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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Mom and Dad…on the Job?

By now, most of us have heard stories of a parent who’s accompanied Junior to the job interview. If not, it’s usually a sad story of a mom or dad who can’t let go and won’t let their child grow up. What’s more, some parents visit their adult-child at work and even request pay-raises for them. The apron strings remain tied tight. With an increasing number of parents who join their son or daughter on employment interviews, some companies are banning such a practice.

Other organizations, however, have decided to go with the flow. When in Rome…


The fact is, parents today tend to engage with a helicopter-style strategy, and it often extends into their children’s careers. Some companies are now questioning how much they want to fight it. As I mentioned above, while some push back on this, other firms have begun embracing parental involvement and using it to attract and retain talent, as well as boost employee morale. Northwestern Mutual does everything it can to accommodate the parents of college-aged interns, including regularly inviting them to the office for open houses, according to Michael Van Grinsven, Field-Growth and Development Director at the Milwaukee-based financial firm. Some managers notify parents when interns achieve their sales goals, and let parents come along to interviews and hear details of job offers.

I suppose it stems from our society, which has come to accept the fact that kids really aren’t grown up until their mid-twenties (and sometimes later). The vast majority of college students are “boomerang” kids who move back home after school. Health insurance for children now extends until age 26. It seems we’ve all gotten used to it.

But should we?

The companies who’ve allowed parental involvement believe they may be finding it has enhanced community and productivity. That sounds good to me. Yet, one has to wonder, is it at the expense of the young employee learning to be autonomous and responsible?  Are we trading empowerment for engagement? Here is the way I see parent involvement play out in a young team member’s job:

1. Happy parent and employee 1. Less autonomous employee
2. Highly engaged employee 2. Strings attached with the parent
3. Increased productivity 3. Potential irresponsibility
4. Less stress for the employee 4. Less strength in the employee
5. Happier young team member? 5. Healthier young team member?

Let’s have a conversation. Have you seen this scenario? Is it better or worse to invite parental involvement with a young employee?

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  1. Jeff Miller on February 24, 2014 at 7:46 am

    This is a tragedy, if parents have to be at their adult children’s interviews.. This only shows that parents are not preparing them properly and making them independent at a young age. The helicopter parent is not allowing the child to make decisions and live with the consequences of those choices, even at an interview. It is a crying shame this happens, and I thank my mother for NOT being a helicopter mom, and not go with me to my very first interview…it made me grow up and take responsibility for my financial decisions and accept that you have to start at the bottom of the totem pole and work hard and work your way generation wants instant gratification and the large salaries right out of the gate…we can thank professional sports for that..they give these large amounts of money to the “right out of high school athletes” and they did not have to pay their dues first and work hard and prove they deserve it. Maybe America needs to get back to ” earning your keep” mentality and stop just handing to them.

  2. Richard Schumacher on February 24, 2014 at 11:24 am

    I saw the title of your post and I cringed. As a university professor, I have only had a few situations where parents want to speak about their child’s performance. Thanks to FERPA, I am not allowed to do so unless their 18+ year old signs off. In each case, the parent quickly obtained the child’s consent, but it forced them, ever so briefly, to think about who really ought to be taking the lead on improving academic performance.
    I look at businesses that consider involving parents in the process as simply caving into a path that proves less problematic. Some administrator simply took too much grief and decided to involve them to save time and hassle. I guess my gut tells me that a simpler way to reduce that hassle would be to include policy that removes the parents from the equation. I don’t see a benefit for the company long term in appeasing parents, nor do I feel the young man or woman benefits from the growth that comes from facing adversity or flat out failure.

  3. Cheryl Houston on February 24, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    The first thing out of my mouth was, “Are you serious?” I know you are. These parents are not doing their children any favors. The goal in raising our children should always be independence and contribution. They need to make their own mistakes, learn from those mistakes and grow from them. I have not seen this myself as my co-workers are older in age but if I did, I’m not sure I could or would tolerate it.

  4. Shellie on February 24, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Our children might not always have us. If my children lose their parents at age 19, say, are they going to be able to make it on their own? By God’s grace they will if I raise them to be responsible, contributing adults who are confident, and humble, enough to make a go at this life thing on their own.

  5. Adam McGoldrick on February 25, 2014 at 12:32 am

    The vast majority of parents out their are stuffing up in one way or another. You can’t expect all parents to have fully raised their children to meet all the expectations and challenges of the world by the time they are 18. I bet 90% of them haven’t. So what are the parents going to do, throw them in at the deep end? Or keep parenting them until they have taught them everything? That is the choice for the vast majority of parents, so it isn’t any wonder that some of them choose to keep parenting their adult children.
    My opinion is just throw them in at the deep end. If you haven’t managed to raise them fully by 18 your parenting is obviously not that good anyway, so they are probably better off without you. Harsh but true.

    • Cheryl Houston on February 25, 2014 at 10:30 am

      I think all kids will still need parenting even after 18, I know I did, but there is a difference between parenting (giving advice and guiding) and intervening at every turn. Advise your young adult how to behave in an interview, don’t go to the interview.

      • Jennifer Achtstatter Boberg on February 26, 2014 at 11:25 am

        I agree!

    • Jennifer Achtstatter Boberg on February 26, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Not necessarily. Maturity does not occur based on a clock. Children do not mature at the same rate even when provided the best parenting. There does need to be flexibility.

      • Adam McGoldrick on February 26, 2014 at 5:49 pm

        Children won’t mature at all if you don’t allow them to. Once your offspring have turned of age, whatever that age may be in your society, you really need to give advice only when asked, or if you must only after you seek permission.
        To say that all kids need parenting after 18 as Cheryl has, with the evidence being “I know I did” is not true. I don’t think parenting in the context of this article is about just giving advice and guidance either, I think it refers to going further than that.

  6. Jennifer Achtstatter Boberg on February 26, 2014 at 11:23 am

    At different points in history we have viewed adulthood in woman and men differently. What the average lifespan was determined some of it. Woman were treated as adults based on biology. You are old enough to breed, you are old enough to marry and be an adult.
    Some men however were not allowed to marry until they had proven themselves as providers, so they could be as old as 30.
    Additional jobs have changed. You used to have more apprenticeship type jobs versus being prepared for a job by a school. Many younger people went into the same trade as their family, so they were around and with their family longer.
    Likewise many families and extended families lived together, depending on your culture many still do. Americans stress independence and the individual more than any other culture. The question is should we? Maybe not always. The last decade the economy has forced a lot of families to stay together longer financially. We have also created a debt based society which puts further strain on individual finances and limits independence. I think we need to strike a balance between all of it.

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Mom and Dad…on the Job?