At HR Gurus we find ‘helicopter parenting’ occurring quite frequently these days, and this I can assure you is not a good social development. It’s a big problem—not only for leaders and business owners but for the young people with the said, ‘helicopter parents’.
According to Wikipedia:
A helicopter parent is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they “hover overhead”, overseeing every aspect of their child’s life, constantly.
Hire me, my Mum says so!
I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news as the helicopter parent trend has now reached Australian workplaces. This shows up in many forms but these parents may ring employers to request parent–employer conferences if their child is unhappy with their manager, pay, performance management, or even feedback! And I’m not even joking. I wish I was.
And these ‘children’ are not even children. I’m actually talking about young adults between the ages of 22 and 30. And to be clear, these are not young people who need additional support for example young people with a disability, or that are neurodivergent or have some other reason to seek additional support.
Too often we receive calls from parents wanting feedback when their ‘child’ (or should we say ‘man-child’) Henry, does not get selected for the job. Last week we had a Mum ring and ask if she could come to her daughter’s orientation within an aged care facility. Her daughter is 24 years old!
And it does not stop there. We have had multiple requests from parents to meet with a manager, or the HR team to discuss a performance warning their ‘child’ had received.
We are all asking: Where does this end? I was speaking to someone recently who had attended University Orientation Week—with their son! I was shocked and appalled!
Time to grow up
Unfortunately these parents are robbing their children of the very life experiences that will help them to grow, learn and experience all the things required for them to grow up.
We know that many young people are still living at home with the parentals and we used to bash Millennials for this but now we can start to see Gen Z’s enter the workforce and this phenomenon of younger generations struggling to operate as adults is seemingly on the rise. We know that parents are just trying to help but…
The impact on these young people is that they lack the resilience to cope and manage in a fast-paced and stressful workplace or job. This leads to young people feeling disempowered, overwhelmed and ill-equipped to cope when things don’t go to plan.
What can we do?
All you parents out there, I strongly encourage you to assess your own decisions and actions when it comes to empowering your own kids to be effective adults. Don’t get me wrong I know what its like when your child is struggling, you want to jump in and help and rescue them from the pain. But this often has the opposite impact. Allowing your children to experience life including all the ups and downs, the wins and the failures will set them up for real life in the workplace. And no – you cannot request to meet with HR about your 25-year-old child’s performance review. It’s just not cool.
My hot tip is to encourage young people to get a job as early as possible! Like 14 and 9 months. That’s what we did when I was young but now many parents do not want their child’s casaul job to interfere with their studies. And with the number of Gen Z’s set to obtain a Tertiary Qualification on the rise we are going to see Graduates attempting to enter the workforce with absolutely no work experience to speak of.
What I do know is that first jobs teach young people some valuable lessons about the concept of working hard, and how important it is to get your hands dirty, starting at the bottom and doing the hours. A bit of hard work never hurt anyone and many young people lack work-life experience when they enter the full-time workforce— and they seriously struggle to adjust.
Getting a job early will serve them well, not just in their studies but later in life also!
So please – parents and young people I truly believe the most important job is your first job, and this should not be when you are 24.
If you need help managing different generations in the workplace then reach out.