December 2, 2021

Helicopter Parents: Are You Hovering Over the Workplace?

It’s that time of year. College seniors from around the world are graduating, and they are hitting the career world looking for a job. And the interesting thing is that most are not doing it alone. Many parents are by their Gen Y’s side and not just for support and to be a sounding board. If you are a helicopter parent who is hovering over your adult child’s job hunt and interview process, you may be hurting your child’s professional development and their chances to land the job.

Helicopter parents have not only been bombarding college campuses, they are now flying way too close to the workplace. Parents are now involved in the hiring and interview process and calling HR departments to negotiate terms for their children or to berate them for not giving their sons or daughters an offer. Parents believe they are doing their child a favor, but this behavior can actually stunt a child’s adult development and hamper their ability to think and survive on their own. The hovering is also hurting the young adult’s chances to land the job, as employers roll their eyes and pull their hair out over the barage of phone calls from parents making demands, negotiating salaries and grilling them about benefits.

Don’t get me wrong…I do believe that parents have their place in the interview process, but this hovering and coddling has to stop, and most Gen Y’s are begging for their independence.

If you are a parent, here are a few ways you can help:

1) Become an outside advisor to your child to help him or her understand the total compensation package.  Talk needs, values and future goals and discuss the package in relationship to those desires.

2) Practice interviews with your child. Allow your adult child to role play both the interview candidate and the interviewer. Ask tough questions and give feedback to help strengthen your child’s interview skills.

3) Resist the urge to contact your child’s potential employer (this can actually hurt his or her chances of landing the job.) Let your adult child be the one to follow up with the recruiter and the hiring leader. This will help him or her develop the independence and confidence needed to navigate the business world.

4) Serve as a sounding board only during the interview process. Allow your child to talk, ask questions and “vent” if needed.

5) Take your young adult on a shopping day to advise on an interview wardrobe. Your adult child will have questions about what to wear for the interview (I am going through this right now with my 20-year old twins.)

If you are an employer who is being challenged by helicopter parents:

1) The helicopter parent is here. If you try to fight it, you may encounter more difficulties along the way.

2) As an employer, you will need to decide if you are going to allow helicopter parents in the door.   If you decide that you do not want to engage with the helicopter parent, you will need to enforce privacy policies from the top to the bottom of the organization.

3) Develop a packet which includes company information and a letter which details out your interview process.   During the interview, ask the young adult if they want company information sent to anyone. 

4) Host a conference call during the hiring process with the parents (if wanted only). Make this known upfront (that this is the one time that parents are allowed into the hiring process and discourage other contact in a professional way such as saying “We offer a conference call for parents before the second interview. Due to the large volume of interviews, we would like to request that you use this time to ask all questions regarding your child’s future employment.”)

5) Create a specific website just for parents which includes company information, information about interviews, dress code and a list of FAQs.  Outline in detail the hiring, review and firing process for parents. Be specific. This will prevent misunderstandings later..

Is Gen Y Really All That Narcissistic?

Great post from February by Tammy Erickson on Harvard Business Review 

Here is my comment in response:

Wonderful post Tammy.

I have interviewed over 100 Generation Y business leaders and entrepreneurs over the last 18 months, and I am a mother of three Generation Y young adults.  I have found each Gen Y I have spoken with to be giving, civic minded and quite caring for their peers and our world.  They are craving mentoring and guidance from adults, and many are hiring older, wiser mentors to meet that need.

As a parent, I am the first to admit that I raised my children on a healthy dose of self esteem and praise, as many Gen Yers have.  My question is “Isn’t this what we all want?”  Simply because Gen Y has been vocal about what they need and want in career and life doesn’t make them narcissistic.  In my opinion, it makes them quite smart.

I believe that we need Gen Y’s self esteem, creativity and technological savvy to guide us into the future.  And, I believe that Gen Y’s confidence may be just what we need to navigate the rocky roads we are traveling right now in our world..

Boomers’ hope: That the kids are all right in USA Today

There is a great article in USA Today from this past week:

Boomers’ hope: That the kids are all right

As always when these articles appear, I noticed some comments by people calling Generation Y lazy (my hunch is this is a Boomer or a Gen X calling Gen Y’s lazy). I believe that we can emotionally support our children by stopping this name calling. With the Millennial Leaders project, we interviewed multiple Generation Y business leaders who are working very hard and who are giving back to the world through establishing non profits and working for organizations like the Peace Corps and Teach for America (if you want to be inspired, read the chapters in our book on Mari Moss and Nathan Rothstein).

So to call these kids lazy is perpetuating a stereotype that feeds a negative message to these young men and women. As a parent of 3 Gen Y’s, I believe that by instilling a sense of contribution back to society and by teaching them that to spend money, you must be willing to work to earn it (right now, that’s the way our economy works…money is a medium of exchange, and it does not grow on trees). And, along the way, we can help our kids build emotional muscles by teaching them that mistakes and failure (let them be late for work, let them make a bad grade) are a part of maturing into adulthood.

Finally, the invention of cell phones and e-mail are not helping this situation with over-involved parents. As parents, we need to resist the urge to pick up the phone at the drop of a hat. It sends the message that we will always be there to bail our kids out, and to be honest…they don’t want this. They are telling us to stop calling their college campuses and their employers. So, as a boomer to other boomers, we can do something about this, and we can start by taking responsibility for helping create this worry and doubt by always giving our kids a pillow to land softly..

Helicopter Parents

I have had several people ask me about helicopter parents.

Here is what Dr. Carolyn Martin has to say in chapter 4 of Millennial Leaders.

“Gen Yers are still a huge latchkey generation, but their parents are much more involved. You’ve heard about “helicopter parents” who hover over their son’s or daughter’s every decision? What courses should they take? What positions should they apply for? What 401-K plan should they sign up for? I don’t have a problem with savvy parents offering savvy advice to young adults. My concern is with “paratrooper parents” who don’t just hover; they swoop down and intervene. They’re writing the resumes, going on interviews, fighting with managers about their child’s less than stellar performance evaluations. That’s not real caring; that’s caretaking. And it not only delays maturity, but it weakens problem-solving and decision-making abilities. The managers of the world would love it if the Baby Boomers would just back off and let these young adults make their own mistakes, fight their own battles, negotiate their own terms, and learn from the process.”

Here are some other great resources on the topic:

Make Room For Daddy……..And Mommy: Helicopter Parents Are Here!  by Judith Hunt

Do Helicopter Moms Do More Harm Than Good by ABC News

Putting Parents in Their Place:  Outside Class by the Washington Post

Helicopter parents hover when kids job hunt


The Dynasty Starts in Sixth Grade

We have talked a bit about helicopter parents.  This story in U.S. News and World Report takes the cake!

The Dynasty Starts in Sixth Grade

Millennial Leaders.

USA TODAY: Our Gold Star World

Great article in USA Today for Dec. 5:  Dr. Jean Twenge, who is featured in Chapter 2 of Millennial Leaders is quoted in the article.

Our Gold Star World

“The education elite have redefined what it means to be ‘educated.’ If a child is ignorant of facts, dates and figures, no problem. The emphasis now is on self-esteem and ‘just being you.’ That’s much easier than learning”.

Read the full article here.

Pick up a copy of Millennial Leaders to read Jean Twenge’s views in Chapter 2..

Newsweek Article: Great Comments from All Generations

News ImageThis is an interesting article from Newsweek (features Jean Twenge who is featured in Chapter 2 of Millennial Leaders). Many of the people who commented felt that the article is a bit negative, so I encourage you to read the comments section. This area will help you gain an understanding of what is really going on with Gen Y. As I have said…They did not get there alone! They are products of parenting, the media, technology and the world at large.

Example:  Check out the post that starts like this (really interesting):

“Comment: One problem with this article is that it is such a tiny slice of the population. Twenge discusses Americans as well as those from other countries but there is a great spectrum of individuals across the developed world and within America ??? and now there is a widening disparity between the rich and the poor. “  (From a Silent Generation leader…very insightful!)

Read Full Comments Here..