If your parents are anything like Robert Samuelson, they're worried about you.
Samuelson, a syndicated columnist, wrote a piece recently in which he hoped his kids turn out OK despite our difficult economy.
I have three 20-somethings, and although all are now gainfully occupied in jobs or school, I am awash in anxiety about their future. Will jobs be there? Will they be stable? Will they pay enough? Will they encourage our children to start families of their own?
The less parents know about our jobs, the more nervous they become. And as seemingly every job becomes more technical and digital, it's like we speak a different language from our moms and dads.
That's why, when people ask your parents what you're doing with your life, all they can muster is "I'm not sure exactly. I think it's something with computers?"
Why should our parents know what we do at work?
- They won't keep asking (as much).
- They won't worry about our wellbeing (as much).
- They may even help with networking; you never know who they'll bump into.
Keep in mind these five key points, and your parents will finally understand what the heck you do all day.
1. Your parents won't "get it" right away
I work in PR and have defined "hashtag" for my parents at least five times. Eventually, some recent hashtag comes up in conversation, and they inevitably ask "Can you tell me what a hashtag is again?"
From what I've gathered, Baby Boomers cannot seem to wrap their heads around our handy Twitter tool. In short, be patient.
2. The simpler, the better
Don't waste your breath explaining how you work with tools like Google+ Hangouts, join.me and Basecamp. Our parents are familiar with Google, yes, but only as way to find stuff on the Web. In fact, some parents might think Google is the Internet and not a way to explore the Internet.
Instead, stick to the basics.
You: At work, our team does a lot of projects together and sometimes we collaborate with people outside the office too.
Your Mom: Oh, that's so nice!
3. Compare your job to something from the '70s
You: So you know how people used to call and ask if you want to list your business in the Yellow Pages?
Your Dad: Right, OK. I'm with you.
You: Well, my job is kind of like that, except instead of the Yellow Pages, I'm building an app that collects business names and then cross-references the businesses with social media chatter, user behavior and reviews from about 20 different sites. Does that make sense?
***Five long seconds of silence***
Your Dad: Um, I think so. Can you explain "hashtag" one more time.
4. No need for devices
Bear in mind our parents did not have sleek laptops and WiFi in their 20s. Or Tinder.
Also, isn't it incredible people got married 30 years ago without the Internet?
Anyway, the more technology you need to explain your job, the faster you will confuse your folks. Once you open up a phone or tablet and start zipping around, your dad is going to resign himself and say something like "You know, when I was your age..."
...and the moment is gone.
5. Remember, they gave birth to you
Oh, your parents. You know how they worry. All they want is the assurance you have a good-paying job with a future. In other words, a career. (That's why to stay competitive, you need to blog.)
So take five minutes, sit down on the couch and give your parents "the talk."
No, not that talk. The one about what you do for a living. #awkward
Good luck helping your mom with that hashtag.