Lisa writes: According to The Wall Street Journal, the generation that invented “Take Your Child To Work Day,” is hoping their offspring will return the favor. An article in the Journal this week discussed the practice among many large companies of involving parents in their child’s employment. And by child, I mean adult.
Corporate giants, like Google and LinkedIn, have held “Take your Parents to Work Day,” a sort of cosmic payback for the generation that so enjoyed the annual rite of taking their kids to work. One large insurance company invites parents of interns (again, just noting these are adults) to open houses so that they can become familiar and comfortable with their college children’s workplace.
This is wrong, as they say, on so many levels.
The argument runs that companies can use parental involvement to attract and hold talent. Parents who feel thrilled or grateful to their child’s employer are more likely to encourage that child (did I mention that they are adults?) to remain with said employer.
But for me, here is where this breaks down. Our kids need their own world, a place that they do not see through our eyes, but through their own. If they take us to their jobs, they will view their workplace through our lens. They will hear our judgements, they will feel our enthusiasm even if it does not match their own. We have a permanent place in our kids’ heads, the result of a lifetime of listening to our voices, but we shouldn’t have a place in their office.
We are not them. I am not sure that it matters what I think. My kids need to love their jobs or at least get up in the morning and show up and do them. So unless you tell me that the job is dangerous, or has the potential for some kind of long-term damage, it does not matter at all what I think. It only matters what my kid thinks.
A job is a little like a marriage in that only those who are involved in it really know what is going on. My kids should not stay in their job (or for that matter, marriage) because of what I think of their relationship’s prospects, failure, opportunities or success. I only know what I hear from them. It is only my opinion and it is their life.
Companies hope to attach young employees with great involvement by parents. Using me to attract my kid or hold on to him, would be like a young woman trying to appeal to me so that my son would date her…strange would be the kindest thing I could say.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love to tag along with them to work. I am a totally invasive parent and am dying of curiosity. But if I am certain of one thing it is this – my young adult children need to make an employer think that they are young adults and not children. They need to establish themselves as independent beings, capable of performing a task. And while I would like nothing more than to satisfy my curiosity and tell their employers how cute they were when they were small, I am not sure this would aid in their professional development.
The article summed up by saying that employers hope that the involvement of parents will boost morale. I get that it is hard to transition from school to the working world and that kids can feel very uncertain, lost, and insecure. That’s when we parents come in, not on a visit to the office, but as a sympathetic ear on the phone line, reminding them that major changes are tough, and that at this moment, like all others, we have every confidence in the world that they will figure it out.
In a limited context, I see no disadvantage to “Take Your Mama to Work Days.” The operative word is limited. Parents may be curious about what their adultescents do at work, and want to support and understand them. But over-involvement hurts both generations. The last thing people in their 20s need today is generally Dad or Mom calling their shots.
SLOUCHING TOWARD ADULTHOOD http://ow.ly/lt0pB
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