How to Defend Against Helicopter Parents

Inspector Gadget - Helicopter I am thoroughly grateful for my helicopter parents. Due to their hovering they have successfully put me through college and are ¾ of the way there with my sister. They’ve given me the opportunity to excel in sports and the classroom along with my younger sister. With two college athletes for children I can confidently say I would not be where I am today without the opportunity my parents afforded me.

With that said, when I read the SHRM We Know Next blog Helicopter Parents Descend Upon the Workplace I had to take a step back and think about what was missing. The cited report by Michigan State University and their Collegiate Employment Research Institute startled me even more than the blog itself.

Why are parents directly involved in the employment of their children? Unless it’s a family business this shouldn’t even be a conversation. I’ve been going back and forth whether or not to make a category specifically devoted to what I learned playing for Suzy Venet in college. But, this was the tipping point. This is the debut blog for “Lessons From Coach.”

In the fall of my freshman year, on the first day of class – I had a team meeting with all of the women’s basketball “hopefuls” aka freshman and the rest of the team. We started out with almost 30 freshmen and on senior day there were 4 of us – so yes, I’d call them hopefuls. Our coach was going through rules and protocols and you guessed it – she specifically addressed parents

Fresh from high school, where most of us were the best on our team and an athletic system that is quite political, biased, and can be bought with some cash – our COLLEGE coach wanted to make sure our parents knew where they stood. Also, you realize she didn’t address the parents – she told us, to tell them. Already drawing a clear line of communication between player and coach – no triangle with mom and/or dad.

“If you have a problem with me, playing time, another teammate, get in trouble, have difficulty with grades – I want you to talk to me. I want you to come to my office and tell me. I don’t have time to answer parent’s e-mails and phone calls. I have one job and that is to coach you to a championship,” Coach said. Wide-eyed and nervous, we were getting a dose of what it was like to be an adult. First day of college – welcome.

No more buffer ladies. Solve your own issues. Our coach cared and still does care about our families – but she also understands that in order to grow as an individual we were all 18, legally adults, and needed to start having our own difficult conversations.

Gen Y: We’re the real problem

As much as I’d like to blame helicopter parents who are just too involved in their children’s lives, by the time you’re in college it is up to the student, and now adult, to ask their parent(s) to politely back off.

If you’re a helicopter parent reading this – know your kids love you but, they also need to play the game of life on their own. And if you don’t believe me, you’ll probably continue to hinder their opportunities.

Helicopter Kid: Do’s and Don’ts

Do:

  • If you value your parents opinions that is most certainly acceptable, ask them for thoughts and advice on companies, career path, and job search
  • Discuss their network – they might be able to make an introduction and get your foot in the door

Don’t:

  • Let your parents attend the interview
  • Let your parents advocate for promotion / salary increases
  • Let your parents negotiate salary and benefits
  • Let your parents call and complain if the company does not hire you
  • Let your parents attend a career fair for you
  • Let your parents discuss promotions with the hiring manager
  • Ask your parents to submit resumes on your behalf

It’s important to note that all of the “don’t” points were questions in the survey concerning parent involvement by Michigan State. Except for submitting resumes, all other actions are ones that students can prevent. And as for submitting resumes, if you’re not willing to fill out your own job application how in the world do you think you’re going to do the actual job?

If you have a chronic helicopter parent, sit down with them. Explain that it’s time for you to take responsibility for your career. Their interference will hurt you in the long run. Helping you and doing it for you – are two different things. Some Millennials may be saying – if they want to be involved then why not? According to the “grown-up” manual and the study completed by Michigan State – companies do not look favorably upon Millennial candidates who allow their parents to take part in the recruiting process.

Direct communication should always be between you and your employer. Just like player and coach. It’s an A – B conversation, no C.

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