Guess what, parents? You know more about your kids' careers than you think. More surprisingly, your kids actually want to hear it.
That's one of the findings from a massive survey on parents, kids, and the workplace that LinkedIn prepared in connection with its Bring In Your Parents Day, which encourages kids to bring their parents to work and explain to them exactly what they do all day. The survey polled more than 15,000 adults of all ages. Nearly 60 percent of professionals thought their parents had valuable career advice to share, but that their parents weren't imparting that advice to them.
Parents, it would seem, agree: Thirty-five percent believe they could help their kids in their careers, but they hold back for fear they don't understand their kids' jobs well enough, or that their advice won't be welcome.
"Most parents, once their kids are in their first jobs, they kind of step back," says Suzy Welch, a best-selling author and career expert. She's also married to Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE. "They want to give their opinions and they want to be present, but they feel like it's not their place anymore."
While she acknowledges this as the cultural reality, Welch herself is having none of it, and doesn't think other parents need to conform to it, either. As a parent, she says, it is totally your place to give career advice. And it doesn't matter that much if you don't understand what your kids do all day or even much about what their company does. "Your parents really know you," says Welch. "They have a wealth of advice about how you interact with the world, about your strengths and weaknesses."
Welch isn't saying that a parent who has never worked in his or her child's field is going to be able to give specific career guidance. She just says there's no reason parents have to stop giving advice just because their kids are drawing a paycheck.
There are so many things parents can address, says Welch, that are unrelated to what she calls "the content of the work." Is your kid a team player? Taking enough risk? Too much risk? Listening actively? "The role you play is in asking questions," says Welch, adding that her son works in the gaming industry and that no, she really doesn't understand the detail of what he does all day. But she can certainly have a conversation with him, and recently did, about whether he was taking enough risk in his career.
Welch herself comes from a long line of parents who didn't ease up after their kids entered the workforce. Her grandmother, Welch says, never had a paying job, instead devoting herself to raising her kids. Yet when Welch began work as a reporter in Miami, her grandmother was firm: "Make sure you like everyone you work with, even if you don't like them," she said.
"She was talking about the newsroom, about how journalists can form cabals, and about how I shouldn't play into that," says Welch. "It was fantastic advice."