Helicopter Mom and Dad Coming to the Job Interview With You?

Kara Powell | Feb 17, 2012

The horror stories of helicopter parents are plentiful but a study conducted by Michigan State University sheds light on how helicopter parents are affecting the job search (note: the study was actually conducted in 2007 but still has interesting implications today). Of the 700 employers who responded in the study, nearly 1/3 had said they received resumes submitted by parents. Four percent of moms and dads actually came to the interview.

Collective eye roll, anyone?

More than just annoying behavior, helicopter parenting can have toxic effects on young people. It communicates to them that they arent competent, skilled, and gifted by God.

Ive also started to see the opposite in parents: parents who are so afraid of helicoptering that they dont support their kids as much as they should.

Somewhere between these two extremes is a helpful middle. If youre a youth leader, a big part of our job is to help parents and young people navigate these two extremes by:

  1. Talking about them. Whether one family at a time, through small groups of parents, or through a youth ministry parent training event.
  2. Encouraging families to identify which tendency they tend to fall toward.
  3. Asking parents to think about what fears and insecurities might be motivating their behavior. As parents, its so easy to parent from fear instead of love.
  4. Inviting them to brainstorm how they can make progress to a more balanced relational dynamic one that is supportive and yet has appropriate boundaries. For helicopter parents, it means keeping their mouths shut and letting their young people fail. For unengaged parents, it means stepping into the conversation and the process more.
  5. Asking them to re-evaluate in a few months. We need to keep revisiting these questions and tensions. We cant expect to find a balance point that lasts indefinitely.
Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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