This week, The New York Times wrote about LaVar Ball, the father of the U.C.L.A. basketball star Lonzo Ball, who has played a central role in his son’s dealings with professional teams and apparel companies and may epitomize a model that extends far beyond the basketball court: the helicopter parent of the workplace.
The Los Angeles Lakers were not deterred by LaVar Ball, selecting Lonzo Ball with the second pick in the National Basketball Association draft on Thursday night. But as parents swoop in — showing up at their children’s job interviews, trying to negotiate their salaries and other benefits and even intervening to smooth out their work-related difficulties — some organizations appear to be struggling with the increased meddling.
We asked readers to send us their stories about being a helicopter parent, having such a parent or seeing the phenomenon play out in their workplace. We heard from hundreds. These responses were edited for length and clarity.
‘I am not sure that his father realized how bizarre and unusual it was for him to be present.’
I was medical director of a hospitalist group. I had recruited a young physician out of residency and on the day of the site visit and interview, his father came with him. At first I thought he had just given him a ride but as it turned out, his father stayed with us throughout the daylong visit. They basically interviewed together. I took opportunities to speak to him separately from his father to get a better sense of his personality. The young man was actually a very good physician with a pleasant personality who did not need his father’s assistance to have a successful interview. In fact, that his father attended the interview gave me pause about hiring him initially, but in the end I relied upon my gut feelings and hired him regardless of the helicoptering. I am not sure that his father realized how bizarre and unusual it was for him to be present. If I had had two equivalent candidates to choose from that day, one with a parent and one without, I would have chosen the candidate who showed up on their own.
— Matthew Connolly
‘I am my kids’ personal coach through their years of club sports, academic tutoring, college applications, and in future job search, applications and salary negotiations.’
Being a helicopter parent of two millennials, I think helicopter parenting arose out of a social and economic necessity due to today’s stiff competition for colleges and jobs that my husband and I never had. Just like having a personal recruiter to help me locate and negotiate each of my jobs, I am my kids’ personal coach through their years of club sports, academic tutoring, college applications, and in future job search, applications and salary negotiations.
— Laryn Lee
‘Last semester, not once but twice there were two different parents who came to class in place of their kid.’
I’m a millennial finishing up my last year of graduate school, and last semester, not once but twice there were two different parents who came to class in place of their kid. Given that there were only five students in the class, and it’s a discussion-based seminar, it created situations in which everybody was negatively impacted … So often lost in the discussion of helicopter parents is that in ‘helping’ their children these parents negatively affect how other students and professionals see their sons or daughters.
“Dr. X — your mommy just called.”
My boyfriend’s mom definitely has helicopter tendencies. It is very bizarre to me — we are both 29 but I was raised to be very independent. We both went to medical school and are now in residency. My favorite story is that she apparently somehow got ahold of the information about the benefits offered by his hospital and was concerned about them or had questions about them. So without asking him about it decided to call the hospital herself and ask. The staff found this to be pretty amusing and apparently made an announcement over the intercom in the operating room saying something to the effect of “Dr. X — your mommy just called.”
‘The ugly truth is that current college students and recent grads NEED a lot more support than previous generations. They have debt levels and pressures that are big and very real.’
I am a college professor and career coach, and the ugly truth is that current college students and recent grads NEED a lot more support than previous generations. They have debt levels and pressures that are big and very real. Some parents do take this to an extreme, but many parents are just struggling to figure out how to help in a job market that they don’t understand.
— Emily Benson
‘I pushed right back and told the stepfather that the kid had better grow up and learn to get a job on his own and that yelling at me was certainly not going to help get the job. Ridiculous.’
A couple of years ago I was supposed to interview a young man for a temp summer job. I called reception when he didn’t show up at the appointed time and they hadn’t seen him either. Then there was a shift change at reception and the young man came in, didn’t know my name or what department in which he was seeking a job, didn’t know what time he was supposed to be here either. And he was with his stepfather … When I went to get him I was not only surprised that his stepfather was with him but that the stepfather yelled at me for making his son wait. Since I knew the story about him not knowing my name, I pushed right back and told the stepfather that the kid had better grow up and learn to get a job on his own and that yelling at me was certainly not going to help get the job. Ridiculous.
‘My parents considered me to be a competent human being and had their own lives to lead. I guess I was lucky.’
I would have been too embarrassed to accept a position had one of my parents interfered with the application or interview process. But my parents considered me to be a competent human being and had their own lives to lead. I guess I was lucky.