One of the reasons we don't hire teenagers to run businesses is that we want adults. Adults should be independent, but a new survey shows that parents are continuing to parent their adult children way too far into adulthood. USA Today reports that the survey found:

  • 76 percent reminded their adult children of deadlines they need to meet, including for schoolwork
  • 74 percent made appointments for them, including doctor's appointments
  • 15 percent of parents with children in college had texted or called them to wake them up so they didn't sleep through a class or test. 

Not to sound like a crabby old lady, but my parents had no clue what my deadlines were in school or in work. Sure, they knew when finals' week was but otherwise, I was 100 percent responsible for my own schedule in college and ever after.

Now, as a parent, I understand the temptation. Seeing your child fail is painful and if you can just prevent that, then all will be well with the world. But, failure is good--and the sooner they fail the better. If your child flunks a class in 9th grade because she forgot she had a test, she'll be able to make it up and go on with life. If she has you hovering over her, reminding her of all deadlines and holding her hand to get things done, when she finally does fail, it will be spectacular.

With the recent college admissions scandal--where parents cheated for their students and sometimes the student had no clue--we're hearing a lot more about Snow Plow Parents rather than Helicopter Parents. These parents don't just hover--they push everything out the way for their little darlings.

The New York Times shared some experience from Psychologist Madeline Levine that include these examples of failure at college due to snow plow parents:

One came home because there was a rat in the dorm room. Some didn't like their roommates. Others said it was too much work, and they had never learned independent study skills. One didn't like to eat food with sauce. Her whole life, her parents had helped her avoid sauce, calling friends before going to their houses for dinner. At college, she didn't know how to cope with the cafeteria options -- covered in sauce.

I understand food aversions but ensuring that your child never sees sauce on food will not help her in life. Learning how to handle something you don't like on your plate will. (I'm not even arguing she has to learn to eat sauce--although that would be great--but what on earth is going to happen when this child goes to a business dinner and gets presented with pasta with red sauce?)

The survey also found that 16 percent of parents helped their adult children "write all or part of a job or internship application." This is only going to lead to your child getting a job that they aren't qualified for. Thankfully, 84 percent of parents don't do that. Be in the majority.

This isn't to say that adults don't ever have people proofread or give feedback. Of course, they do! Heck, that's why we have editors. But giving feedback is different than doing the writing for someone. 

Businesses want to hire fully functional adults. If you are a snow plow parent, put your plow in park and hand your child a shovel. They need to learn how to be an adult.

This is not to say I'm a perfect example, of course. As part of full disclosure, I had difficulty finding a job after I finished graduate school. (Perhaps, in retrospect, a master's degree in political science wasn't the most marketable of degrees.) Because of this, my parents paid my rent for a few months while I searched for a job. (I had a scholarship and a stipend that paid my way in graduate school.) Finally, my parents said, "this is your last check. You can either get a job or move home." I had a temp job by the end of the week and have not relied on them financially since. 

A bit of tough love and an apartment in a somewhat sketchy area of town can be wonders for helping your children reach adulthood. Let them give it a try. 

Published on: Mar 19, 2019
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