Helicopter Mom: Are You Hindering Your Child’s Career?

By Paula Santonocito

motherdaughterBy now, you’ve no doubt heard the term “helicopter parent,” which refers to a parent who hovers over the various aspects of her or his child’s life, including their college education and career.

In a 2007 report, generational experts Neil Howe and Bill Strauss point out that the helicopter parent isn’t an anomaly. Parents of millennials, the latest generation to enter the workforce, are known for close relationships with their children, which can result in an unwillingness to let go.

Single moms especially may be inclined to smother as they attempt to mother their adult children.

Flying Solo

Most parents, single moms included, try to guide their children because they genuinely want to help. However, once a child is in the workforce, it’s time to loosen the reins.

For single mothers, who feel they must parent even more intently, this can be especially difficult.

Be that as it may, it’s important to understand that in order for young job seekers and entry-level employees to succeed, particularly in a highly competitive employment environment, they must present themselves well.

And guess what? Having mom in the mix doesn’t enhance a young person’s standing with an employer.

Guidance Required

This doesn’t mean single moms shouldn’t support their children’s careers. However, it does require knowing what constitutes guidance, and what crosses the line into interference.

With this in mind, here are some dos:

– Do support your child’s career aspirations by listening and offering encouragement.

Telling a child to persevere and that he or she will eventually succeed can provide a necessary boost.

– Do offer practical suggestions based on your own experience.

For example, a young person may be confused about what to wear on a job interview. As a seasoned professional, you are in a position to help with wardrobe choices.

– Do realize that although you have experience in the workforce, you are not a career expert.

Accordingly, do point your child in the direction of solid career advice. Share online resources you have found and/or recommend a career coach or job counselor.

– Do show you’re proud of your child’s accomplishments.

For example, buy your son or daughter a gift or go out to dinner when he or she gets a job or a promotion.

Freedom Necessary

At the same time, it’s important to remind yourself this is your child’s career, and that your child is a separate individual. He or she has different goals, and experiences life differently.

As tempting as it may be to shape and mold and prod and push, don’t do it.

Also, be very aware of trying to live vicariously through your child. Although you always wanted to be a brain surgeon, Suzie may not.