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.
Photo credit: William Neuheisel