Teach your Children

Some helicopter parents just never learn. They’ve been able to stick handle their way through the school system and the sports world for their children, and are now ready to move on to bigger and better things, their adult child's career. There are some unbelievable stories out there about parents who will stop at nothing to micro-manage their adult child’s world. Many a recent story has been told about the mother or father who attends the short list interview for their son or daughter in professional graduate study programs like medicine or dentistry. It seems inconceivable that a parent with money or social stature feels that they can obstruct, coerce and influence the decision makers in these tough to get into programs as it is. Do they not see the harm?

Let me tell you what often happens. What would you do, if you were an employer interviewing someone for a job, and their “mummy” showed up to sit in on the interview? Would you hire that person? No, of course not. So why would the panel selecting doctors choose a candidate who brings their parent in with them (or should I say the parent who insists on being there)? The selection committees are looking for many things in a potential candidate, including resiliency. Not much resilience shown when you have to have your father in the room with you, answering questions for you. They won’t select your child. If they are compelled to tell you why they weren’t selected, they will simply say that in their opinion others were more qualified. Bottom line: As soon as they see a parent come into the room, they are mentally placing the application at the bottom of the pile.

Sometimes it doesn’t stop at college. Back in the mid 80’s, I was managing operations for a sports footwear and apparel chain in BC. We had a store manager up in one of our northern locations, a bright, young man of 24, a good athlete and role model for the staff (or so we thought). Our district manager for the northern region, a bright, young woman, advised me that she had been checking on the manager’s attendance and found out he had been skipping out mid-day on Saturdays, to coach a club basketball team. Now I am the first to champion anyone who is willing to volunteer coach, but this is a job and retail on Saturday is a pre-requisite for attendance, especially as the boss.

After a brief discussion, we decided to let the manager go. He was confronted by the regional manager, cleaned out his office and left the store. A few days later, I received a phone call… from his mother! The conversation (at first) was very one sided. She went into a tirade about how bad the district manager was and "how could we do this to her son." After listening for awhile, I asked her “can I say something”, she said yes, I said “did you know that your son was cutting out of work on Saturdays, our busiest day of week to coach a basketball team? We were not paying him to coach a team, we were paying him to run a business.” A long silence on the other side of the phone ensued, followed by a brief, “thank you for your time” and a quiet release of the receiver.

Stories like these were rare in the 80’s but over the years have gotten increasingly more common, mostly due to helicoptering by parents, and the level of entitlement that becomes prevalent in a child brought up in an over parenting environment.

Teach your children how to fail and succeed. Teach them by letting them live and making their own mistakes.

Have a listen to an old song performed more recently, by Crosby, Stills & Nash, Teach Your Children, Youtube.