Many of us raised our children to be independent. Once they were adults, we wanted them to come to us for our advice, good counsel and, yes, the occasional handout. But in college, they would be on their own in dealing with professors and deans. In finding a job, we might prep them on how to put their best foot forward, but they would be on their own. Once on the job, they would figure out how to perform and to stand up for their rights and benefits. So I thought.
I was misled. In a trend that's been picking up momentum, adult-child parenting is heading to a new and higher hover level. Parents are jumping in to complain to colleges about their child's grades or dorm situation and continuing that oversight into the work years.
Let me trace some of this for you. Five years ago, NextAve ran this headline to a story:
When Parents Go Too Far to Help Their Kids Land Jobs: Helicoptering has reached the workplace, with some moms and dads even going to their kids' interviews.
Five years later, the hovering has moved from helping a child land a job to dealing with the nitty gritty of the work place. By way of example, a recent NYTimes article reports the findings of a former Stanford freshmen dean, Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of “How to Raise an Adult.”
[O]fficials at Teach for America have been mystified in recent years by the volume of parents who intervene on behalf of their adult children, whom the group employs as teachers.
A Teach for America administrator told Ms. Lythcott-Haims that parents had called him with complaints about such issues as their child’s being disciplined by a principal or having a run-in with a fellow teacher, as though the adult child were still a student.
It isn't just Teach for America. Workplace blogger, Lee Caraher, wrote this recently about parental interplay with their adult child's job:
What does this look like? Millennials’ parents joining their adult children at interviews; parents calling managers to lobby for better reviews or higher raises. Or parents actually doing the work for their adult children – which all unravels when the employee doesn’t have the luxury of time to participate or complete a task.
When I mention this phenomenon to a friend who, as a parent, is a generation or two behind me, he tells me he knows such parents. He has friends, he says, "who seem to think they're still responsible. They don't feel the least bit guilty about intervening. We tell them, 'we think you're out of your mind.'"
Now comes this word. Companies are recognizing the phenomenon and accommodating it. Some are setting up newsletters so that parents can learn more about their child's workplace. A growing number of companies are hosting "Bring in your parents to work" days. Count LinkedIn and Google in that number as well as a number of small companies.
Call me (and my friend) old-fashioned or out of touch with the current culture, but this doesn't seem like the road to independence--for our kids or us.