Hovering helicopter parents just can’t let go
Every parent wants the best for their child, and some will go to great lengths to ensure their kids’ success. But what happens when the child grows up and parents can’t let go?
A growing number of so-called “helicopter parents” are running their children’s lives well into their 20s, from their vacation and laundry schedules to meddling in their course selections.
And once those kids graduate from college or university, those turbo-charged parents are starting to show up in a place where there presence is unwelcome: their children’s workplace.
Greg Ford, co-founder of recruitment agency The Head Hunters, said he often sees parents taking an extreme hands-on approach when their kids are looking for a job.
“We've seen parents that will call to book the interview for some of their kids,” Ford said.
The veteran headhunter says he sees parents intervening often into their child’s workplace, including an overzealous relative who escorted their kid to the job interview and waited outside.
“And then afterwards, approach us and say, ‘how did it go? Did my kid get the job? Is there anything we can do differently?’” Ford said.
Simon Fraser University student Ian Cheng says his parents call him constantly to bug him to visit home more often.
Cheng said independence is what he wants to see from his parents.
“I wouldn't go for that job if my dad's in the waiting room, I’d be like, ‘I’m leaving and not taking this job if you sit here with me,’” he said.
Job recruiters says that besides the meddling during the interview process, helicopter parents don’t do their children many favours when they land that perfect job. Ford said the children of helicopter parents often have a hard time dealing with criticism once they’re on the job.
"As soon as they get told 'you didn't do that properly,’ as soon as they get a negative performance review, some of them don't know how to handle it,” he said.
Dr. Holly Schiffrin, a researcher at the University of Mary Washington, said over-controlling parents negatively affect their children by undermining their need to feel autonomous. But it’s not just the kids that are affected: helicopter parents are also more likely to be depressed and unsatisfied with their lives because of the unreal expectations they set for their children.
Experts say the best thing parents can do is teach them independence and responsibility -- long before kids are old enough to be in a workplace.
Schiffrin said that can be as simple as giving children simple chores around the house.
“That has always been associated with good outcomes for children, knowing that they have responsibilities in the household as part of the family,” she said.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Nafeesa Karim