Your phone rings. It’s mom again. You’re getting frustrated – your parents keep calling to find out if you’ve found an internship yet. The more they ask, the less you feel motivated to search. You’ve got a case of helicopter parents.
“Helicopter parent” is a term coined in the mid 90s and popularized by the media and higher education institutions. Helicopter parents tend to hover over their children – which is how they got dubbed with the term. They may call or e-mail their sons and daughters multiple times each day, contact the student’s professors to see how they are doing in class, or take over the job or internship search that would normally be the responsibility of the student.
Helicopter parents, like all parents, want the best for their students, but they are more assertive (and sometimes even aggressive) when seeking opportunities and resources for their kids. They may argue with a camp counselor to ensure that their son or daughter can carry a cell phone with them at all times even if the camp has a strict “no phone calls” policy. Helicopter parents might even call a campus career center and arrange resume reviews and career counseling appointments without ever consulting their student about their career aspirations. The problem of helicopter parents has even extended to the workplace. Some companies, when training new hires, will distribute a “parent packet” with information explaining what the young adult will be doing on the job, what benefits they will receive, and the extent of their health insurance coverage. The companies felt the need to create these “parent packets” after human resources departments were flooded with parent phone calls, checking in to see if their son or daughter were adjusting well to their new job.
Do you feel like you might be fending off your own helicopter parents? There are some solutions to help ease the hovering and assert your own independence as a young adult. First, examine yourself and your lifestyle carefully to see if you are enabling your helicopter parents. Have you been actively searching for internships, summer employment, and jobs after graduation, or have you been relaxing between classes and allowing your parents to handle the job search? If you want to keep your hovering parents at bay, schedule an appointment at your campus Career Center to learn how you can take initiative and manage your own internship or job search.
If you feel that you are taking responsibility for your own career path yet the helicopter parents keep zooming in to check on you, sit down with them and explain your worries. Prove that you are being responsible about your job search and (gently) tell them that you would like them to back off. But don’t cut them off completely – that can be painful for a helicopter parent. Instead, keep them informed of your progress throughout the internship or job search. This should help eliminate the amount of “hovering” in your life.