Our adult-aged kids are struggling like never before as they enter adulthood. That’s not a knock on them. It’s a fact. There are thousands of articles and blog posts that document their intense anxieties with “adulting,” especially when it comes to jobs and careers. In response, our generation is increasingly resorting to direct career intervention. When they most need to figure out adulthood, we parents are prolonging their childhood by saying “I will do the adulting for you.”
I think it’s a tempting impulse that’s born from empathy and a desire to protect. But the parental intervention is getting absurd at times. The editors at Forbes noticed this and felt the need to write an article urging parents to NOT attend their adult child’s job interviews. If we can all agree that’s a bit much, let me give you five more things you should avoid as your adult-aged child is searching for a job this summer and beyond:
1. Don’t do the research and legwork for them.
They need to wrestle with what they want to do, what they are trained to do, and what they are skilled to do. These are questions they need to answer for themselves. If you search databases and job sites or do the networking for them, you risk steering them into a job choice for which they do not feel ownership, investment or fit. Plus, they need to learn these skills for later in life when they face a job change or career shift.
2. Don’t do the applications for them.
Yes, you may have the years of experience that knows how to frame job skills and keywords on cover letters and applications to get them noticed. Or you may just long to tell prospective employers what a gem your child is. Spend your energy teaching your child how to articulate these things for themselves. And let them put the elbow grease needed into the sometimes monotonous, laborious application process. Their endurance and perseverance will develop resilience. Your interference will develop apathy and frailty.
3. Don’t fix their mistakes for them.
If they miss a deadline, forget to upload an attachment, or are in danger of missing an interview because they stayed out too late and overslept, don’t step in for them with the potential employer. Let them experience the sting of irresponsibility and bad choices.
4. Don’t negotiate for them.
Negotiations during a job offer can be tricky, even for the most seasoned adults. But the process of negotiation is also clarifying. It forces answers to questions like “What is most important to me?” and “What do I think I’m worth?” Let them answer those. Advise but do not intercede.
5. Don’t make the decisions for them.
Even if they ask you to tell them what to do, don’t. You can help them see the pros and cons of a situation. That is healthy. But avoid telling them what they should do. Avoid even telling them what you would do if you were them, a frequent question. At most, you might say why you would or wouldn’t find an offer attractive. This goes, too, for how they react to rejection. Let them make and own these decisions.
“But what if they don’t find a job quickly, or they take a lesser job than I think they deserve or need?” I hear and feel those fears that we wrestle with as parents. But in the end, we want and need our adult child to become an independent, smart, wise and responsible adult. What we do, and don’t do, in this process will either accelerate or stunt them from doing so.
Sound off: How would you prepare your child for searching for a job?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why do you think it’s important to learn to do some things on your own?”