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Helicopter Parenting Can Ruin Your Child's Chances of Getting a Job

07/16/2013 02:20 pm ET | Updated Sep 15, 2013
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If you thought helicopter parenting ended at elementary school graduation, think again.

Today, more and more parents are meddling in their adult children's job searching efforts. In fact, CNN recently reported on this phenomenon, in which helicopter parents will call hiring managers and potential bosses to inquire on the status of their child's job application -- or worse, ask why their kid wasn't hired.

Of course, as a mom of two young boys, I certainly understand the desire to want to protect your children. After all, who wants to see their child struggle and suffer? But the reality is that children need to experience failure in their lives -- whether it's being cut from the soccer team or wondering why the employer didn't respond back after a job interview. It's from those failures that kids build character, strength and resilience.

As the Founder and CEO of FlexJobs, I had the very strange experience of being confronted by one of these helicopter parents, and let's just say it was not pretty. It happened awhile back, when I interviewing candidates for a new position. The job market being what it is, we had many more candidates than needed. After choosing the top handful, we sent out emails to the rest of the applicants thanking them for sending us their applications. Soon thereafter, I received a hostile email from a mother whose (grown) son had applied for the position, but had received my "Thanks but no thanks email." She made hostile threats -- including suing the company -- because her son had not been selected.

When I contacted the man who had applied for the position, guess who answered the phone? Yes, the mother. She yelled at me, and after some persuasion, finally allowed her son to speak with me. Her son was totally embarrassed at how his mother had reacted, and rationally understood why he hadn't been chosen as a top finalist for the job.

As we said our goodbyes, I urged him to not let his mom call his potential employers in the future -- and he wholeheartedly agreed. So to all the helicopter parents who want to control their children's job search, here's a piece of advice.

Back off.

It's never a good idea to become directly involved in your child's job application or hiring process. You are doing your kids a favor to let them find a solution to their problem, rather than you finding it and serving it to them on a silver platter. The reality is that you won't always be around to help them, and all your hovering won't help when they flail -- and fall -- when they do try to leave the nest. They need to learn that adversity is a part of life, but if you're persistent and persevere, you can achieve great things.

And as for the misbehaving mom? Well, she ended up calling back later and apologized for her bad (and unprofessional) attitude. While I accepted the apology, it definitely didn't change the outcome for her son. In the end, helicopter parents need to stop hovering so they can give their children the opportunity to take flight.