I recently read the article in the Wall Street Journal about parents becoming more involved with their Millennia kids at work, entitled “Should You Bring Mom And Dad to the Office? “by Anita Hofschneider. The author reports that kids from that generation have naturally included their parents in social activities at their corporations and internship activities. Companies, like Google, have noticed, and are now responding by more officially including them in job offer interviews, special packages for family consumption about the company, family events, etc. Ms. Hoffschneider mounts statistics of increased productivity with increased parental involvement. The point is also made that this is a bit of a slippery slope and the problem of “helicopter parenting”/privacy issues need to be considered.
Well, this is certainly not empty nest. Lisa Heffernan of the stimulating website Grown and Flown wrote a great response, linked here with several interesting comments. Her very valid point is one that calls for the importance of separation – for the continuing development and growth of both parent and child. This whole “helicopter parenting” thing – where somehow a kid from this Millennia generation cannot make a decision of where to park at his new school without talking to their parent about it (true story) – is getting a bit ridiculous. The term I learned in graduate school for that was “enmeshed”, meaning overly connected, overly involved, too stuck together.
I personally have made decisions to let go. My Millennia son and I have had two long conversations since he left for college five weeks ago. Plus a couple of needed short ones. Texts have gone back and forth – a few emails.
But as I have thought about Ms. Hofschneider’s articles in a more cultural context, I am also aware that, “There’s no place like home”. Dorothy’s ruby red slippers that she could tap three times, be back in Kansas with Auntie Em and be safe. Now that’s not true if you were abused or neglected at home. Perhaps you are even estranged from those parents and the thought of having them involved in ANY decision in your life makes you sick to your stomach. That is a whole other topic.
Maybe we have forgotten as a culture that it is okay to want the support of your mother or father. Not to be controlled by them, not to be overly influenced by them. But supported. “Good job”. It also strikes me that we may need to accept that these Millennia folks are who they are – not necessarily who we (as Boomers or whatever Generation you happen to be) would like them to be – and make the best of it. Perhaps that’s what these companies are doing.
It meant a lot to me that my parents were still living when I received my Ph.D. and began my practice. They, thank goodness, did not randomly visit. I watched two young female reporters who discussed the article, saying they would be mortified if either of their parents “showed up” at their work. Well, of course! The fantasy of the uninvited visit, bringing brownies or pictures of you in diapers, how infantilizing! And we women have had a hard time gaining respect in the work force, sometimes even within our own families. Hence I imagine even more of a sensitivity to this issue.
I don’t want to overreact to this phenomenon in and of itself. Maybe “the truth of the matter” as my father used to say, is that healthy parents will probably use this avenue with their adult kids – guess? Health-fully! Enmeshed or those helicopter folks – well, they will have to be somehow reminded ever so gently that the corporate washroom does not have family stalls.
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