On the spectrum of helicopter parents, I hover somewhere in the middle of all the hovering. I've been known to hand feed my 6-year-old daughter bites of broccoli if she's too distracted to get the job done. I hold myself back from adding activities to our calendar, restricting my kids to a mere "too many." I won't comment on how many bottoms I'm wiping on any given week.
But hope reigns eternal. I'm saying it now, and hoping I can live it later: I will not try to hook my kids up with job opportunities when they hit their teenage years. I won't pick up that Gap application for them. I certainly won't pick up the phone. I'll force myself to let them try on their own -- and more importantly, flounder and fail on their own. Because, as any working adult knows, getting the right job at 16, or 18, or 22 years old is not the point. Developing scrappiness, integrity, and work ethic is the point, and too much assistance thwarts the achievement of what matters most.
Lately, my QuadJobs partners and I have been spending a lot of time with college students, watching them navigate the job market for the first time. It's like "Scared Straight" for helicopter parents.
Plain as day, I see the kids who've developed self-efficacy, whose parents haven't pre-chewed their meat for them since birth. These students are not entitled. They're not narcissistic. They show up on time, do the job and are respectful. In a nutshell, they defy the stereotypes we read about millennials. No doubt, these students are going places. They're not perfect, but they're learning to be professional and are trying their best -- just as generations before them have done.
I want my kids to be like them. Right now they're 2, 4, and 6 years old. Every year between now and their employment age, I'm going to try hard to ditch my own playbook and let them run with the ball.
Granting them independence won't happen overnight. (If I stopped wiping certain bottoms cold turkey, it would be a mistake.) But if you get a call from me in 15 years and I'm asking you to talk to my kid about an internship at your firm, you have my full permission to hang up.