Helicopter Parents Clip Children’s Wings

As I work at a staffing company, a lot of resumes come across my desk. Few of them are perfect: a typo here, a run-on sentence there, too long, too short, outdated…. These are legitimate turn-offs for anyone in a hiring position. But beyond all of those things, one of the worst first impressions I get consistently is the phenomenon of “helicopter parents.”

These are the people who walk into my office or call asking about job opportunities for their children–usually their sons. Click. Did you hear that? Just that fast, I already know that this is one “young adult” I will almost certainly never hire.

When I was in high school and college way back in the 90s, I remember applying for countless jobs on my own and even landing a couple. I even remember getting some leads and pointers on filling out apps from my Mom. It was her, for example, who first pointed out to me that you don’t need a comma between the state and zip code when you write out an address. Also, she is an avid shopper, so when TJ Maxx was hiring, she was one of the first to know. My parents were in my corner. In fact, they may have wanted me to get a job worse than I did.

Parents still love their kids these days, and they often want to see their kids working more than the kids want to work. But they have to know that they can’t succeed for their child. Their decision to hover like a helicopter over their kids’ lives is hurting everyone involved. When a concerned, loving parent calls me to say they have a child who is looking for a job, several thoughts run through my head about the youth in question:

-This kid has never had a real job. Just finding a job takes creativity, courage, and tenacity–in other words, it’s work. If they can’t do that themselves, what can they do for me?

-While you’re out here hustling on your lunch hour, where is your child? Somewhere in front of a TV, I’m sure. Why can’t s/he present a resume in person like any other able-bodied (or handicapped) member of the workforce?

-If you had any faith in your kid, you’d be willing to kick `em out of the nest and force them to fly. But you think the kid is way too spoiled to stand alone in the real world, and you think it’s your fault.

-Even if I hire this “bright, energetic, resourceful” person of which you speak so highly, the first time s/he complains about challenging situations at work, you (the parent) will call me to try to smooth things over. Unacceptable.

All that and more runs through my head very quickly. There’s a certain amount of sink or swim that comes with growing up.

My 11 month old son slammed face first into the hardwood recently in his quest to learn how to walk. Broke my heart when I saw it happen. I picked him up and hugged and kissed him to death after he fell. But I had to let him test his own footing first.

Let your kids stumble a little, especially after high school. They’re out having sex and trying cigarettes behind your back anyway, might as well let them grow up. Do help them network, do proofread, do encourage, do stay involved; do not, under any circumstances, try to find a job for them. Charge them rent like my mother did me at age 22. That will motivate you to get a job, trust me.

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One response to “Helicopter Parents Clip Children’s Wings

  1. I thought you were 21 when you paid me rent…that’s right, though, you started school at 5 years and nine months because you have a January birthday. (five years old in January but too late in the school year to start kindergarten) So you were 22 when you finished college.

    I’ll bet you’re still paying rent…right?

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