phenomenon might be.

    I think we do tend to gawk at the train wrecks, so this might be a case of highlighting the unusual, but making it seem like the norm simply by covering it.

    The other thing worth pointing out is the article is 3.5 years old. There is some sense that we’re moving past the Millennial generation and into a new (unnamed) one, which has not quite defined itself. Certainly I’m personally seeing more parents who are striving very hard not to be helicopters in the face of all the media hype about them.

  5. It’s like they don’t trust their kids to make something of themselves, so they’re doing all the leg work for them. They don’t realize that they are really doing more harm than good. As the article said, at some point the kids are going to have to fend for themselves. So if things are always being done for them, they won’t know what to do when the time comes when they will have to deal with reality and life. They’ll always be relying on mom and dad. Unless the whole point is for mom and dad to prosper from their children’s would be success (if they make it that far). ie. the Lohans, the Spears, and all the hockey, baseball, and basketball parents.

    Maybe that’s why they are saying 40’s are the new 30’s, 30’s are the new 20’s. Which would make 20’s the new teens. Which in my experience with 20 somethings these days, isn’t that big of a stretch. lol

    My advice to Helicopter Parents…Don’t be so selfish, let your kids grow up before it’s too late.

  6. About 8 years ago, my cubical was in a group outside the HR office. She’d leave her door open & play the “mommy messages” on speaker phone. Once a helicopter mom called insisting on knowing why junior didn’t get the job, she replied “We don’t hire dependent minors as a policy.” the applicant was 24 and it was obvious he didn’t even write his own resume. Mom started yelling at HR who promptly disconnected the call.

    My father helped me on my educational & career path by encouraging me to find what I do best & go for it. My mom has been a sounding board. My 7 year old is more independent than many of this odd oversupervised millenial generation. I do think psychological intervention is needed. But the companies endorsing & encouraging these parents by embracing their overinvolvement will likely loose in the short & long run when they discover their new hires have no critical thinking skills and need mom’s help to write up their presentation.

  7. bummer – bad link to forbes

  8. I’m horrible at resumes and cover letters, so I always write the rough draft, then go over it with my dad for HOURS while he explains why he would phrase something differently, or leave that job off… I honestly couldn’t do it without him.

    That being said, when I was younger and needed my parents to drive me to an interview, they always waited in the car or ran errands. They did NOT come in the building and no one knew they were there.

    I can understand a parent calling to say their kid couldn’t make it to an interview if they’re sick enough they can’t talk on the phone. My parents have called in to work for me when I’ve lost my voice once or twice, just like my husband would do it now or vice versa.

  9. Most of this is weird, but I like the idea of an open house for parents of new hires. Kind of like a “Take Your Parents to Work Day” where they can ask supervisors questions without feeling like they are interrupting work. I’ve been in a small and unusual field for 15 years now, and I still don’t think my father knows what I do. Something like this to get the lay of the land would be great.

  10. I’m in grad school…well, not real grad school – law school. Every year at my school there is a “Parents’ and Partners’ Day.” The first year here my wife went and sat in a nice room filled with parents, heard from the Dean, and took a little tour. It’s kind of an official “take your dear ones to school day.” But it seems more normal just to bring your folks in for a visit when they happen to be in town, rather than make an event (or scene?) out of it.

    I suppose it makes sense in some ways. I’m a few years older than the average student. And I am sure a number of the parents are footing astronomical tuition costs, so maybe they deserve a chance to peak behind the curtains.

    Still, everyone in law school already has at least one degree. Once upon a time I think that would have been solid evidence for independence.

  11. My mom is fantastic; when I was growing up she allowed me to be very independent and learn on my own. She really shocked me once, about seven years ago, when I was applying for colleges, though. Of course I expected to include my mom in deciding which school was right, and so we had drawn up a list together of which schools I would be applying to. The next day she presented me with the applications for all these schools – already filled out, including some of the essay questions.

    When I asked her why she hadn’t just left it to me to do, she said some of her friends were shocked when she had told them that she WASN’T planning to do this for me, and she felt like she was letting me down. We had a good laugh at the idea that I couldn’t do it on my own and then I redid them all (and got into some pretty darn good schools, too).

  12. I’m surprised that so many companies seem to think it’s ok. I also would not like it all if a company that hired me on sent a letter to my parents with job details, including salary, on it. Isn’t that my business to share? I would be upset at that.

    OTOH, I don’t see where it’s wrong to have your parents help with your resume. I was lucky to get a great job right out of school with no resume needed. 10 years later I was laid off and needed to write my first ever resume. My mom has experience in that so why shouldn’t I use her expertise?

  13. I always suspect that these stories are overblown. Yes, maybe three or four applicants to some big corporation were accompanied by their parents to their interviews–maybe because they’re living at home and their parents are their rides, due to crappy public transportation–but I really can’t believe that the majority of college graduates still aren’t making their own phone calls.

  14. Yeah, I used my mom for the financial aid forms for undergrad, because it was her finances that mattered. (I was 16-20 and living in her house.) I filled out my own college and grad school applications, arranged for all the entrance exams, etc. For that matter, my parents had no involvement in my high school progress other than signing me up on the first day of 8th grade, and giving me hell if I overslept. When I went to law school, my mom came with me to help me move into the dorm on the first day of the first year. That was it. As far as resumes, job interviews, etc.? I am not sure my parents have ever seen one of my resumes, let alone weighed in on it. Good Lord, they were married homeowners with kids by the time they were old enough to graduate from college.

    I would not want to hear from (or frankly, about) a job candidate’s parents during the recruiting process. To me, it was always a huge turnoff to hear a college graduate talking like his parents’ accomplishments have any bearing on his worth. That includes the expensive high school that his parents were rich enough to pay for. To me, it says that child has never grown up; and my office is not a finishing school nor a frat house. Come back when you have something to say for YOURSELF.

    I did have one employee who did well in the interview (and was recommended by a super employee), but had issues later on. He was always saying “I did this because my father told me to.” He chose his course of study, came to the USA, and chose his profession, all based on what his father thought was best. He had no opinion of his own. When the going got tough, he would try to get me to tell him what he should do. What a mess. I liked the guy, but seriously. He failed at his job and had to go back to his previous employer, where things were less stressful/demanding.

  15. One of the first jobs my sister got was because my mom talked up the manager. In the last year, I’ve seen 3 or 4 people come into the office for interviews with parents in tow (not just waiting in the car but actually introducing themselves to the interviewer). I think it shows a lack of independent thinking. If you can’t even be adult enough to handle a job interview how will you be mature enough to do the job? I’d never emberass myself or my kids by interfering in their professional life. It demonstrates a lack of readiness and anyone whose parents came to the interview w/them would be automatically disqualified.

  16. I know this is a little off topic, but we’re hosting a guy from a foreign country who just got his first “permanent” US job. This guy is a college graduate, and I think he has a master’s (not sure about that). A couple weeks ago, he cracked his very first egg and learned to fry it. (It is the only thing he knows how to cook.) He was asked to pull a little of his weight by washing dishes, but after letting them sit in the sink for days, his excuse is that he has never had to touch dirty dishes and he can’t seem to bring himself to do it. We had a colorful discussion about him taking out the garbage – particularly the recycle bin which, in his opinion, needs to be larger so that he doesn’t need to make so many trips to the garage (approximately 10 paces). He won’t pick up his personal mess as he “doesn’t like doing it,” although he admits he likes it when the maids come (monthly) and clean his area. Argh! My 3-year-olds have more responsibility. He also doesn’t drive, just opened his first checking account, and has no idea how to calculate a tip. Do people really think it’s beneficial to let kids grow up with no practical abilities whatsoever?

  17. For some reason, this reminds me of an old Navy custom: “Dependents Cruise”. I was not in the Navy, but “old salts” like to tell stories, and one of them told me about the time his ship had just finished a big overhaul in San Diego. Before they send the ship back to her normal station, a test run is scheduled, and crew members can invite family members to join them and experience the ship that son, daughter, parent or spouse serves on. One colleague was obtaining passes so his mom and dad could take the cruise, and asked if he could also have one for his brother. The officer in charge said, “I think we can do that. Does he live around here?” “Yes, he’s a technician at Miramar [Naval Air Station]. The officer had a rather puzzled look, and my friend went on to say. “He’s been in the Navy for two years, and the only time he sees the ocean is when he has a day off and goes to the beach!”

  18. I think I’d be likely to trash the resume of an applicant whose parent called up to arrange their interview or negotiate their terms or who came into the building with them for interview. That’s just unprofessional. Sending a letter to parents about a person’s job offer also seems unprofessional. I’d probably resign from a place that did that (is it even legal?).

    I’ve never came across this though. I’ve had friends/colleagues reach out to me about work for their kids (and friends). But that sort of nepotism has been a long standing feature of the work place and can’t really be blamed on “helicopter parenting”.

    Providing *support* behind the scenes seems very reasonable, a savvy youngster will listen to advice from people with experience and try and apply it to their situation.

  19. Nauseating and ridiculous. Of course any young adult will consult with their parents personally about a job. But ask your parents to interfere? For me that stopped at 14 in most areas, and 18 for sure.

    Asking your parents to co-sign a student loan (your first big loan in life) is no big deal, as long as you pay it back. Asking them to fill in the form is abusrd.

    “I’m horrible at resumes and cover letters, so I always write the rough draft, then go over it with my dad for HOURS while he explains why he would phrase something differently, or leave that job off… I honestly couldn’t do it without him.”

    Then how do you do your job?!?!? I would never hire someone who admitted this. That is insane. Take a class in it. It’s a skill you, yourself, should have!

  20. A lot of these adults would probably be just average (even less), if it was not for their parents management. I don’t know why a company would ever want to hire such a person. How can a person lead a group, without their own ability to lead their own lives?

  21. That story is several years old. Oh well. Here is the correct link: http://www.forbes.com/2006/11/08/leadership-careers-jobs-lead-careers-cx_tw_1109kids.html

  22. When I was working at a non-profit, I fired people for this kind of thing.

    I had one woman barge into the office and start berating me for sending her little precious into a “dangerous” neighborhood here in Ohio for outreach (it most certainly was not ). I ignored the mother and told the employee that since they couldn’t handle the work they could pack their things and leave.

  23. @ SKL

    Wow, my 6 year old knows how to calculate a tip and take out the trash!

  24. i would have been offended if my mom had tried to do any of that (college forms, job applications, resume, etc) for me. my sibs who are 6-10 years younger than i am, however, expected her to fill out their college paperwork. she was astounded, and flat refused. she’s not a helicopter mom, and she told them if they wanted to go to college they could do the work. so far, we’ve had two out of three college age sibs get into college…and two drop outs for various reasons (in one case, “it’s too hard…”). my dad, on the other hand, used to have me proofread his resume when i was 16 or 17. he wrote it himself, but we spent several productive hours discussing minor grammar issues and what he could safely edit to avoid being too lengthy. as a result, when i finally had to write my own, i was already confident and somewhat experienced. i can’t even fathom being 20+ years old and having a parent interfere in my work or school.

  25. The link that Rob posted above makes my brain hurt. The author’s defense of this type of parental interference includes “the very rich have been doing it for years, so it’s ok.” Wow. That makes me feel better. Nepotism for everyone!

  26. Daphne Atkinson is mushing issues. Of course there is nothing wrong with having supportive people in your life, giving advice, etc. What there is something wrong with is presenting yourself as someone who cannot handle the responsibilities inherent in a job search without a parental figure doing things for you. That sends the message that you might not be able to handle relatively straightforward job responsibilities independently. Any employer who ignores that message is not being “accommodating,” they’re being foolish.

    SKL — no, it’s not, but that’s the reality of some cultures. I don’t know where your student friend is from, but friends of mine sometimes have a grad student from a very prosperous Asian country stay with them on holidays, and it’s a similar story. Servants did that stuff. The kids never had to. In this person’s case, he makes an effort, but it’s so far out of his nature and upbringing that he tends to neglect things and comes off as inconsiderate.

  27. I do the financial aid paperwork and stuff for my kids, but that’s more or less because I want it that way. I have easier access to our family’s financial information, and I don’t mind doing paperwork. But I know that my 19 yo daughter could, and would, if I simply said, “This will be your responsibility.” When she got her passport recently, she handled most of it without my help — I just did a few things that were obviously easier for me since I was in town and she wanted it taken care of during the school year. She also paid most of the fees herself.

    When it came to my three teens applying for summer jobs at the local amusement park, my nineteen-year-old handled it all herself, and my 17 and 15 year olds got a little bit of handholding on how to fill out the application, since it was the first time for each. Beyond that, they filled everything out themselves, got themselves there, and so forth. I can’t imagine being involved in the job application process of a child over 18, or beyond a first or second part-time job, except maybe in a “doing a favor” sort of way. But certainly not getting anywhere NEAR personal contact with the employer, or spending HOURS doing the thinking for them.

  28. A woman in my office spent some work time trying to track down her son’s college adviser. He told his mom he wanted to drop a class but, “didn’t know how” and he didn’t know “who his adviser was”. So she spent a good portion of her work day making calls to the school and setting up a meeting with someone at the school.

    A few weeks later the same kid borrowed his mom’s car and ran out of gas and called her asking what to do. She acted as if she was at fault, for him forgetting to look at the gas gauge. When I asked to borrow a car from my parents I remember my parents discussing which car needed a fill up more. That’s the car I got and it better come home with a reasonably full tank of gas.

  29. “Of course any young adult will consult with their parents personally about a job.”

    Really? I have never once consulted with my parents about a particular job. The thought of consulting my parents never even crossed my mind after I graduated from college. I had been an adult living completely on my own for 4 years by that time. Why would I have consulted with my parents? I also will not expect my daughter to consult with me. She can certainly ask my opinion if she wants but ultimately the decision is hers and I don’t have any expectations that I will, or should, have input.

    I also didn’t go over colleges with my parents. I decided what colleges I wanted to apply to and completed the applications myself. I understand discussing finances and what the parents can manage if the parents are paying but my parents weren’t paying so they had no say in the matter whatsoever. Once I had been accepted and narrowed it down to two schools, my mother gave me some advice but ultimately the decision was mine.

  30. Of course any young adult will consult with their parents personally about a job.

    Define “consult”?

    My 17 year-old’s “consultation” with me about a job that will have him living away from home for the entire summer consisted of “Do you know anyone who has worked for these guys? Did they think it sucked?”

    And that was that. He accepted the position, and is in the process of getting ready to spend 13 weeks away from home, working 60 – 80 hours a week at a well-known resort. He turns 18 the day before he starts work.

  31. I know this article is several years old, and I would be very interested to know if and how the situation has changed since the US economy tanked.

    Still, I’m glad Lenore posted it, because my mom and I were discussing exactly this phenomenon the other day, and she didn’t believe me. Now I can send her proof😉

    My mom and I actually discuss work a lot. We both do the same kind of work (editing), and we often rely on each other for shop talk, advice, and that evasive solution that you just don’t see because you’ve been staring at the problem text for too long. My mom has been to my office a couple of times (I’ve worked here 14 years), and I think she met my boss once. However, all of this was long after I had gone through the application and interview process on my own. I’d have died of embarrassment if she’d tried to involve herself in any of it (not that she would).

    I’ve never had anyone bring a parent to an interview, or anything of that sort. I have, however, had several employees who were recent university graduates living with their parents and spending their salaries on gas, clothes, and going out drinking. I know my industry doesn’t pay very well, but I’m a lot less sympathetic to those people when they complain they aren’t paid enough😛 Oh, and there was that young woman who used to yell at her mom on the phone (so that the entire department could hear her) for forgetting to record TV shows on the VCR as requested. And the one who burst into tears when she was asked why she keeps coming in late and leaving early, and said she hadn’t been doing it on purpose, she just never notices what time she comes in. And the ones who trash-talked my boss and/or the department and/or the company in their exit interviews, then e-mailed to ask for job references. I know professional behaviour has to be learned like anything else, but …

  32. @ Donna – great points, totally agree!

    My mom has never been involved in any job I interviewed for or worked, even babysitting @ 11 or 12. She’s never arranged for an apartment, utilities, or any loans beyond cosigning the one for my very first car. I had my own car insurance policy at 18, and made my own doctor/dentist appointments from age 15 on. She was never involved in my schooling beyond signing report cards. All this? I LOVED IT this way and it made me very responsible.

    I encourage my 10-yr-old the same way. She has a savings account and knows how to maintain it. After 3rd grade, I stopped checking homework and let her know I would always help, but only if asked. She has a calendar in her room that she keeps all her extracurriculars and birthday parties and such on. This summer, I’m planning to teach her how to do her own laundry. She’s decided that when she turns 12, she wants to start babysitting for $. It’s an ongoing thing…as she can handle more responsibility, we give it to her. We’re involved in her life and have excellent and open communication. (So far! I know she’ll be a teen soon! *sigh*)

    After reading that article, it’s no wonder I have coworkers who call their moms 10 times a day over things like what they had for lunch and should they move to a different apartment and their boss can be so unfair and what should they take for a head cold? And one’s mom calls her every morning to make sure she’s not late for work! For goodness sake, these are 25-35 year olds!!!

  33. >A defense of the helicoptering…
    >
    >http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2007/05/08/helicopter-parents-challenge-our-assumptions-about-rank-and-class/

    The main argument here seems to be that “the rich have been doing this for years, and we don’t mind, so why not the middle class, too?” But I sort of do mind, and I don’t think the answer is to spread the practice to other classes–it’s for the upper classes to back off a little and let their children learn how to be adults, too.

  34. I had a store manager once who instantly threw out any application for anyone whose parent either picked up or dropped off their application. I think this is a perfectly reasonable policy since anyone who doesn’t care enough about the job to handle their own application very likely won’t care enough to do a good job (or even show up for work). It’s really too bad that more employers don’t follow suit.

  35. The main argument here seems to be that “the rich have been doing this for years, and we don’t mind, so why not the middle class, too?” But I sort of do mind, and I don’t think the answer is to spread the practice to other classes–it’s for the upper classes to back off a little and let their children learn how to be adults, too.

    I don’t sort of mind. I mind A LOT!

    My husband and I were recently berated by an acquaintance when I had mentioned that my son had cooked dinner the night before. (He’s a culinary student, so he does this often.) We got a ten minute lecture about how it’s our job to take care of his needs, rather than the other way ’round, and she bet we had him do his own laundry, too!

    Why, yes, yes we do insist that both boys lend a hand with laundry, gardening, yard work, housework, pet care, grocery shopping, kitchen tasks and all manner of things that responsible people need to know how to do. My first roommate in college was completely helpless, and I knew I never wanted my kids to be like that.

  36. “I know this article is several years old, and I would be very interested to know if and how the situation has changed since the US economy tanked.”

    I knew I should have checked the date on it. I saw the line about “tightening labor market” and was confused, and thought, “Well, maybe they mean the way the unemployment rate is now inching downward?” But gee, if I’d looked at the DATE….duh.

  37. I think families will work things differently. Whether or not you give your 12 year old a leg up on her first babysitting jobs probably depends on a lot of things, some of which are just fine, or even positive depending on your circumstances.

    But that’s just a whole different ball of wax than a 22 year old with a college degree needing a parent to run interference with human resources for a fulltime professional job. Not only is it foolish behavior on the part of the parent, it objectively makes your kid a bad potential employee.

  38. To me, it’s just scary that we even have to have this conversation. I can’t imagine in my wildest dreams my parents trying to influence my employer in any way – even when I was a 10-year-old babysitter. If I asked for advice re how to do my job better or deal with my boss (as a teen/young adult), my parents would offer their wisdom, just like we discussed other normal, day-to-day things.

  39. I just had a shaky start at a new job. I am unable to drive due to a physical disability and mentioned being dropped off by mom because it was pouring rain on my 1st day. This made bike riding impractical which has gotten me to work on time every day since. I recovered from the impression of not able to handle myself by later stating that I often watch after my blind 90 year old dad.

  40. “The main argument here seems to be that “the rich have been doing this for years, and we don’t mind, so why not the middle class, too?”

    The author of the article is totally missing the mark. There is a major difference between helping your child network (what most of the rich truly do) and actually drafting the resumes, going to the interviews, following up and negotiating the employment package. We are far from rich but every job that I had prior to college was working for someone I knew through my parents. But my parents didn’t get me the job. My parents’ friend mentioned that they were looking for someone and my parent mentioned that I was looking for a job and told me about the position. I had to actually contact the employer and get the job myself!

    I don’t believe that we need to just let our young adults struggle as if they are completely alone in the world. If my daughter is looking for a job in a particular field and I know someone in that field, I’ll call and ask about any opportunities. What I won’t do is: demand that my friend hire my child, draft and send the resume, attend the interview and yell at the employer if my child doesn’t get the job. I also won’t take any part in my child attempting to get a job at a place where I have no contacts. I’m not going to call the HR department of some random company to ask about my child’s application.

  41. I used to have a subordinate who had gotten her job the way Donna described. Basically she was the daughter of a big client. Her intelligence and work ethic were average at best, and her selfish, ruthless personality was frankly not redeemable. She had to take the exam to be licensed in our profession EIGHT times before finally passing it. Her being there was a huge demotivator for colleagues who were smarter and more deserving. I am sure there are nice people who get their jobs that way too, but based on my experience, I would certainly never give a person more “consideration” just because of a biological connection she happened to have. And, I would be wary that someone else in the decision process may have been unduly influenced, even if I had not. So if you want your child to work for me, please do NOT call me and tell me that. If someone in my office gets a job that way, I can assure you that they will earn respect/raises/promotions only by working from the ground up.

  42. “But based on my experience, I would certainly never give a person more “consideration” just because of a biological connection she happened to have.”

    No, but what if her parent was a friend AND someone whose judgment you respected? It’s foolish to hire the incompetent child of a “big client.” It’s not foolish to give a slight advantage to the well-qualified child of someone you know has brought up their kids to be independent and hard-working.

    While I agree that nepotism can be bad, it troubles me when the opposite tack is taken so that your own friends and acquaintances have LESS credibility as references or networking sources than total strangers.

  43. IOW, Donna’s right. There’s just a lot of ground between a “sink or swim, give less help than I would to my neighbor’s kid,” and “conduct the job search process FOR my kid.”

  44. When my son was 14, I took him to McDonalds’s to apply for his first job. I met the manager, left and he did his interview and got his first job. When he would go to work for the first few days, he asked me to stay because he was so nervous. He suffers from a learning disability so he needs extra help and I explained it to the management. They were all great with him. He worked there 4 1/2 years and they still remember me when I go in. I didn’t hover or help, but he was reassured I was there reading the paper. He now works for a major food corporation and makes $36,000 a year, has a brand new car and wonderful girlfriend and looking to buy his first house. I didn’t hover, I was just “available”!!!

  45. If I had a friend who had a really bright kid, I would still want that kid to go through what everyone else goes through to get a job. Working for me might not even be in her best interest. Why not send her out there to see what she can do on her own? The point is, that is actually good for the kid. Let her feel like this is something SHE did, not something she inherited. Most people I know would much rather have pride in one’s own achievement over ease of getting gainful employment.

  46. As for the companies that encourage this kind of behavior, I think we should consider ulterior motives here. It seems that a lot of the less ethical employers have been enjoying the tighter job market for giving them their pick of “yes-men” as something *preferable* to independent thinkers. Honestly, I think they’re hoping that the helplessness factor will be transferred to them, and mama’s little babies will just shut up and do what they are told, right or wrong.

    Of course, I may be jaded after just leaving my third job in a row where I was under the so-called leadership of flamingly narcissistic executives who NEVER wanted anyone to think too hard, lest they notice the employee mistreatment and various unethical (and sometimes illegal) practices they were engaging in. Still, if I applied to a company that encouraged that level of dependency, I’d run like hell.

  47. @SKL – You’re kinda missing the point. I did get the job myself. My mother just told me that the job was available. I called. I talked the person into hiring me instead of the other people applying. And it was a high school job working as a cashier in a leather store, not my chosen career path.

    There is still a bit of “who you know” involved in many jobs, particularly in this economy. Nobody is proposing that it’s proper to insist that someone hire your child or that the child should jump the normal hiring procedures (unless your a helicopter parent). I would expect my child to go through the regular application and interview process and prove herself hirable. But knowing someone will at least get your resume looked at when the hiring person probably has at least 500 resumes on his desk for any one entry level position. 90% of the people hired at my office are there because there was a job opening and someone told a friend and provided that friend’s resume to boss. All had to go through the hiring process and all have been great employees once hired (and we’ve turned down a several so it’s not an automatic in).

  48. I started my first job fresh out of college last June. My mom and I happened on the posting for my position almost simultaneously and so she emailed it to me to be sure I saw it, and my parents paid for my plane ticket to get me to my now-office for my second interview. They helped me moved, paid firsts month’s rent and bought me new furniture… but that’s it.

    I loop them in on my salary, benefits, and 401K because these things are still mostly new to me — my jobs in high school we all on hourly wages, no benefits. I’ve got questions about saving for retirement and my benefits that my HR manager *can’t* answer, so I seek their advice. But setting up my own interview? Seriously? Is it that hard for kids my age to respond to an email or phone call asking for an interview? Yeesh.

    On a side note, I wouldn’t mind it if my office offered a parent’s night — I know we’re too small of an organization to really do that, but we have a young staff and a large group of interns and I think it’d be a fun excuse for my parents to come visit me for the first time jointly. I’m in a new city, they’re interested in knowing about where I’m working, I’ve already brought my mother to the office after hours just so she could see it — why not make it organized? It doesn’t have to be about “Here are junior’s wages, here’s our office hours, policies, etc” but more of an opportunity for them to check out their kid’s new community.

  49. This sort of reminds me of an article I read: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/18/education/18college.html

    The gist of the article was that college students pretty much felt they deserved a “B” just for showing up to lectures….nevermind the quality of work they produced. Or their ability to think critically about the coursework.

    Think then, about the workers this would produce. I would really like a job that would pay me for just showing up (and sleeping, as I have seen in many lecture halls).

    It is somewhat disturbing.

  50. Donna, that’s fine if you got the job that way, but there are other ways of getting your resume noticed. I would rather teach my kids about how to do this without help. For example, I was taught the importance of a well-written cover letter sent to the right person, and a follow-up phone call (from the candidate!). Doing both of those things can easily get you within the top 5% -10% of the candidates. Assuming yo have a relevant academic record, there’s a good chance you will get the interview, and then you’ll have a chance to really show your stuff. You may not get your first-choice job, but that’s not the end of the world – refer to Lenore’s recent article about the benefits of letting kids/young adults fail and learn from their mistakes.

    What some folks fail to consider here is that it’s good to have to fight for what you want. The interview process is a great place to hone skills that will be needed throughout one’s career. Why would parents want to water it down? So they can have bragging rights? To avoid the “shame” of having offspring with human failings? Or is it because they have no faith in their kids’ ability to do what most others do?

  51. Crazy. I would have never expected my parents to be that involved in my life past the age of, say, 14. My mom went with me to get my books and high school ID (since she had to pay for the stuff) and that was the end of that. I didn’t even consult her on what classes to take in the other years.
    I decided which colleges I wanted to apply to (which ended up being just the one), filled out the application and sent it in. I did have my dad fill out the financial aid stuff since it was based on his income (I filled out the stuff about myself, etc, though, he just inputted the numbers).
    They came with me the first day of freshman orientation since I didn’t have a car and they were driving me and my stuff 350 miles to school. They helped me get my stuff to my room then looked around campus a bit (without me). The next morning they took me to breakfast and then left with these words, ” get a loan (which I hadn’t thought to do up to that point, lol) and get a job (which I hadn’t had before college). By the end of the week I had filled out loan applications and was working my first ever job in one of the cafeterias.
    My roommates’ parents all hung around the entire week and they all cried on the phone to their mom’s by the 2nd day because they were so lonely and scared. I didn’t even get my long distance hooked up until 3 weeks later (so I couldn’t call home at all).
    By the end of the first semester of the next year I was living in my own apartment. The only thing my parents did for me was set up my phone (since I didn’t have one and couldn’t call to get it hooked up, lol). My dad also paid for the long distance since the only person I ever called was my mom. I took care of everything else.
    I just can imagine them doing more then that and I can’t imagine doing more then that for my own kids. In fact, from stories I’ve heard online, I expect more responsibility from my 9yo then many parents expect from a recent high school graduate (and, yes, my 7, 8 and 9 year olds do their own laundry and are learning to cook for themselves and have been getting their own breakfasts and lunches since they were like 4 years old).
    I would consider myself negligent as a parent if my kids could not handle getting their own job or filling out a college application.

  52. I’d hire if she/he were very young, in terms of the job. It’s really not a 17-year-old kid’s fault than Mom and Dad are over-involved at that point.

    But I’d make it clear that this sort of behavior isn’t something that reflects well on the employee, and hope the kid knows how to take a hint and cut the strings.

    I would feel less kindly disposed toward a 25-year-old who doesn’t know how to keep Mommy and Daddy’s support out of sight, though. If nothing else, it undermines morale with the other employees.

  53. “Really? I have never once consulted with my parents about a particular job. The thought of consulting my parents never even crossed my mind after I graduated from college.”

    Donna, most people get jobs while in middle- and high-school. Not after college. So they need to consult with their parents about rides and whether or not they still have to do a particular chore which the job interferes with. I was not thinking of post-college jobs, although I did tell my mom I was applying for Peace Corps. Is that consulting?

  54. My mommy showed up at my job with the lunch I forgot one day. I moved out of the house shortly after that.

  55. “Donna, that’s fine if you got the job that way, but there are other ways of getting your resume noticed. I would rather teach my kids about how to do this without help.”

    Here’s what I don’t get. Yes, it’s good to teach your kids to find their way without depending on you. But if your best friend came to you and mentioned that she was going to apply for a job at your cousin’s company, and you actually believed that your best friend was someone who would do the job well and responsibly, would you not even call your cousin and put in a good, honest word (and then drop it)? If not, that seems strange to me, and if so, it seems strange to draw the line at not doing something for your kids, that you WOULD do for someone else, just to teach them to be “independent.”

  56. Every job I have looked for in my life, I have done so on my own. That includes high school. No, wait… I babysat for some of my parent’s friends, but it was up to ME to schedule them and negotiate payment. They would give rides because I was too young to drive, but that was about it. In fact, I was the better writer in my house, I wrote my DAD’S resume, not the other way around. Also, my mom is hard of hearing, so I usually made and received some pretty adult phone calls. Having said that, I can’t imagine what she would say if I asked her to check something out for me… probably some variant of “your arms/legs/jaw broke?” If I were a hiring manager, even if it were for a joe job, I would absolutely disqualify any kid who didn’t at least appear to be doing their own work in applying.

  57. Pentamom, I think there’s a fine line between “networking” and “doing it for your kid.” Sure, in the scenario you described, call your acquaintance and put in a good word. That’s the essence of networking. It’s helping but not doing it for someone. I’ve already done that. My bagpipe teacher’s son was looking for a summer job, and I forwarded his resume to my husband and he tried to get him something with his employer. I still made it clear to him that I would get him in the door, but it was up to him to do follow up emails and whatnot, because my husband’s employer isn’t hiring me, they’re hiring him.

  58. No – absolutely not. I manage a large pediatric clinic and had a voice mail message earlier this week. The mother gave her name and phone number and then “my daughter just finished her CNA training and is looking for a job, do you have any openings?” Um, no. Not interested in that person at all.

  59. I worked a food service job in high school at 15, a year before I could get my license. My boss at that job did insist on hearing from a parent that either it was my responsibility to find a way to and from work or that they were completely on board with driving me. He said he had gotten the “my parents won’t take me in today” excuse too many times. Fair enough, but of course that’s a COMPLETELY different situation than being a college grad, etc.

  60. “Donna, that’s fine if you got the job that way, but there are other ways of getting your resume noticed. I would rather teach my kids about how to do this without help. ”

    Um, networking is the way that your kids will get most of their adult jobs throughout their lives. Well-written cover letters and follow-ups should also be taught but your well-written cover letter and follow ups are just one of 500 well-written cover letters and follow ups that the employer will receive for any job (particularly right now). The vast majority of them will go in the trash unread – sorry but employers don’t read all the cover letters and resumes they receive; they stop reading as soon as they have enough qualified people to interview. If they hit their max for interviews before getting to your cover letter, yours doesn’t get read. It doesn’t matter if your cover letter was the best cover letter ever written in the history of cover letters if it doesn’t get read now does it? And cover letters that come from someone known to the hiring person will always get read.

    No man is an island. I want my kid to be a mature, responsible, independent adult. I don’t think that I need to completely set her adrift and do nothing for her for her to be these things. I’m not going to hold her hand and do the work for her but if an email from me will get someone to at least read her qualifications, I see no problem with that. That is the essence of networking. And, as pentamom said, I’d do the same thing for my friends or friend’s kids.

    And failing is great. My kid may not get the job that she really wants and will learn from that. But her resume sitting in the unread stack for months just because of bad luck on when it was received doesn’t teach her anything. My refusing to do for her what I would do for a friend doesn’t teach her anything (except maybe mom is a b*tch). She would learn something from knowing that her resume was looked at but she still didn’t get an interview. She will learn something from getting the interview and still failing to get the job. Those kinds of failures teach. Being left unread in the bottom of the pile just teaches you that you need to be luckier.

  61. My husband works for the unemployment office. It amazes him how often parents of adults try to be the ones to deal with his questions. He legally can’t do that unless he has signed paperwork for it or if they’re underage. But many try anyhow.

  62. Something Penelope (the defense of hover parenting author) is failing to recognise is that by claiming middle class parents are just doing what rich parents do she is perpetuating an even wider gap between the low and middle income populations. It’s rather amusing considering her main argument. Fine to baby middle income kids, but those low income kids with parents who don’t know how to set up interviews for them can just fend for themselves.

  63. […] Would You Hire An Employee with a Helicopter Parent? Hi Readers! Wow. I’d heard anecdotes about this… guess it’s really true: Some parents are hovering, […] […]

  64. OK, so now I’m a bitch. Look, isn’t it clear by now (from many of the above comments) that not all employers will look favorably at a candidate whose parents get involved in the recruiting process? So how are you so sure that you’d be doing your kid a favor by doing that? Furthermore, what makes you think your kid deserves to be treated better than the other candidates whose resumes are also in that pile of 500? Surely you believe your kid is exceptional. All parents do! That is exactly why parents are not welcome in the process. There is no such thing as an unbiased parent (or parent’s friend).

    You are confusing networking with meddling. A network needs to be developed by each young person, based on his own interests, social skills, and reciprocal kindnesses. It is just as wrong for a parent to do his offspring’s networking as to do his interviewing. If you want your kid to benefit from a network, teach him the importance of networking, and how to do it, and how to think beyond his own bubble.

    It must amaze some parents that the majority of successful employees have managed to get where they are without any involvement by their parents past high school. It is not “easy,” but at least they begin learning the ropes from day one. In the long run, they may be more successful, assuming they don’t work for those elitist firms where they are afraid to run afoul of the “old boys’ club.”

  65. SKL – I’m with you in theory. Networking for people you only know in a personal capacity is, when successful, nepotism which hurts meritocratic processes. (I see a big distinction between this and recommendations made by people who have actually worked with the person they recommend).

    But I’m not with you in terms of what I’d *do* for my kids. Because although I was put off by people asking me to look at the resume of a friend or relative (or, worse yet, a co-alum) whom the recommender had never worked with, most of the other hiring managers I’ve known in the US were not.

    As someone coming from the UK I was pretty shocked at the level of nepotism I saw when I started being involved in hiring in the US. But now I see it as an embedded practice that means my kids could have a much harder than average chance of getting a job if I didn’t participate. So I’d work to eradicate it in a place I worked at, but until the culture changes more I’d do it for my kids.

  66. “It is just as wrong for a parent to do his offspring’s networking as to do his interviewing.”

    And I simply don’t agree that a parent with a good reputation can’t be as much of a part of his network as the guy down the street. What I’m assuming here is that you give an honest report about your child, whom you’ve observed for 20-whatever years, and have concluded is worthy of your good reference. I’m not suggesting doing it just because it’s your kid. So you’re not networking FOR your kid, you’re being a legitimate part OF the network he’s developed and earned.

    IOW, I’d do for my kid what I’d do for someone else — not less.

  67. And, BTW, I’m not talking about calling an employer up and “getting your kid the job.” Or scheduling the interview. Or doing the followup calls. Or thinking that because I’m a grownup, I can do for him what he can’t.

    I’m talking about being a voluntary reference, as someone who has a reputation with the employer and a favorable impression of the job candidate, who happens to be my kid AFTER the kid has sent in the resume and cover letter. And then ending involvement at that point.

  68. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on this. I think we agree that those whose parents will do this for them will have different opportunities than those whose parents won’t. Different, not necessarily better. As for me, I trust that my kids have the ability to speak for themselves and compete for those jobs where independent thought is valued.

    By the way, there might be some reason my last job (before I semi-retired) had me well into the top 1% of earners in the country. Could it be my parents’ complete lack of involvement with my employment relationships? Hmm.

  69. I am a current Sophomore in college, so my opinion will be of debate here:

    My college has gotten so sick of helicopter parents that there’s an actual form the student has to fill out and sign before any teachers are allowed to discuss grades/attendance/anything with anyone but the student. I’ve had three roommates, and the only one who didn’t go home weekly (or bi-weekly) to have laundry done took it all to the dry-cleaner. One roommate talked to her parents at least daily, another had their parents call to wake them up and checked in on her at least thrice a day.

    I do my laundry. I haven’t failed a class yet, and I’m keeping it that way by seeing a tutor that I arranged for and meeting with the teacher at times I arrange (something half the class doesn’t know how to do, both of them). I call my parents twice a week, more to check on them than anything else, because I’ve fed the dogs/vacuumed/etc. for so many years they might forget. I have my teacher’s respect, my classmates all know me by name (even three semesters later, when I’m left going ‘wait, who are you?’), and two of my professors have offered to recommend me a job at the library next semester, when I haven’t asked or expressed interest in it yet.

    I think that’s all the evidence I need.

  70. I think we disagree only slightly, SKL. I’m not saying it’s generally healthy for parents to lobby for jobs. I just wouldn’t carve out an exception of “who I want putting in a good word for me” so that my parents could never, EVER do it for me. I’ve seen my husband put in a good word for friends an acquaintances at his own work place — and it’s his reputation that’s going on the line there as much as anything if those friends and acquaintances should turn out to be losers. I think it could work the same way for our kids (not that such a situation is terribly likely given his line of work.) I’m not assuming the good word will be an automatic “in,” or that pressure is being put on anyone to make the hire, or that the kid doesn’t have to earn the job on his own merits. I’m just talking about including parents in the network, as positive references, when the parent knows the employer and the employer has reason to trust the parent’s judgment. I think in almost every other respect we agree — genuine nepotism isn’t healthy, kids should learn to navigate the job search on their own, Dad shouldn’t call all his buddies looking for jobs for his kids, etc.

  71. The thing is, Pentamom, parents can’t give an unbiased reference for their kids, and employers know this. So what is the point, other than to apply pressure?

  72. Enough already, SKL and Pentamom. Please!

  73. Joe, do you think that added to the discussion?

  74. Excuse me, Joe, what do you find objectionable about our discussion? I think it is amicable and on topic. I’m sorry if it doesn’t interest you.

    SKL, I think a “point” would simply be to get noticed, as others have been mentioned. Just one more little “nudge” to have the resume given a second look. But I do think that’s different from pressure.

    I understand why you differ and I think you make a lot of good points. I just don’t want to draw the line as sharply and absolutely as you do. I think there CAN BE situations where such an action CAN BE legitimate, though I admit that in many cases it would be unwise for the very reasons you say. Maybe Joe can be happy that we appear to understand one another now. 😉

  75. Yes, Penamom, I 100% agree with your 1st and last sentence. And I mostly agree with the rest. I even agree that there are some times when a mom “knows” it helps to put in a good word. And I’ll even go one further and admit to having said a good word or two (or two hundred) about my kids over the years. But, some of the comments, e.g., I’d be a bitch not to do it because then my kids will never be considered for a job, were not within my view of reality.

    Bottom line – struggle is fundamental to developing strength. As mean as it sounds, I don’t want my kids’ life to be easy. I really mean that. I want them to struggle, but to have faith in themselves and fight the good fight. Because I know how good it feels to win that fight.

  76. My first summer job – Dad drove with me to the interview. I had not driven downtown much and had told him I planned to leave very early in case I got lost. So were were supposed to do a dry run that weekend.

    Unfortunately instead of dry we had flooding all weekend. So Monday, Dad rode with me in part because some streets were still flooded. He did not come in with me.

    For the job I have know – a cousin picked up the application. I was planning on moving back to Houston from West Texas. I had a calendar of all the Job Fairs the school districts were having. I remembered this district at the last minute. I found out they were having their job fair on Friday that Wednesday. The downloaded application was not working. (I tried 4 different computers)

    I didn’t want to be a Special Snowflake and ask them to overnight it to me. I thought that would be a bad impression. So I called a cousin that lived near by. She went in picked up a teacher application and overnighted it to me.

    Honestly if an employer doesn’t have their application on line, I don’t see a problem with area relatives picking up applications and sending them to relatives that live in a different area. Especially say college students looking for summer jobs at home. Those types of jobs aren’t going to want to mail the applications.

  77. @ SKL – I didn’t say you were a bitch. I, personally, would feel like a bitch if I was refusing to do for my own child what I would do for someone else’s child.

    I don’t think I’m confusing networking and meddling at all. We are talking about forwarding a resume, not asking for an interview or a job. I probably wouldn’t even necessarily go as far as to recommend my kid for the job. I’d simply forward the resume and cover letter and ask my contact within the company take a look and forward it to the person in charge of hiring. End of story. I would do the same exact thing for anyone else I knew and believed was a decent person.

    And many employers actually WANT to hire from within their circle, even if it is somewhat removed. I think that there is comfort in that person not being as unknown as someone who just walks in off the street. Further, there’s a bit of, all things being equal, let’s hire the person from within our circle simply because they’re within our circle. Faced with two candidates that are equal, employers will almost always hire the one who comes from within the periphery of the company. If I have a contact that let’s my kid come from within, great. She still has to prove that she is equal to every other candidate before she can get the job. Sometimes she will; sometimes she won’t.

    I think there is just a fundamental difference in views. I don’t necessarily want my child’s life to be easy. I don’t necessarily want it to be hard. I certainly don’t feel that I need to do less for her than I would do for others just so that she builds character, particularly once she’s an independent adult living on her own. I also don’t feel that she needs to do everything on her own to make it her fight. Everyone gets help from someone along the way. I hope that my daughter grows a great network and is able to get alot of help in her fight but I don’t think that I need to be totally separate from that network for her to still be an independent woman. I very much consider my parents and my parent’s friends as part of my network and my parent’s consider me and my friends as part of theirs. Just last week my mother called and asked me to help a friend of hers who I’ve never met so it now goes both ways.

  78. Donna, you are changing your tune. This is what you said before:

    ” . . . every job that I had prior to college was working for someone I knew through my parents. But my parents didn’t get me the job. My parents’ friend mentioned that they were looking for someone and my parent mentioned that I was looking for a job and told me about the position. I had to actually contact the employer and get the job myself!

    I don’t believe that we need to just let our young adults struggle as if they are completely alone in the world. If my daughter is looking for a job in a particular field and I know someone in that field, I’ll call and ask about any opportunities. . . .”

    Your tone suggested that in your opinion, it should be assumed that a young candidate can’t successfully find a good job on his own, so help from parents is essential. I’m saying that that’s akin to telling your child “you can’t, let me help you” about something he actually can do. Did you tell your daughter “you can’t ride a bike without training wheels” or “let’s buy velcro since you can’t learn to tie laces”? To me, telling your offspring (or implying by your actions) that they need your involvement in the job search is just as bad.

    Would I pass along my kid’s resume to a specific contact if asked? Sure. But I would not suggest or initiate it, and I sure wouldn’t be calling around asking people if they have a job my daughter can do. She can pick up the phone herself. It will do her good.

  79. There appears to be an expectation that parents will be helicopter parents.

    I am in my early 20s. I am a university student. I have a partner I have been with for a number of years. I work to fund the little things like rent and food and running costs of my car.

    To rent, as we were students, most places required a parent signature. This is despite my 5years of rental history, and the offer to pay six months rent in advance.

    My university required a parental signature on my application form.

    Some tutors will automatically tell us “Talk to your parents about xyz.”

    It got so bad I asked the university to change my status to “mature age entry”, meaning I could avoid the parental consent forms.

    When it comes up I require parental signatures I have a tendency to say my parents are either dead or I have no contact with them.

    Not true. Just my parents believe in the free range philosophy. I have been living out of home since 17, and I am not about to go running to “mummy and daddy” over every little thing.
    I know when times are tough they will help me out (like when I spent a month in hospital in my second year of uni, right after I had had to pay new bond and pay for massive car repairs. They lent me money to cover my rent for a fortnight, I paid them back, with interest, a month later).
    I don’t WANT to go running to them for every little thing, but sometimes it seems like the world expects me to!

    Oh, I didn’t exactly consult them about my career choice either. More informed them that this is what I wanted to do.
    And as for my various jobs I do now, I think my parents are probably aware of about half of them. Just hasn’t come up.

  80. Yes I agree with Donna…

  81. child n. , pl. , children . A person between birth and puberty. A person who has not attained maturity or the age of legal majority.

    I loved how the article referred to the 20 somethings as children. The writer was dead on. Maybe, someday, they’ll be adults! The “new 40” will be coming out of their shell rather than over the hill.

  82. Ali: My thoughts exactly. My kids will always be my “kids,” but I hope I will also remember that when they hit 18, they will be adults.

    When I was 20, my dad and I were both taking different English classes with a particular college professor. Imagine my sense of outrage when she went to my dad and commented to him about how I was doing in her class. My dad was struggling so much in Composition, he didn’t dare question her, but it felt weird to him too. A similar incident occurred with a prof that both my mom and brother were studying with. “Why did your son miss his exam?” Except my mom was less afraid to show her outrage. Seriously! 18 is the age of majority, and college is supposed to be for adults.

    But then again, when my mom got married at 17, she was referred to as “the infant” and my dad, then 19, was in control of “the infant” until she reached, I believe, 21. How she seethed over that! She bought her first house at 19 (with no parental involvement), ha ha!

  83. My parents never helped me with anything job-related, except in high school when they’d refer me to a friend who needed someone to work part-time in their business. And honestly, they never helped me with my homework, either, because I didn’t need it. People are so shocked when they hear this ….I didn’t WANT my parents to help me. The one time my father did help me, turns out that he gave me the wrong “help” and I got all of the answers wrong on that assignment.

  84. Well…depends on their age I guess🙂

  85. “I loved how the article referred to the 20 somethings as children.”

    The second definition is one’s own offspring. How would you refer to a person’s offspring repeatedly in an article without the rather cold, biological term “offspring,” or awkwardly repeating “son or daughter, son or daughter” throughout?

    “Children” doesn’t always imply childhood. People use the word every day to imply adults of someone’s descent.

  86. Okay, there’s kids, but that’s still generally considered an informal colloquialism. “Children” is perfectly acceptable as a word for adult offspring.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: