Parents Are Getting Overly Involved In Their Kids’ Careers And It’s Helping No One

I’ve always known I’m a bit of an overprotective mom and it’s not solely from my kids reminding me of this on a daily basis. I know I do things a lot of other parents may not do because it makes me feel better—like texting them a few times when they are at a sleepover.

Some may even call me a helicopter parent because of my checking up on them, or the fact that I take their phones away at 9pm every night, and still make them lunch and breakfast a lot even though they are capable of doing it themselves.  First, I parent this way because it’s what feels normal and natural to me. But also, I like doing things for my children to make them feel loved and cared for– it’s nice to make them lunch and sit and eat it with them on the occasional afternoon when we are all home together.

Parents and employer
Some parents are inserting themselves into their young adults’ workplaces. (nullplus/Shutterstock)

The way we parent stems from the way were parented; we often do things our parents didn’t do for us, but wish they had. We also avoid doing certain things they did because we hated it and felt like our parents were overreacting. (A coed party I was invited to in the 7th grade comes to mind– I was the only one not able to go and I felt like an outcast.)

But other things come into play as well. Some of us have anxiety, or have been through something traumatic and worry about our kids more than other parents do, and there’s nothing wrong with that so long as it doesn’t interfere (too much) with our child’s natural development–my teens have no problem reminding me when I am just being anxious and a lot of the time they are right.

They appreciate when I make them breakfast or their favorite meal when they aren’t feeling well. But they are also very aware there are a lot of things I won’t do for them, especially since they are older. Like getting overly involved in their career, or a minor work dilemma for example.

Report on Parents and Young Adults at Work 

If you are wondering who the hell would do that and think a parent has no place calling their 21-year-old child’s boss, according to an article in Quartz at Work, it’s definitely a thing and it’s becoming a problem.

The article reports, “Parents are calling to arrange interviews for perfectly functional adult children, inserting themselves into schedule or salary negotiations, and haranguing a manager by phone or email for failing to hire or promote their precious offspring.”


Talk about stunting your kids’ growth. Talk about interfering with their ability to become a responsible adult with their own voice. I didn’t realize this was a thing until last week when my three kids and I were listening to our favorite radio program on the way to stuff our faces with fast food after a trying Monday.

My oldest reminded me as I paid for his fries he would be humiliated and never talk to me again if I set foot in his place of employment to get in the middle of a conflict. I reassured him not to worry about it as I wiped ketchup from the corner of his mouth. I love him and while I may worry and check in with him more than he is comfortable with, I am excited for this phase in his life and I’ll be worrying more about where I am going to retire than about trying to control his career.

Shouldn’t parents of the world be too busy trying to make sure they don’t screw up their own careers to get involved in their children’s? Parents should be more worried about when they are going to make it to the golf course, and how they can have some sexy time whenever they want when their kids are gone?

By the time our children enter the age where they are going on interviews and selling themselves, we should let them. We have most likely taught them all we could (like to wipe ketchup off their face when they feel it dripping down their lip), we should all be too tired for such nonsense and rejoicing that we’ve raised them to handle this stuff themselves.

But I had no idea how many parents actually do make time to insert themselves into their kids’ work drama or careers. Call after call came into the radio station with people telling tales about parents who have come to visit their child’s boss regarding issues such as their kid being late or how they didn’t get a raise.

One woman called in and said she has parents who are calling in sick for their kids. Mind you, these “kids” and in their 20s and are being paid an excellent salary “they all have Master’s Degrees,” she said.

I was floored.

Quartz reports that parental interference goes from setting up job interviews to “bringing cakes to potential employers, calling the hiring manager in the guise of an employment reference to heap praise on their son.” I thought the whole point of parenting really hard during our children’s younger years was so they could grow into responsible, confident adults who could do this hard work for themselves.

Calling up a workplace and scolding them because you thought Junior should have gotten the promotion is flat-out wrong. I have a feeling Junior won’t have much of a future with that company if the calls from his parents (who think they know what’s best for a company that isn’t theirs) don’t stop. Not to mention,  interfering sounds like the fastest way ever to get your kids to stop talking to you because they are embarrassed and have to clean up a mess their parents made. 

We have a job to do when they are younger: it’s to prepare them to take on stuff like this as adults in a healthy productive way. It’s one thing to be available to your child for support and advice, and quite another to step into a place in their lives that isn’t yours to step into. Their career should be off-limits as should their marriage, but that’s a whole different article.

Other Stories You Might Enjoy:

Parents, Please Don’t Attend Your Young Adult’s Job Interview (Seriously)

Kelly Corrigan’s Advice to the Class of 2019: You Are Your Own Good News

About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

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