Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s flip-flopping on Planned Parenthood may be one of the biggest PR blunders in this still-young decade. But considering that I already did three blog posts in a row about the topic, I’m going to shift gears (Finally!) and blog about something not related to the nonprofit sector, but personally relevant to me.
This week my J452 professor alerted me of a very disturbing trend in recent years. Apparently as a child of the 90s (a.k.a. Generation Y, or a “Millenial”) I’m already defined by the failures of my peers. Great.
Margaret Fiester of the Society for Human Resource Management, or SHRM, says when it comes to parents acting as lobbyists, she’s heard it all — from parents calling to negotiate better salaries or vacation time for their kids to complaining when their child isn’t hired. “Surely you’ve overlooked these wonderful qualities that my child has,” Fiester says parents often tell her.
Michigan State University surveyed more than 700 employers seeking to hire recent college graduates. Nearly one-third said parents had submitted resumes on their child’s behalf, some without even informing the child. One-quarter reported hearing from parents urging the employer to hire their son or daughter for a position. Four percent of respondents reported that a parent actually showed up for the candidate’s job interview.
I want to go on record saying if my mom ever calls my employer requesting that (s)he give me a raise and/or increase my benefits, you have my permission to fire me. No, scratch that. I’ll quit.
I’ve been warned before about the existence of helicopter parents in grade school. In fact, I’ve even witnessed the emergence of them at the University of Oregon. But isn’t the workforce supposed to be the entering into reality? Or is that a marketing slogan designed to persuade me to go to college?
The July 2011 unemployment rate for American youth aged 16 to 24 is 18.1%, down from the July 2010 peak of 19.1%. While the situation is improving, it’s still pretty bleak for young people, and I don’t see how the helicopter parent phenomenon is supposed to help. Perhaps one of the reasons for such a high unemployment rate (as well as the low employment rate of 48.8%) is because youth today aren’t perceived as being independent?
Of course, instead of the logical response of forcing youth (and their parents) to adapt to reality, some are asserting that reality should conform to our pre-conceived expectations:
“You don’t want to block the energy of the parent,” says Neil Howe, who studies and consults on generational trends for the company LifeCourse Associates. “It’s like jujitsu. You just want to channel it in a certain direction.”
Howe says boomers are incredibly close to their children, and in his opinion, that’s a good thing.
Besides, Howe says, there’s little point in resisting engaged parents. School teachers initially tried to push back against helicopter parents a decade ago, Howe notes, but ultimately learned it was counterproductive.
“Every time a teacher [resisted], that parent, who was so attached to their kid, would become that teacher’s worst enemy,” Howe says.
Today, Howe says, many schools now reach out proactively to parents, going so far as to offer online homework programs that allow parents to monitor a child’s progress. Colleges have also adapted, he notes, some even creating an Office of Parent Relations.
Great advice, Neil Howe! Let’s have a world where everyone younger than 30 never has to grow up, ever! I’ve always wanted to be a child living in Neverland!