Can Helicopter Parenting Hurt Your Kid’s Chances At Getting A Job?

It may sound ludicrous at first – surely, parents understand that their children have to grow up someday, don’t they? Parents who are focused on and involved in their child’s education can be the key to academic success. And helping your teen apply for their first job can be reassuring, as long as they want the help — but would a parent really assume it appropriate to meddle in their adult children’s job applications?

According to a recent survey by Michigan State University, increasing numbers of parents are doing exactly that. Nearly a third of the 700+ employers surveyed said that parents of recent college graduates had submitted resumes on their children’s behalf. A quarter said that they’d gotten calls from parents, urging the employer to hire their child. And in 4% of cases, parents actually showed up to the interview with their child!

Some companies interviewed by NPR are skeptical about this new trend, one human resources manager going so far as to say employers should have a policy of speaking only with the prospective employee. Margaret Fiester also added that parents applying on behalf of their children or contacting employers, “definitely does not show great leadership or decision-making skills.”

But others are saying that companies need to get parents on their side. Neil Howe, a consultant on generational trends, points out that schools have decided to try to work with and accommodate helicopter parents over the last decade. “Every time a teacher [resisted], that parent, who was so attached to their kid, would become that teacher’s worst enemy,” he told NPR. He compares companies reaching out to parents to schools giving parents the ability to monitor their child’s progress online, or colleges creating an Office of Parent Relations.

It does make a sort of sense. This is a difficult and confusing time for new college grads just entering the workforce. They may not be sure how to negotiate the best salary or benefits. They may be desperate for a job to help pay off their student loans. Certainly, many of them are probably turning to their parents for advice – but are some parents crossing the line from helping their child to actively hindering them?

While there may be a few companies opening their arms to the parents of their potential employees, there must be many others out there who would dismiss an application from a parent without a second thought. And are these children really learning how to take initiative and achieve on their own in the adult world?

More to the point: is this the end result of “helicopter” parenting? Do parents who feel the need to manage every aspect of their child’s life in school raise adults capable of handling the challenges of the real world? Maybe more research needs to be done, but the trend is troubling. What are these people going to do when they have families and children of their own?

Ultimately, this study shows that parents who micromanage their children’s lives can have a far-reaching impact, even once their son or daughter has left the classroom for good. Exactly what that means has yet to be seen.


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Photo credit: William Neuheisel

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Cheryl H.
Cheryl H.2 years ago

Give me a break! This is ridiculous. By the time someone graduates from college, they should be well past the age where they need their hand held every step of the way. When I started applying for jobs, my parents were there with advice, guidance, and support, but it was on me to write the resume and cover letters, mail them, follow up on them, and I was definitely going to interviews on my own. When I lost a job for the first time, my parents were there to comfort me and support me as I got back into the job hunt. A parent's job is to teach their child how to make their way in the world, and handling the challenges, obstacles, and pain that's inevitable is part of that.

Sylvia B.
Sylvia B.2 years ago

Oops, sorry about the typos.

Sylvia B.
Sylvia B.2 years ago

Oh dear Gods, this reminds me of one twenty-something former employee who applied for an got hired at my workplace. He interviewed and was placed with an engineering client. Ok, not problem. However, his mom showed up every two weeks to pick up his paycheck, and she was annoying as hell. The poo really hit the fan when her little darling got fired by the client and his mom called the client and screamed at the manager in charge there. Thankfully, this person found a job elsewhere, so we did not have to deal with him.

My brother and I preferred to go to job fairs and interviews by ourselves, to keep the "family drama" out of the job-hunting process, as it was stressful enough. I've only had one time long ago where my mom came along, and that was only because my car was in the shop and I had to get across town from my other job to make it on time. (I told mom to wait in the car to go someplace to do some shopping or whatever until I was done.)

I don't know, this must be a generational thing. I wonder if the poor kids are getting henpecked to death by their parents to the point of being paralyzed from the neck up.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson3 years ago

can't they see they only hamper their children's growth and development? I don't understand... I WANT me son to be independent. There is no other way to be in today's world. They need the confidence to feel prepared in the world

Sarah M.
Sarah M.3 years ago

These parents are terrible because they only make their children's lives much harder in the end by not preparing them. It's not fair to the kids.

Marilyn J Leger
Marilyn J L.3 years ago

This doesn't surprise me. I work "rush" at a large university bookstore. Students show up with no ID whatsoever, with parents filling out necessary student forms, parents doing everything for the student short of actually going to class. (And I occasionally have my doubts about that.) We're not talking freshmen away from home for the first time; we're talking juniors & seniors. Surprised not to find them accompanying their grad-student children!

Involved and aware parents are essential. Parents who try to live their children's lives, who try to protect them from, instead of prepare them for, life -- just get in the way.

Virginia B.
Virginia B.3 years ago

Any parent turning up at a job interview with their offspring would immediately put me on guard and off! What does this say about the applicant??

Robyn Brice
Robyn Brice3 years ago

If I was an employer and I had someone turn up to an interview with their parents in tow, I would not want to hire that person. I would want someone that I felt was mature and independent. I think in the long run helicopter parents do more harm than good.

Huda G.
Huda G.3 years ago

I remember my Mum telling me that "Letting GO' is the hardest thing, which I found very strange as my daughter was days old!!
She was right, but as a parent we must let go, and let our kids move forward. When I got married she also said the door was always"Öpen", which gave me the confidence to move forward knowing if I needed them I could go home!
I've always tried to treat me kids the same, teaching them skills to move forward but being around if needed.
We always want what's best but sometimes parents and kids have a different idea of Best!
We need to stand back be a friend, offer advice and let them get on with it!

Joan Mcallister
.3 years ago

No companies are not hiring the parents, they are now young adults and must stand up by themselves, mummy & daddy can't go through life with them holding their hands.