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Career Corner: Cutting The Cord

As much as you may want to place your child inside a plastic bubble to protect them from rejection, it is important that you step back and let them grow from the experience. – Courtesy photo / Edward stojakovic (CC BY 2.0)

By Angela Copeland

I could write a book about the information I’m about to share. If you’re a parent with an adult child, this is for you. Before I go too far, let me say this: I know you love your child. I know you want them to do well and when they’re struggling you want to help. But, this is the thing, when it comes to your child’s job search you are very likely hurting them.

From time to time, I receive a request from a parent. They want to speak to me about their (30-year-old) child’s job search. This used to happen occasionally but it’s becoming the norm. When a concerned parent reaches out I respond with a friendly note saying I’d love to help and to please have the child contact me. Recently, a frustrated parent let me know that they are not a helicopter parent. Their child is just busy and they’re (the parent) better at this.

I shared my experience with a few friends, and it turned out I’m not the only one seeing this pattern. One friend noted that parents call a university scholarship office. The university adds the child to a list – the “not a good candidate” list. I heard another story of parents calling in sick to their child’s work for them. A recruiter shared that parents call on behalf of their children regularly. Another friend shared that a parent asked to sit in on their adult child’s job interview.

These are all examples that should make any parent cringe. Please hear me when I say this: you are not helping your children. You are hurting them. People notice when you ask questions about your adult child’s career. And, you’re keeping your child from learning how to do these things on their own.

Companies take note and they don’t just judge you; they judge your child. They assume that your adult child is a coddled baby who is unable to function. They assume that your child should not be given responsibility. They assume your child will not be able to do their own job. And, they most definitely do not want to hire your child.

If you find yourself in a spot where your child is struggling, here are some ideas that will help. Talk to them one on one at home about their job search. Ask them where they’re struggling. Listen to their concerns. Talk to your child about the process of applying for a job. Share your experience. When they get rejected from an interview, offer your support and encouragement. But, do these things from the sidelines.

The minute you jump into your child’s struggling job search, you are certain to make it worse. People will notice, and they will make a point not to hire your child – no matter how talented they may be. Step back, coach from the sidelines, and allow your child to grow.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at

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