Why It’s Important to Let Children Learn for Themselves in Adulthood

Years ago, it would have been rather shocking to hear that parents were attempting to negotiate their adult children’s salaries or even tag along with them on job interviews — but, in today’s current society, it’s not as uncommon as one might imagine.

A recent article in Forbes revealed that many parents currently intervene into their grown children’s careers in a variety of ways. The article cited a study conducted by Michigan State University that found that 31 percent of the employers in the survey had encountered situations in which parents were submitting resumes on their children’s behalves, and 4 percent of those employers had even seen parents accompany their children on their interviews.

What is it that would lead parents to want to take such measures to help their children? Fairmont Private Schools counselor Jill Thomas, LMFT, thinks much of the reasoning has to do with parents worrying about their children’s futures and simply wanting what’s best for them.

“There is so much pressure for our children to achieve greatness, get into the best schools and colleges, be the best all-star on the team, be the piano prodigy, and the social pressure is easy to get swept up in — even for parents,” she said. “We buy in to the idea that if our children are not the best of the best, their lives as adults will be less than perfect.”

Rather than physically going with their children to interviews and doing other things for them that the adult kids should be doing on their own, there are many additional ways parents can support their children as they pursue their career goals. Thomas suggests parents share with their children what their first job interview experiences were like — feelings they had (such as fear and excitement), what they thought they did well, and what (if anything) they wish they had avoided.

Parents can also offer to complete mock interviews with their children, but it’s important to remember not to push them into doing so if it’s not what they want. More than anything, the best thing parents can be for their children during the job-seeking process is supportive, even when they don’t get the jobs they were hoping to obtain.

“Rejection just means you have an opportunity to learn from the experience as you move in another direction,” Thomas said.

When parents become heavily involved in their children’s resumes, salary negotiations, interviews, and other aspects of their future careers, not only is the behavior viewed negatively by potential employers, but it can also create negative mindsets within the adult children. It gives off the underlying message that parents don’t believe their children can truly accomplish what they’re seeking on their own, crushing their spirits and their levels of self-confidence.

Ultimately, the best way for individuals to learn and grow in life is for them to gain experience themselves — whether those experiences are good or bad, successful or unsuccessful, simple or difficult, joyous or full of painful emotions. The important thing is that they discover their strengths and areas that need improvement so that they can develop their own senses of value and worth.

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