Millennials and Gen Z’ers sometimes get a bad rap for not having the ability to appropriately handle unpleasant obstacles.
But there’s one millennial who is defying all the stereotypes. Her name is Kristen Hadeed. She’s the owner of a successful business she started while in college which now employees over 600 people. She’s also the author of the book Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (Almost) Everything Wrong.
I recently got to hear Kristen speak about how her business’s success was built on failure. In her talk, she credits her parents for her ability to fail successfully.
What she means by this is she was raised in a home where her parents believed tough love is sometimes necessary for success.
One particular example she shared is when in high school she went to her father for help with her calculus homework. He said, “I can’t help you. Do you know why? I can’t be there when you’re taking your test. If you can’t answer the question now, how are you going to be able to answer it during the test? You need to figure out where you’re stuck and go ask your teacher about it.”
She said she hated him for it, but still felt loved by him. She followed his advice and ended up with the highest grade in her calculus class.
It was this tough love lesson that taught Kristen how to solve her own problems and grow as a person and businesswoman.
As a result, she uses this same tough love approach to successfully lead her employees who 90% are college students. This approach instills confidence in her employees even when they screw up royally, and gives them ownership over their successes.
Do you fit the “lawnmower parent” stereotypes?
Not only does Kristen defy the stereotypes of millennials; her parents defy the stereotypes of parents of millennials.
Instead of being “lawnmower parents” who mow down every obstacle their child might face, they allowed her opportunities to learn how to deal with obstacles and failure.
They didn’t “over-help” her, as she says.
But she sees the negative effects of over-helpful parenting in many of the college students who work for her.
She sees their lack of confidence and lack of belief in their own skills.
My colleagues and I see it too in the younger generations we work with. And this is often the cause of their bad rap.
My colleagues and I see firsthand how so many “lawnmower parents” are plowing their way through their child’s career.
Specifically, I experience parents of people as old as 30 calling me wanting to sign their son or daughter up for my career coaching services because their “child” isn’t happy in their current job. (Sometimes they call me without their son or daughter knowing it!)
A colleague of mine who’s on the other side of the table in HR and recruiting experiences it too. She witnesses parents who try to involve themselves in their “child’s” interview process or negotiate salary for their “children.”
(I use quotes around “child” and “children” because these are actually adults I’m referring to.)
My tough love for you
I’m all for helping people who aren’t happy in their current job find something better. That’s what I do!
BUT, I won’t take on a client who cannot take the initiative to contact me directly.
And my colleague says she will never hire a candidate whose parents get involved in the interview process.
So if this is something you as a parent are doing, stop it now before you further hurt your adult child’s chances of landing a job.
If you’re the “child” whose parents are doing this, don’t allow it! Your career is at stake!
This is my tough love to those who are or have lawnmower parents!
It’s not my business who’s paying for it
Now some parents will say to me, “Well I’m calling for my son because I’m the one who’ll be paying for your services!”
It’s not my business who’s paying for it. But it is my business who I’ll be working with. And I need to talk to them. Not their parents.
I have a client who’s still a college student. I can’t say for sure if she got the money for the career coaching services from her parents or not because her parents stayed out of the situation. She took the initiative to reach out to me on her own. She knew her goals and knew what she wanted to accomplish with the coaching.
This is why she’s now my client. These are the type of clients I want to work with. It has nothing to do with their age and everything to do with their initiative.
If a client can’t take the initiative to contact me directly and complete my simple intake form on their own, they’ll never be able to do the homework required in my coaching program.
There have been a couple of cases where I have taken a client whose parents called me, only because I knew the parents personally. And even then I regretted it.
Their children were the clients who either had a bad attitude throughout the coaching process, or they didn’t use all the sessions their parents had paid for. To me this is a waste of their parents’ money, and I never want anyone to feel like they’ve wasted their money with me.
Another way “lawnmower parenting” can hurt your child’s career
I have a millennial client right now who’s great! Her father has stayed out of her career coaching process.
However, she tells me he occasionally involves himself in her networking efforts without her permission.
And he does so in the wrong ways. He does all the things I teach her NOT to do, therefore undoing much of what she and I have already worked on.
How to help your son or daughter the right way
I understand parents want to help their children make connections that can lead to good jobs. And job seekers should begin their networking efforts with who they know, including their parents.
But, if you’re a parent wanting to help in this way, I suggest first brushing up on your own networking skills with my on-demand networking course and reading my free blog posts on networking etiquette.
Don’t assume you already know everything about networking. Especially if it’s been a while since the last time you’ve had to look for a job. Even my adult clients who happen to have millennial children first come to me not knowing how to network in today’s job market.
Next, I suggest not to put pressure on your contacts when making introductions. Never make them feel obligated to talk to your son or daughter. No one likes to be on the receiving end of being put on the spot.
Instead, ask if they’re willing and if their schedule allows to talk with your son or daughter.
If they say no, thank them and maybe ask if they know of anyone else they feel comfortable recommending to talk to your son or daughter.
If they say yes, give your son or daughter their contact info and leave it up to your child to reach out to your contact.
Then, you can help your child from behind the scenes. Like helping him or her think of appropriate questions to ask your contact. And how to respect your contact’s time. Teach them this type of etiquette they can apply throughout their careers.
But do not make the arrangements for your son or daughter. Do not speak for them. By all means never attend the meeting with them. And do not nag them about whether or not they made the call. Give them ownership over their choices by letting it be their choice to call your contact or not.
Instead of being known as a “lawnmower parent” who mows down your child’s obstacles, defy the stereotypes and be the parent who builds up opportunities for your son and daughter to learn how to take initiative and ownership over their career.
I guarantee this will make them more successful than you can imagine!
“Take the bubble wrap off and let them walk into their mistakes.” Kristen Hadeed
- College Professor Warns: How Not to Be a Lawn Mower Parent by Dr. Karen Francher
- A New Kind of Nightmare Parent Is Calling Their Kids’ Employers by Katie Warren
- Why “Can I Pick Your Brain?” Is the Wrong Approach