My friend, Pam, was thrilled when her teenage daughter landed a job. As an HR person herself, though, she was surprised when her daughter's new manager called to speak with her. After all, it wasn't Pam's new job--it was her daughter's.

Well, the reason for the manager's phone call can be summed up in two words: helicopter moms.

Yes, I know the term should be "helicopter parents" but it's the moms in this story. See, the manager was checking to make sure that a four- to five-hour shift wouldn't be too hard on Pam's daughter. She was tired of moms calling to complain that their little darlings were tired. She was even more tired of finding mom behind the counter, having sent the child home because the shift was too long.

And, as a side note, the manager let Pam know she shouldn't be calling and asking for a raise for her child either. Pam and the manager had a good conversation about the ridiculous nature of the whole thing, but the conversation should never have happened. Let me restate that: The moms of other employees should never have put the manager in the position of needing to have this conversation.

If you're a mom who is concerned that your teen can't stand on his or her feet for four hours, plant your own behind on the couch and stay there. Here's the reality:

  • Working a five-hour shift may make feet hurt. It may even make your little darling's back hurt. Your contribution should be to tell your child to use her first paycheck to buy some more comfortable shoes.
  • Under no circumstances should you do work for your child at their job. First of all, you were not hired, so you can't do the work. Second, if I found you working behind the counter I would call the police and have you arrested for trespassing. 
  • You are teaching your child many, many lessons in behaving like this. The first lesson is that your child is incapable of doing hard things. The second lesson is that mom does not trust them to solve their own problems. The third lesson is that mom will rush in and save them from any small difficulty. You know what this gets you? This gets you a 35-year-old living in your basement.

If you want what is best for your child, the best thing is for you to back off. A part-time job as a teenager can be an invaluable tool, but only if you let your teen handle it. If you jump in to save your child from every hardship, you damage your child.

The only time you should jump in is if the police need to be involved. Otherwise, you coach your child on how to handle it. Yes, some managers treat employees poorly. Part of life. Yes, sometimes a paycheck is incorrect. Coach your teen on how to speak to the boss about getting it fixed. Do not solve everything. In fact, you should probably just stay out of the place your teen works. If you need to pick up your child, just wait in the parking lot.

You want your child to be a successful adult. Everyone else does too. So, back off.

Published on: Jul 18, 2018