In my practice, I have observed an increasing number of parents accompanying their recent college graduate son or daughter to an appointment with me. A few days ago, I had a colleague ask me about this "helicopter situation." When I shared with her that I don’t mind when a parent accompanies their son or daughter, she seemed surprised. Here’s why I don’t mind:
Upon arrival at the appointment, I invite Mom or Dad to sit in the chair “over there.” I then invite the son or daughter (client) to be seated near me. Then, we go over “ground rules.” While the ground rules are few and not posted on some large sign in my office, they do set the tone for the career management meeting. After offering appreciation for their presence, I explain that I will direct my conversation to son / daughter and invite Mom / Dad to please refrain from asking/answering questions until the end of the session. I also put Mom / Dad to work by handing them a notepad and pen, encouraging them to undertake an important task: “take as many notes as you wish.” And they do – pages, sometimes.
At the end of the session, after review and wrap up with son/daughter client, I then turn to Mom / Dad who have taken a gazillion many notes and ask if they have any questions. Few questions are ever asked by the respective Mom/Dad. Mostly, I get a “I can’t believe how much we have covered / talked about / learned today” or some variation of that.
As a Boomer parent, I do recall times I have hovered. Maybe too much; maybe not enough. I think I might have been a helicopter parent when I attended a law school visit with our son. I remember the Admissions Representative commenting “I see you brought your Mama along” and our son saying “She asks good questions.” The Admissions Representative didn’t seem to mind that I tagged along. If he did, he did not convey it. And I don’t mind, either. I don’t mind at all when a Mom or a Dad tags along to a career session for these three reasons:
- The son / daughter has a built-in accountability partner.
- The son / daughter doesn’t have to rehash to Mom and Dad how the session went.
- The son / daughter comes back next time, almost always unaccompanied by Mom or Dad.
Are you a Boomer parent who hovers over your job-seeking graduate? Are you a job seeker with helicopter parents? Feel free to share your thoughts.