Twentysomething: In praise of the helicopter parent

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By Ryan Healy — Recently, I have seen a slew of articles about helicopter parents. Parents of millennials are becoming very involved in the job search process. These parents feel they have the right to call their child’s company to discuss benefits and relocation packages and even negotiate salary. I think this is great.When Brady Quinn, the star quarterback from Notre Dame, was finally drafted by the Browns in last weeks NFL draft, I can guarantee his agent was on the phone with the team negotiating Brady’s salary, benefits and any other perks an NFL quarterback might receive.

An NFL quarterback, or any athlete for that matter, would never dream of negotiating for themselves. Agents have the experience and maturity to know what their client deserves and they have the practiced skills to negotiate the best deal. Why are newly minted college grads expected to do the wheeling and dealing involved in a job search, with little to no guidance?

Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t possibly find an agent to represent me in my job search. The 5% cut of Brady Quinn’s salary that an agent receives is probably more than my salary for the next three years.

But what could be better than having my parents represent me? Not only do they have my best interests in mind and want to see me succeed, but they have the experience. Most parents of millenniels have been in the corporate world for years. They have seen first hand; downsizings, layoffs, and corporate restructurings. They have probably held multiple jobs, and negotiated their own salary and benefit packages.

Parents are skeptical of corporate America for good reason. They don’t exactly trust companies to provide their children with well paid, safe and secure jobs. Many of these parents are probably baby boomers who would love to retire soon. They spent hundreds of thousands of hard earned dollars on an education for their children to land a great job. And they expect their children to at least have the resources to return the favor and help support them in retirement and old age.

I have every intention of returning this favor and helping my parents out. But as a new college graduate, it is just not possible to know very much about salaries, stock options, Pension Plans, 401K’s, Health Insurance or anything else you quickly learn when you leave the college fantasy world behind.

Obviously, at some point we millennials need to grow up and become adults, but a little guidance and occasional intervening in the first post-college job search will teach a twentysomething how to properly handle the next search, on his or her own.

Thanks to his years of extensive networking and corporate climbing at a well respected non-profit, my father helped me get an internship at Merrill Lynch one summer and a local accounting firm the next. Of course, I had to create a resume (with a lot of help from my parents), set up an interview, and go through the entire process like everyone else. But I never would have had the chance if my parents hadn’t intervened.

I think the bigger issue here is companies are worried that all of this parental hovering may cost them money. The majority of entry-level workers are probably underpaid. It’s easy to make a 22-year-old an offer and say, “Take it or leave it.” Most young workers will end up accepting because they don’t know what they are really worth. If an experienced parent acts as an agent and coaches their kid through the process or even involves themselves in the process, that entry-level worker just may get the offer they deserve.

Of course, there should be limits to just how involved a parent should be. The last thing you want to do is cost your kid a job. And once the job search is over, please don’t call human resources to check up on me. But if you know what you are doing, then go ahead and help your kid land that first dream job. The corporations might not be too happy about it, but if the trend keeps up, all they can do is learn to deal with it.

Ryan Healy’s blogs is Employee Evolution.

58 replies
  1. Ryan Holiday
    Ryan Holiday says:

    You’ve got to be joking. In a society where problem after problem is caused by a lack of responsibility and maturity, why on earth would the solution be to coddle children more? In fact, helicopter parents change the very nature of a college student from an adult to child.

    Let me get this straight. Since you’re not qualified to earn an internship on your own and your parents helped, we should go along with your rationalization?

    This blog is great, but this post is ridiculous…and sad.

  2. Christiane Bach-Heuker
    Christiane Bach-Heuker says:

    To be coached behind the scenes by a third party, even by a parent? Why not! I am free to decide how much of this advice I will use later on.

    To be recommended by a parent to a potential employer? Why not! It is called networking and I would not reject such favor of my dad or mom. They would give it to anybody who suits to a vacancy they have heard of. Still from the first letter or interview on it is my performance that counts. The recommendation would backfire to whoever recommended me if I turn out to be a non-performer.

    To have mom or dad call the HR or my boss to discuss job details? No way! (Unless I am in a business where agents are involved to represent candidates and my parent is such an agent by profession). At that stage of professional life it is my responsibility to become so familiar with all the details of it that I can discuss it with my employer. It is called growing up.
    As an employer i would be rather irritated to have such conversation. Can I expect the candidate to take care of my business if he cannot take care of his own?

  3. Mark V.
    Mark V. says:

    Coaching your child and giving him/her the benefit of your experience is fine, but there comes a time when they have to face the big, scary world on their own, and that first job is one of the best places to start. They need to learn by DOING, not watching. How else will they learn negotiating skills, if not by doing it themselves? Yes, they will stumble from time to time, but that is a part of life and a key to being able to grow as a person.

    I agree, coaching and mentoring your child through the job process are extremely important, and that is what I am stressing in this post.  However, who is to say a person will never grow and learn by both watching and doing?


  4. Jill
    Jill says:

    What a ridiculous idea! If a parent called my company on behalf of their applicant child, I would immediately cross that kid off my list. This is so immature and goes against everything I’m looking for in a potential employee. When are Millenials going to grow up and learn how to take care of themselves?

    I am amazed at the negative responses.  This is the first time I have actually aligned myself with the views and practices of Fortune 500 companies.  Merrill Lynch now has an intern program that involves parents every step of the way.  Multiple other companies are involving parents by sending them brochures and salary and benefits info.  Many parents who wouldn’t otherwise be involved are now being invited in by corporations.  Just because this is not the way the world worked in the past, it does not mean its wrong and it does not mean we cannot take care of ourselves.


  5. Elita
    Elita says:

    This post is a joke, right? Anyone who works in education knows that helicopter parents are not only a nightmare for administrators and teachers alike, but they do their children a HUGE disservice by babying them well into adulthood. Life isn’t fair sometimes, a lesson I learned for myself at the age of 13. When are the children of helicopter parents ever going to learn this? You’re not owed anything in this life. If corporations do go down this road, they will be sorry because these parents will never stop. They will wonder why little Johnny didn’t get a raise and be upset if you give him a poor evaluation (even if he was late every day…it’s not his fault!) Is this really what this world is coming to? God, what a nightmare.

  6. ShakingHead
    ShakingHead says:

    The end of American civilization is nigh!

    There was a time in America that young people aspired to be adults.

    Helicopter parents and their spoiled perpetually juvenile children in adult bodies are a symptom of something very, very wrong.

    It’s the Peter Pan society: I won’t grow up. I won’t grow up. I won’t grow up.

  7. Jacqui
    Jacqui says:

    For the first time, I definitely disagree. Yes, parents have more experience negotiating salaries than we do, but that’s where their advice comes in handy. Not their services.

    When a few guys were recruiting for my company’s internship program (just an internship – not even a real adult position) their report back to me was filled with stories of helicopter parents and how they couldn’t believe they were following their kids around at a job fair. They told me they wouldn’t even consider the kids who weren’t confident enough to come on our their own.

  8. peter vajda
    peter vajda says:

    I would echo what Mark V. says, above. I think it can be a noble effort for parents to coach and mentor their sons and daughters; they most often have requisite experiences that can help frame their coaching in a real context. But once the game (of life) starts, the coach can never go on to the playing field and play the game for the one being coached.

    When parents do too much to support their sons and daughters, it’s possible they’re enabling their children in such a way that “as adults” they are still children, emotionally and psychologically, and, as such, in adult situations, for example, are afraid to speak up for themselves, ask for what they need, negotiate, take control, think critically and strategically, plan appropriately, objectively analyze and assess life and work situations, make healthy life and work choices, etc. So, there’s coaching which is supportive, honest, “tough loving” when appropriate…and there’s coaching which can be enabling, coddling, etc.

    Ryan says, “I had to…go through the entire process like everyone else. But I never would have had the chance if my parents hadn't intervened.”

    It sounds, Ryan, like you benefitted greatly from your parents’ support. It also sounds like you are standing solidly on your own two feet, self-reliant, and confident. It’s when support becomes overdone, inappropriate and emasculating in some way that some “children as adults” still stand on one foot needing a crutch to walk through life.

    I just read an article yesterday about “prom babies”…that girls are getting pregnant on prom nite as they are insecure about going to college and that getting pregnant is their way out of going to college. I wonder about how some of these folks wind up being insecure…does it start with helicoper parents…hmmm


    I absolutely agree.  There is a point when someone needs to stand on their own two feet and “grow up.”  I have been able to do this with a tremendous amount of support from my parents.  If someone decides to rely on their parents to walk through life, then that person will sink, while the rest of us swim.


  9. Justin
    Justin says:

    As an HR Manager and someone who has hired hundreds of people, many of them twentysomethings, I have to say that this is probably the only bad idea I’ve read on this blog.

    If I had interviewed someone for a job and their parents called me up to talk about it, the person would automatically be disqualified. I’m looking for mature employees who can handle their own problems and issues. For your parents to call me up and try to discuss a job offer with me, or worse yet try to negotiate with me, proves to me that you aren’t ready to make decisions for yourself.

    And best case scenario, if I don’t disqualify you outright, I’m going to tell your parents that I won’t talk to them about it. You’re a big boy now and you have to have your own conversations.

    By all means discuss jobs, salaries and work with your parents, lord knows I did when I started out. But keep the actual discussions with employers between you and the employer. Remember, your mom and dad probably aren’t agents, and you probably aren’t a superstar and I have hundreds of other twentysomethings chomping at the bit to get the jobs we have.

    If you really want to stand out, you need to prove to me that you can handle yourself, not that mom and dad still have to fight your battles for you.

    The proof will come from my background, interview skills and if I decide to accept; my job performance.  If I can’t keep up a conversation then you won’t hire me to begin with.


  10. Tyson
    Tyson says:

    I think this post brings up an interesting point…

    Most of the responses thus far have focused on the parental coddling that has engulfed intergenerational dialogue for the past few months. I look at this post and chose to “think outside of the box.”

    Athletes, actors/actresses, politicians, aka “the important people,” all have agents, reps and sponsors to support their career decisions. What about the average joe?

    Sure, we’re not all “superstars” as Justin points out, but either were all the new faces popping up in Hollywood. They were nobodies too, until an agent helped them get a foot in the door.

    There’s definetely a limit, an agent can get you an audition, but he/she can’t read your lines. So let the parents be involved, but when it’s time for the interview, you have to do the talking.


    Finally, someone has touched on the main point of my post.  Why shouldn’t we have agents?  High level executives have agents to negotiate salaries and the many other perks that come with a job.  Low level employees should at least have someone looking out for their best interest.  We can’t afford to hire an agent, so why not the parents?  You do the talking, you get the job based on interviews and background.  But what do you know about salaries and benefits at 22?


  11. Bill
    Bill says:

    I see some rather blanket statements about the youngest generation of works.

    How would you react if I said “all boomers are unimaginative, selfish and ruined their children?” Not a fair statement, is it?

    I am a millenial, and I worked hard to get the two career jobs I have had. I sweated over my resume, in interviews and when an offer was made.

    And I would never dream of asking mommy and daddy to do me a favor and contact a company. My god, I can take care of myself. I own a home, my own car and haven’t gone looking for a handout in years. but I do go to my parents for advice.

    How many of you who are making these spoiled, weak brat statements actually work with or have hired someone under the age of 30?


    Great point.  Obviously, these helicopter parents got the name for a reason.  Why is it so wrong when it’s not your child?  Will anyone reading admit they are a helicopter parent?


  12. Marina
    Marina says:

    I’m with Jacqui (and others) here: parents should provide only advice. Aside from all the well-put points about annoying the HR department, am I the only twenty-something that would myself be annoyed if my parents tried to intervene with my potential employers? If anything needs to change, it’s that we need to take responsibility for ourselves and our lives earlier, not have our parents treat us like kids until our twenties. Somehow I was able to get a first job when I was 16 by myself, so hopefully I’m able to do it now, as a college graduate.

    Also, I take issue with “[parents] don't exactly trust companies to provide their children with well paid, safe and secure jobs.”

    It’s no one’s responsibility to provide me with a well-paid, safe, or secure job (it’s my job to look for or provide it to myself!), and it’s certainly not my parents’ place to mistrust my employer for me.


    Corporations exist to both make money and provide their employees with a paycheck so they can survive.  All you can do is work your hardest to not be fired.  If a company is not responsible for providing a productive employee with a job, then they should be mistrusted.  If it is solely your responsibility, then you may as well start your own business.

    My parents did not negotiate anything with my employer or contact them during my my job search.  Like you I would have been annoyed.  However, if this was common practice, and it appears to be heading in that direction, I would welcome their help.


  13. Marina
    Marina says:

    Also, what’s this about Merrill Lynch involving parents every step of the way? I was an intern there last summer, and got the job with absolutely no help or involvement from my parents. The only thing they helped with was getting me to NYC for the summer…

  14. Samantha MacInnis
    Samantha MacInnis says:

    I think that the employees need to understand how having a parent take the lead in their career, including such fundamental things such as salary negotiation and benefits. I think it's great, and essential that parents offer advice and support to their children regarding these, especially if it is their first job out of school, but it should still be the new hire who takes ultimate responsibility. The danger for the company is not that they may have to provide more cash or benefits to these new hires – €“ the reality is that at most this difference will be a few thousand dollars, and most likely it will be much lower, regardless of the parents' negotiating skills. As a manager I would be far more concerned that I am hiring someone is has to have someone else tackle the really difficult jobs for him, one who thinks they are removed or above fighting out the details of problems themselves. Anyone can do a job when things go well, and there isn't any conflict. What I am looking for is someone who is willing to step up and take responsibility and having a person's parents' negotiate their entry into a company does not show that ability.

    A parent should never take the lead in their kids career, rather they should act as agents, advising in the background until a company decides to try and take advantage of their twentysomething.  Further, a few thousand dollars is pennies to a company, but  can make the difference between living alone or being forced to move back home with their parents for an entry level worker.  Again, you are always taking a risk when hiring someone from school.  If they perform on the job, reward them.  If not, let them go.


  15. melanie gao
    melanie gao says:

    You know this morning my 4-year-old claimed he couldn’t put his own shoes on, they are Velcro mind you, and you know what I did? I put them on for him. And as I read your post just now I had a flash-forward to a day 20 years from now when he asks me to negotiate a salary for him. Tomorrow he is either going to put his own shoes on or he will walk to school barefoot.

    Ryan, I couldn’t disagree more with your post but I do appreciate it because it’s a new perspective. Thank you for that.

    Great point, it is a new perspective.  Its a perspective that is being adopted by HR departments everywhere.  I’m sure they don’t enjoy it, but involving parents in the job search is a reality today.  In twenty years, your 4-year old will not ask you to negotiate a salary for him.  His company will keep you involved through the process, so you can advise him.


  16. Dan
    Dan says:

    I dont think anyone is really understanding this post… I personally have very supportive parents, it isnt that they call the HR department, it’s that our parents as baby boomers have a network that we as millenials should take advantage of. I am finishing college next year, I own my own business, pay my own bills and represent myself on a personal basis. However, I use my parents network as a path to increase my potential as an entreprenuer. Noone knows me better than them, so why can they not represent me? I agree with this, and I will utilize my parents as “agents” eventually giving them a cut of what I make. It should be a goal of every millenial to be succesful enough to take care of their parents in the future, so why not use them and their network to become succesful??

  17. Sarita
    Sarita says:

    The Twentysomething posts have been a great addition to this blog. However, when I first read this post, I honestly thought it was satirical!

    I love my parents and am so very grateful for the advice and support that they have given me as I’ve grown up. I could not have gotten anywhere close to where I am today without their help. However, I would be absolutely MORTIFIED if they personally contacted my employer on my behalf– I can’t think of a time when that would be okay. It just screams “I’m not an adult and I can’t handle my own problems.”

    The HR departments that are involving young people’s parents in the job set-up are in for some big problems, in my opinion.

    Ryan, I hope all of these comments don’t discourage you (though you don’t seem like you are easily shaken). This is a good debate. Keep the posts coming.


    Don’t worry these comments do not discourage me.  This is the fun part!  Everyone loves a little controversy, right?


  18. Jacqui
    Jacqui says:

    After reading all these comments about how Millennials are overgrown children with no aspirations of becoming adults, I feel the need to step in and defend us a bit.

    We need to consider the possibility that helicopter parents don’t always wait for an invitation to butt into their children’s lives. Most of the time, they decide to do it all on their own, regardless of their children’s wishes.

    The follow-up to my intern recruiting story is that many of the students being escorted around the job fair by their parents looked mortified, and one young man actually seemed to be sabotaging all the connections his father was trying to make for him.

    I’ve made this comment before: We need to consider that millennials are not the ones choosing to be coddled. Rather, the coddling has been pretty much forced on us.

  19. Frédérique
    Frédérique says:

    One issue that strikes me in most of the articles about helicopter parents is that, for the most part, they are middle-class and educated. Many Americans, come from low-income families where parents may be committed but may not have the contacts or the knowledge to be their kid's « agent ». We're so quick to talk about America as a land of opportunity but these types of hidden advantages are what keep wage and opportunity gaps what they are in North America. For example, getting in the door with a company is a lot easier if you've interned with them but if you're not middle class an unpaid full-time internship may not be financially feasible, no matter how awesome an employee you'd be, a point that's well illustrated in Will Smith's Pursuit of Happyness. The guy the movie's based on spent nights in subway bathrooms in order to complete his internship with Dean Witter.

    Nonetheless, I don't agree with the posters who think Ryan shouldn't take advantage of his parents' contacts and knowledge. He's fortunate to have them in his life and would be a fool to turn down their support. A good employee knows how to use every resource at his disposal to achieve a desired outcome.

    I just hope Corporate America makes sure that their hiring policies make room for people who are just as smart and hard-working as Ryan but maybe not as lucky.


    Excellent point.  I am lucky to have these resources at my disposal, and I can only speak from my perspecetive.  I also hope that corporate America can make room for all smart, hardworking people.  Thanks for an excellent comment from a different perspective.


  20. Greg
    Greg says:

    Right concept, right idea, wrong age. When I was a kid, "helicopter parents" helped their 14 or 15 year old kids line up their first job. They might meet the boss or supervisor and made sure it was an appropriate work environment.

    I managed a fast food place and we were oriented towards kids working their first job. Often a parent had to drive their kid to apply. We had a welcome package that included coupons for free meals for the family so they would come in and meet the manager. I had a couple of occasions to interact with parents when their kid had work-related issues.

    The 15 year old that came through my door had potentially 7 years of real world job experience available before university graduation. Perhaps "helicopter parents" should help their children by making sure they have plenty of "real world" experience before their first "real job."


    I’m not sure when you were a kid, but just because things were one way then does not mean they should be that way today.  30 is the new 20 (or something like that) and making sure kids have real world experience before they enter the real world is ludicrous.  Your childhood is a time for you to be young and carefree.  A high school job will not provide you with the “real world” experience needed in the corporate world, it will put a few extra dollars in your pocket and teach you some minimal responsibility.


  21. Chris
    Chris says:

    You have to be kidding me right? We should have our parents help us in weeding out the possibly bad first time job. B.S., I can't understand why a person would feel it is appropriate, let alone write a blog about how daddy was able to land you what he considers a worthy enough job. My assumption is that Ryan is still on salary from mom and dad, and probably lives well above his actually means. Don't get me wrong I am aware that it is who you know not so much what you know when you landing that stealer first job out of college. But once your daddies name has advanced you as far up the ladder as possible, I look forward to climbing over you, as for only people of real value are of an asset to an organization.

  22. Mark
    Mark says:

    Ryan, you keep making blanket statements like “it’s a practice being adopted by HP departments everywhere”. I am a professional with a large multinational and am totally unfamiliar with this practice. What are your sources?

    Another example of the entitlement mentality at work.

  23. Nancy Hannigan
    Nancy Hannigan says:

    Isn’t this debate really about the degree of parental involvement? As a boomer manager, and mother of a college sophomore, I walk a very careful line. I’ll help my daughter draft emails to potential employers, but the versions I write for her are riddled with “insert your specific examples here” and “say something like this but customize it.”

    I may loan her my car to drive to an interview, but I would never consider driving her there myself and barging in on her conversation with a potential employer.

  24. Emily
    Emily says:

    Coddling aside, I think the main reason I wouldn’t want my parents – ever! – intervening for me in a job-hunting content is that in many ways they can’t get past seeing me as a child, and I fear they would present me as such. I have no problem with the idea of agents in general, but please, let it be someone who didn’t change my diapers or drag me out of bed to go to school.

  25. Ryan Holiday
    Ryan Holiday says:

    In the last month I’ve gotten two major Hollywood internships–entirely on my own in the sense that they were from connections that I created and cultivated. You know what I did after? I called my parents and they congratulated me. That’s what a parent is for. Not to negotiate my salary or call my boss when he’s a jerk.

    This thread actually gives me great hope. I’m nearly 3 years younger than you and clearly about 5-6 years further down the road, both career and maturity wise. 

  26. Colin Kingsbury
    Colin Kingsbury says:

    Points for provoking quite a strong response!

    Parents jump-starting their kids’ careers is an ancient tradition. Historically speaking the distinctions between things like “family” and “business” and even “government” have been pretty loose. It’s not until around the 18th century when you start seeing the emergence of larger corporate entities with large numbers interested parties (namely, investors) outside the family that you start seeing a real sea-change in this. This is probably still the operative reality for most of the population of the world, and even in the US, it’s probably a decent bet that if the father’s a cop/machinist/doctor/whatever, there’s a statistically larger than random chance the son will end up doing the same thing.

  27. Alan
    Alan says:

    Oh, my, where do I start. First, Ryan, you obviously didn’t have any kind of job before college. Any job, regardless of pay or level of responsibility, IS real world experience! When someone is counting on you to perform a task, that’s real world!

    Ryan is not completely wrong on this topic. Having an “agent” work on your behalf to negotiate the best terms for you is a good idea. Should that be your parents? Probably not, because it doesn’t look professional.

    To those who boast about how they did everything “on their own” with “no help from others”, I’m not impressed. The most successful people in life have others who help them along the way.

    I also agree with Frederique.

    Last comment. It would be nice if the media, including this blog, would use people who are more representative of the population at large. Most people don’t go to private universities and work in Manhattan.


    First off, I am glad you see the big picture point that I’m trying to make here.  Entry level workers deserve an agent or someone to wheel and deal for them.  The typical entry level job consists of zero negotiations, offers are usually take it or leave it.  If parents intervening can change this and give us twentysomethings some representation then I’m all for it.  I challenge anyone my age to turn down a higher salary offer for the original low ball offer, just because your parents helped you get it.  Further, from my 4 jobs before my public university education, I learned how to; make sandwhiches, clean golf clubs, suck up to country club members, and put up party tents.  Of these skills, the only skill that has helped me in my current “real world” job, is sucking up to the members.


  28. Jason
    Jason says:


    Regarding one of your comments, corporations exist to make money. They give jobs to people who can (a) help them make money or (b) help them save money. Also, it is NOT ludicrous for students to have real world experience before they enter the real world. That’s what internships and part-time jobs are for. I got a part-time job in a corporate environment during my junior year of college for that specific reason.

    Regarding the article, yes, it would be great to have agents who negotiate those things on your behalf. But showing either an inability or a lack of desire to negotiate salaries, perks, etc on your own behalf CANNOT reflect positively on yourself. In my opinion, it makes you look immature and lazy. I can’t possibly see how it will reflect positively upon you, and unfortunately, image & first impressions do matter.

  29. Alan
    Alan says:


    Is it lazy for one to hire a realtor to sell your house? How about one to make vacation plans? To find an apartment?

  30. Sujatha
    Sujatha says:

    I so disagree with this post. Help, advice, guidance from parents is fine, but having them negotiate salaries and benefits is outrageous. I work for a very large multinational too and our intenship program doesn’t negotiate with parents, either at the interview stage or after hiring.

  31. Jason
    Jason says:

    I’m not sure you’re grasping my point. I’m saying that I don’t think it can possibly help the prospective employee’s case if his mommy or daddy is doing his negotiating for him and hovering about the interview process.

    Besides, I never said having your parents do your negotiating made you lazy; I said it make you appear lazy, which is extremely important to somebody who is thinking of hiring you.

  32. Working on Career Change
    Working on Career Change says:

    I think the problem with anyone hovering over, is they are trying to constantly guide, protect, maximize possibilities for the child. When the person being hovered over is truly a child without financial resources, a drivers license or possibly even the ability to see over a tall counter, a bit of hovering may provide greatly needed direction or assistance. BUT…. when we are talking teenagers and 20-somethings, hovering is unnecessary and creates an expectation of continual success and fear of failure.

    Today EVERYONE needs to learn that no one succeeds all the time and that you can learn from your failures, as long as they are YOUR failures. It took me a long way into adulthood to realize that there is no shame in failing, the shame is in not trying, not listening to your own heart, not standing up for what you believe. I have a support system that I can radio to if I need advice, but DON’T HOVER OVER ME!!!

  33. Steve Roesler
    Steve Roesler says:

    1. When my daughter graduated from college, I certainly showed her how to construct different resumes.
    2. I touched based with some corporate friends to ask “if their company was hiring______,’ and what was the best way for my daughter to initiate the process.
    3. While she was interviewing for “the” first big job, she worked at another job.

    College graduates who are looking for work are, for the most part, trainees. What they know how to do best is take tests and submit term papers and projects. So they’ve proven they can do that at an advanced level.

    Brady Quinn and others have agents because they’ve already proven their worth and are entering high stakes areas where the contractual implications baffle all but the most specialized attorneys. But the Quinns of the world have a 4 year history of performance that speaks for itself.

    If a mother or father personally inserted themselves into the hiring/negotiation process at my firm, the process would be over. I want someone who is willing to accept responsibility and learns from accepting it–including struggling with how we’ll work together.

  34. Marina
    Marina says:


    You’re definitely right that everyone needs help from others along the way… if my comment was one of the ones that made it sound like I didn’t believe that, that wasn’t my intention. My parents (friends, colleagues, etc) definitely advise and help me tons. I disagree with Ryan that parents intervening on my behalf is ok, that’s all.

    One more thing: I’m not sure why you expect this blog to “use examples more representative of the world at large.” Most people are best at writing about what they know and have lived through, so unless one is a reporter or talented novelist, he should probably stick to that. Plus, I think Ryan went to a public university.

  35. Greg
    Greg says:

    "I'm not sure when you were a kid – "

    I am 44 year old, happily married to a stay-at-home-mom, with a 1 and 3 year old.

    I am not sure when an after school or summer job became oppressive. I o expect my children to their part, at their tender age they feed the dog, set the table, and pick up their toys. I can not speak for others, but high school and university were not carefree. Homework, study, exams. I do not understand what you mean by "30 is the new 20." Are you saying children should not be weaned until 12??

    As far as "real world," what are the issues facing high school and university students? Do any "real world" non-carefree events in recent news come to mind? To raise children that have no way of eling with these issues is not ludicrous, it is neglect bordering on abuse.

    The biggest concern I have with the "helicopter parent" mentality is trying to figure out when the kids learn from mistakes. Research is reveling that telling kids "You are smart." repeatedly lowers their willingness to take risks lest they disappoint. Part of my parenting style is to praise my boys when they try, even if they fail or do no succeed like they wanted.

  36. Susan
    Susan says:

    I have the opposite problem: my mother is “self-employed” (a homemaker whose skills include organizing book club and playing tennis), so she understands very little of office politics or hiring practices. Nothing against her choices, but I choose to have a career and luckily there career-oriented women in my life to balance out Mom’s good ol’ fashioned advice.

    When I’m negotiating my salary (which I have no problem doing, thank you very much), she reminds me that I’m a woman in my early twenties whose background in the non-profit sector, so “don’t expect too much, sweetie.” Dad is well-paid, but his job doesn’t fit the 9-5 mold either. Mom tries to be helpful, and she quotes Penelope’s Globe column totally out of context, so I have to laugh. It’s great to have parental support, but you can get career help other places, too. I have greater respect for someone who has the initiative to negotiate and initiate a job on their own.

  37. Jaerid
    Jaerid says:

    Ryan – you certainly know how to draw out the comments.

    Anyway, I understand your basic point here – having someone represent your interests in the negotiating process, but I have to agree with others that I don’t think parents are the right option. In my experience I have worked with recruiters who have helped me with this process and it has benefited me (granted it helps the recruiter too). I think parents calling on behalf of a child sends the wrong message, even if the intention is innocent – it says that this person has their parents have all the hard conversations in their lives for them.

    So, yes I understand the idea of having representation but think parents are the wrong choice. Interesting thoughts though.

  38. Michael Moore
    Michael Moore says:

    Helicopter Parents got more attention on the Today show this morning. There certainly is a value judgment that can be made on the parenting style, but isn’t the issue really one of the candidate’s competence? To use your example, is a professional athlete’s talent or ability diminished by the use of an agent to negotiate the contract terms? I think the real issue is whether parental involvement at the recruiting stage is really indicative of an inability to perform in the job. In many cases it may be. Employers need to decide whether they want the candidate enough to tolerate the hovering parent.

  39. Alice
    Alice says:

    I want to thank this young women for her honest express of her feelings. I think that it has been easy to sterotype what we do not understand. I am the mother of a young women who just finished her freshman year of college. I was made to feel guilty at the beginning of the year about the possibility of being a helicopter parent. I now look at the end of this year and the VA tech nightmare and I know that I might hoover because I am not sure if this world might claim our daughter is someone else clerical error. College, universities and others sites tend to under rate the possible damage one person could do. I hoover close enough to know but pray that I some day do not need to bring home my daughter is a body bag because some college or university do not do their job.

  40. Hernan Cortes
    Hernan Cortes says:

    Ryan, as I understand your article and your various follow up comments on the subject, you fundamentally fail to understand what an “agent” is in the context of “negotiating salary” etc. for a prospective hire. Your symptomatic delusions as to how capitalism works are what we, as commenters, are trying to warn you and your uninformed readers about. An employer, sports team, etc. consents to negotiate with an agent because 1. there is a (perceived) limited talent pool and 2. the employer is pre-disposed to value the specific candidate. Most entry level positions don’t fulfill these conditions. Because of this scarcity and interest, the unique candidate can put forth an agent to negotiate on his or her behalf. The ability to employ an agent in negotiation is, again, an implicit indicator of a uniquely high level of value of the candidate in a given situation.
    As an employer, I want to get the best deal for myself. Having a pesky parent call to nickel and dime me and waste my time about an entry level role just sounds pathetic and is a non-starter. And frankly that is my real concern – it’s consuming enough keeping a business running. You’re adding to my plate by asking me to coddle parents as well?! That where the candidate oversteps his or her station – by making me do more work to hire them. Think about that.
    I’m not going to wring my hands and bewail the death of traditional America. If you think you can get a better deal by having your parents call a hiring manager, go for it! It may work in some cases – why not?! However, your argument undermines itself to a certain extent. If EVERYONE’s parent calls in, then how would an employer decide who to hire? We’re then back to square one – highest value add for the money. Considering that at the entry level, which you focus on, the pay range is not great in absolute terms. A successful parent then would have to throw around their own contacts and resources to further entice the employer who must choose in the ideal case between two substantially equal candidates. As noted by other commenters above, there is a naked elitism in this equation. But so be it. Certainly, parents have called on friends to get their children jobs since the beginning of time. What you seem to be arguing for is an elimination of this insider track whereby ALL parents felt empowered to call in and offer a value add to be considered along with their child’s hire. Just saying, “My Johnny deserves better,” is going to be met with laughter. But calling and out-competing all the other hand-wringing parents by saying that they would sign up as a client with my company is a whole different ball game. Theoretically, I would listen to a parent who distinguishes their child’s candidacy by a commitment to my bottom line. Whether that is legal under equal opportunity laws is an entirely different matter.

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