Dear sweet, sweet parents of Millennials (those precious little snowflakes born around 1980-2000, give or take a year or two) As the parent of two Millennials myself, and a Human Resources professional, I have a few words of advice for you: Let. Them. Go.
I routinely read in HR career magazines and blog stories about how parents step in on behalf of their children. We’ve been doing that their entire lives, and it seems that it’s too difficult to quit. Here are examples I recently read. A father called his son’s employer to ask that his son be given a pay increase. A mom called to say that her child was sick and unable to come to an interview. Another parent called the prospective employer to ask why his child didn’t get the job he interviewed for. Or, my personal favorite, the young adult who actually was texting his mom to ask her the answers to the interview questions during his interview.
Now, you may think these little accounts are fabricated. I assure you, they are not. Parents, it is time we let our not-so-little-ones give it a go on their own. I know it’s scary! They may fail. They may not get the job or promotion. Even if they do get the job, they may not make much money starting out or have trouble making new friends at work. But if you let them try, at least try it on their own, they just might succeed. Yes, even without your help.
The plan in raising children isn’t to keep them bound to us for all eternity. We should desire to raise happy, healthy kids who are able to function as adults. That’s not to say that they shouldn’t come to us and other people for advice, guidance, and the occasional pat on the back, but there comes a point in time when we must cut the proverbial apron strings.
I love that my adult daughters (born in 1987 and 1991) still call me almost daily and sometimes ask for advice or want me to look over their insurance options or ask me a “Dr. Mom” question. That’s a sign of a healthy relationship. My husband and I have given them advice about how to conduct themselves in interviews or how to respond to work situations, but we have also told them to figure it out.
Win, lose, or draw, there are some things that young adults have to just jump in and learn on their own. Is it difficult as a parent to watch your child try and fail? Of course it is! But difficult doesn’t always mean bad. A lot of times, the difficulty is what makes the achievement or failure worthwhile.
Parents of Millennials, take some advice from Dr. Suess…
When we dropped our daughters off at college and got ready to leave them, I gave each of them the book Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Suess. My favorite quote from that book is:
“You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t. Because, sometimes, you won’t.”
The hard part of parenting is not the first part of that quote. Most of us have the encouragement part down! It’s the second part that trips us up. We do not want to think our kids may fail because we don’t want them to think of themselves as failures. So, we intervene to do anything and everything we can to make sure they, along with all of the other children, get a trophy.
Mom, when your child is old enough to get a real job, it’s time to let go. Even if they still live with you, it’s time to let go. Allow your child to either succeed or fail, and to do it on their own. The world isn’t always a nice place, and tough things will happen to your children. It’s life, and you can’t stop it. But, you can help your child navigate disappointment, pain, failure, and success by giving them the opportunity to experience life as independent young adults. Send them off on their own great adventures with this little bit of encouragement, again from our friend, Dr. Suess:
“You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.”
Is your Millennial child in the job hunt? Instead of taking the wheel for them, share these job interview tips, and then let them go…
You’ll also enjoy this episode from This Grit and Grace Life podcast: Your Mom Always Said This (And She Was Right)- 079