your parents don’t belong in your workplace

If you hoped that the helicopter parenting trend was on the wane, you won’t be happy to learn that last week LinkedIn launched “Bring Your Parent to Work Day,” an initiative to encourage workers to bring their parents to the office to give them “a glimpse into where their kids work.” LinkedIn says they created the event because too many parents don’t understand what their kid does at work and wish they could learn more.

But while the company no doubt sees the event as a way to better integrate young employees into its workforce, it’s a bad move for this generation of workers.

We already know that today’s 20somethings had – as a group — more parental involvement when they were growing up than any other generation in recent history, from parents micromanaging their kids’ social lives to calling their colleges to complain about noisy roommates. This generation also delays launching their careers longer, lives at home longer, and is more financially dependent on their parents than what we’ve seen previously. But once they enter the workforce, it’s in their best interests to become independent, self-reliant professionals – after all, if not now, then when?

But it’s going to be that much harder to do if employers reinforce the idea that parental involvement should continue into this stage of young workers lives too.

Now, certainly there’s nothing wrong with companies allowing employees to bring a parent by the office in a more informal way, just like an employee might have any other visitor stop by because they were in the area or to head to lunch together. But creating entire programs around employees’ parents sends all the wrong signals.

First and foremost, this type of program tells younger employees that their employer doesn’t see them as fully independent adults, untethered from their parents – or assumes that they don’t see themselves that way. (To be clear, fully independent adults can and do choose to talk about work-related topics with their parents all the time – but they don’t require an employer-planned event to do that.)

Since it’s highly unlikely that 50-something employees are bringing their parents to these events, it’s clear that it’s targeting millennials – and is based on the belief that this generation of workers still finds it appropriate to create the type of parent-focused programs that they had in college and grade school.

When employers coddle younger employees like this, what does this mean for how they negotiate raises, give feedback, delegate work, and otherwise interact with them? Are these employees going to get adult raises, adult assignments, and adult feedback – or will they be condescended to there are well?

And if you think that’s an overreaction, the Wall St. Journal recently reported on one company that callsor sends notes to parents when interns achieve their sales goals and another that lets parents listen in when managers describe the details of job offers.

While these bizarre initiatives are limited to a small number of companies, it’s troubling that it’s happening at all and that the media is reporting on it as anything other than a cautionary tale about the dysfunction that arises when adulthood is delayed later and later.

It’s great for parents to coach their kids behind the scenes if the kids want it, but 20somethings should be entering the workplace as the adults they are, which means interacting with their employers in the same way that other mature adults do.

Parents who get overly involved in their grown kids’ professional lives and the employers who cater to them are performing a disservice – and making it tougher for young workers to fully inhabit their new identities as independent, self-sufficient adults. They’re denying them the opportunity to stand on their own, advocate for themselves, make their own mistakes – and to be seen as competent, thoughtful, mature professionals.

I originally published this at U.S. News & World Report.

{ 200 comments… read them below }

  1. Mike C.*

    This millennial believes these sorts of policies are stupid and are nothing more than the result of overpaid consultants coming up with ways to acquire their clients money. It’s the business version of a fake herbal supplement. Big promises and lots of attention, but nothing more than snake oil.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I agree — but I worry that it’s sending millennials really bad signals about their careers and how they’ll be dealt with on other “adult” issues, like raises, assignments, promotions, etc.

      1. Mike C.*

        I think you’re right to worry. Even if millennial like myself roll their eyes, the perception issue is still a big deal. To be honest it’s not something I had considered before, but policies like these really reenforce bad stereotypes.

        1. tcookson*

          Mike C., you’re right. Of all the millennials I know, not one of them would want anything like this. I’m thinking of my daughter and her friends (when they get old enough) and the twenty-somethings I work with. None of them are anything but competent, normal human beings. But the image of millennials presented by the media is that they are too hobbled by parental over-involvement to ever be fully competent at anything, and this trend isn’t helping.

          1. Windchime*

            My kids are both in their mid- to late-twenties, and they would be mortified at the idea of me being involved in their career/job in any way. So who are these twenty-somethings who would actually *want* this kind of parental involvement?

          2. Jessa*

            Right. The whole “millennials are not self-competent adults” trope is so damaging to an entire generation. All these policies and articles about them on other blogs where they’re touted as being the next best in thing, are a nightmare for a generation just trying to get on with their lives.

      2. themmases*

        It does, and I really appreciate that the tone of your post doesn’t imply that millenials want this or are to blame for this trend. I am 26, and no one I know would be interested in involving their parents in their job this way. But lots of us do experience routine condescension on the job, and being treated like interns when we are full-time workers 4-5 years out of school.

        1. Jessa*

          I have no idea who started it, but none of the millennials I know would ever like something like this, or ever bring it up as a good idea.

    2. Laufey*

      This millennial agrees with Mike C. that these policies are stupid, possibly beyond imaging. It’s just another way to encourage our generation to never grow up.

      And really, who really wants that? I like keeping spheres of work vs. friends vs. family. Family day in the office creates too much of an overlap between the work and family sphere.

      1. Al Lo*

        I work in the arts, and my parents still buy tickets to all my shows* (and at my day job, my brother is involved with the organization as a performer, so they come see them for both of our involvement), but that’s very different than coming into my office for the day.

        Also, working in the arts and with non-profit organizations, my parents are donors to my work in several cases, which gives me a certain amount of accountability to them, but no differently than to any of the other donors who support my work.

        However, I source various contractors as part of my job, and I’ve hired my dad’s company for one particular role. Now, his company had a better rate than the company we were previously working; but even aside from that, my company has a pretty good policy of wanting to give business to companies that will benefit our friends/family, where it’s appropriate and cost-effective for us. I appreciate that, as I’ve been able to bring in 3 or 4 different friends’ companies to my company’s roster, and it’s been a mutually beneficial situation in every case.

        *My in-laws don’t get tickets to quite as many shows as my parents do, but they come to probably 75% of what my husband and/or I are directly involved in.

        1. Al Lo*

          (For the record, I’m in my early 30s; on the cusp of generations — right in that GenX/Millennial grey area.)

    3. Yup*

      As a Gen X-er, I feel for you. The perception of my generation when we entered the workforce was that we were a bunch of slackster malcontents, forever doomed by our latchkey/MTV upbringing to accomplish nothing whatsoever while slowly atrophying in our own grunge. (Ironically, this image may have actually prevented the growth of a cottage industry about us.)

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        Wait, you mean I wasn’t supposed to grow out of being a slacker malcontent? To think, I could have spent my life living in my parents basement in my flannel shirt playing space invaders & centipede only emerging to dye my hair neon blue?

      2. tcookson*

        Yup, this pretty much sums up what I came here to say to the millennials as a member of Gen-X. Most people meet very few, if any, of the supposedly “typical” representative of a particular generation.

  2. Anon*

    Even though I guess I technically fall in the “millennial” category, I refuse to take part in the insanity that goes along with it. My parents didn’t raise me that way. Given how hyper-involved classic helicopter parents are, you would think they would have hounded their children to understand what they do for a living.

    I’m lucky that my parents and I work in the same field and at one time the same university. My mom and I talk daily about work related things because no one else understands what we do. I know most people don’t have that.

  3. Jeanne*

    Bring Your Parent to Work Day?!?!? They must be insane. Work places should NOT be encouraging parents to be helicopter parents at work. If their son/daughter can’t explain what they do at work they’re not doing their job right.

    1. Colette*

      I agree that formal programs to bring parents into the workplace are misguided, but one of the drivers behind this idea is the fact that a lot of parents don’t understand what their children do, because a lot of people are working in jobs that didn’t exist 20 or 30 years ago. Some of those jobs are easy to understand, but others are much more difficult to explain succinctly.

      My mom was a teacher, and my dad worked in natural gas – neither of them really understands what I do, because it’s a very different world. That doesn’t mean that I’m not doing my job right.

      1. The IT Manager*

        +1 I barely know how to explain my job to anyone and becuase my parents worked in different industries, they don’t really understand what I do.

        That said, anyone coming into the office to watch me work will be bored out of their minds. I email, IM, and talk on the phone mostly.

        I have taken my parents to my office in the past – almost always on an weekend. They got to see where I worked (sometimes only from the outside since a cubical is not exciting) without disrupting my work.

        1. Colette*

          Yes, my job would be the same.

          In fact, I had a cold last week and worked from home for 2 days, and was asked whether I really did spend all day, every day on the phone.

          1. the gold digger*

            My husband’s dad was an English professor. My husband is an electrical engineer – no advanced degree – who works from home. His parents think he doesn’t really work because he doesn’t go to an office and when he visits them, he’s just on the computer – how hard can it be?

      2. fposte*

        Most of the people in my unit have jobs that wouldn’t be explained merely by watching anyway, unfortunately. “So now I’m on my laptop for 6 hours…”

        1. Bluefish*

          Ditto, Lils. My parents know what industry I work in, and know I’m some sort of analyst, but that’s about it. I doubt they’d really care to know more. I would die of embarassment if, when I was fresh out of college (or even now), my parents came to my workplace. I mean, yeah, when they visit me in the city, and we’re close to my building, I point it out and say, “that’s where I work”. But that’s where it ends.

        2. Tina*

          Lils, I wondered the same thing. I’ve been in my current field for 11 years. A couple weeks ago, my dad said “what’s your job again?” (And this was just after he was offering my free services to his neighbor, though he didn’t know what I could actually help with.) Realistically, how much do my parents need or want to know? We discuss it in generalities, but that’s fine. I don’t need a play-by-play of his job either.

        3. Kat*

          I don’t get this either! My parents know where I work and that I work in the fundraising department, but they don’t need to know that I research wealthy people, run reports, and occasionally write things about science. And if I brought them to work with me, they would get totally bored of watching me sit at computer and answer emails. My dad would find the manager of our building and lecture him or her exactly why some offices are cold and others are hot until they give him their plan to change it.

  4. Lizabeth*

    Ouch…this is a bad idea. I’ve never been able to explain to my father “what I do for a living” and gave up years ago. He’s old school and worked at one company his entire career (engineer/management). So he not only didn’t “get” the graphic design field but the job jumping that goes with it. Staying at one company wasn’t/isn’t a viable option for me if I want to learn new things and/or make more $$$. Plus all the economic downturns that result in layoffs over the years.

    1. Meg*

      I think that’s a big thing that our parents’ generation doesn’t understand. My dad is a teacher, and has been working at the same school for his entire career. In the present labor market, it’s much more common for people to change jobs and/or companies more often. In fact, it can sometimes be seen as a mark against a job candidate who has been at the same company for 20 years. I remember discussing this with my dad recently, who just didn’t understand why more people don’t try to stay at the same company their whole career.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Yeah, very few people I know have stayed at the same company for 20+ years. Even if they wanted to, it’s just not an option for a lot of people what with the recessions/downsizing of the last few years.

      2. Chinook*

        Add me to those whose father can’t understand why his children keep changing jobs. I think he is slowly understanding that a job for life, never mind a union job, went the way of the typewriter salesman. Atleast he is satisfied with explanation of my job as “paper monkey.”

  5. Grace M.*

    I’m a millennial but my parents raised me to be responsible and take care of my own problems. At 25 I have a graduate degree, a steady job, own property, and am happily married. There is a girl in my office who is a year younger than I am but still lives at home and has had four jobs this year because she “didn’t like any of them.” Her mom has called the office three times to complain about how her daughter is being treated. These millennials give the rest of us a bad name…

    1. Mike C.*

      The worst part is the fact that this employee is being treated as a sample of a much, much larger group. What if instead of her age, people were saying, “oh, typical woman in the workplace”?

      1. KarenT*

        Excellent point. You could insert any group she belongs to in that sentence–race, sexual orientation, economic status….

    2. Adam V*

      I wonder if it’s out of line for her manager to sit her down and tell her “the next time I get a phone call from your mother complaining about your ‘treatment’ here, you’ll be packing up your things. We’re all adults here, and we expect you to act like one – including telling your parents what is and isn’t appropriate. And since you seem to need to be told – parents calling their child’s workplace is totally inappropriate.”

      On the other hand, it almost sounds like she’d just go home and complain to her mom about that, then add your company to the list of jobs she quits.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The fact that the mom has called more than once tells me that the manager didn’t handle it well — if she had refused to discuss an employee with her and hung up the phone (which would have been appropriate), I doubt the mother would have called back a second and third time.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I don’t know about that. I’ve personally encountered a number of people who will call multiple times even after such a refusal. They will call the manager’s manager in some cases to complain about how rude the manager was and so forth. People can be crazy, just saying :)

      2. Tina*

        Alison, I’m curious, how would you phrase that conversation? I can imagine how a manager would be so taken aback (at least the first time), to not know how to respond in the moment.

        This story makes me think of your FB comment a couple weeks ago to the parent who wrote in asking if there was an agency she could complain to about how her child was treated at work…

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’d just say, “I’m sorry, but it’s not appropriate for me to discuss an employee with you.”

          If the person pushed back, I’d say, “It’s inappropriate for you to be calling your daughter’s workplace for anything other than an emergency, and it could reflect poorly on her.” And then I’d quickly end the call.

  6. Eric*

    I’m glad you’re not advocating that parents can’t stop in to see their kids for informal visits. My parents have been here once or twice.

    1. Ruffingit*

      That falls in line with any other office visitor in my view – totally OK for the spouse/parents/best friend to drop by, but it’s kind of weird to make it a formal “see where I work” thing.

    2. Al Lo*

      My co-worker (in his mid-30s) still lives with his mom, and she occasionally drops by, in the same way that other co-workers’ spouses will drop by. I will admit, it’s a little weird, but not because she’s doing anything inappropriate; mostly, it’s just because it seems a bit strange that she fills the role in his household that most of our other co-workers have a spouse or significant other to fill.

      1. Jean*

        I think I get where you’re coming from–since many people eventually meet the unspoken social expectation of living with, or pairing up with a spouse or significant other–but for whatever reason everybody doesn’t march to the same drummer. Some folks stay single by choice or chance. Others live with a parent or other close family. Maybe your coworker is from a culture in which families are not expected to split along generational lines, or he has some sort of low-key challenge that doesn’t stop him from being an effective employee (which is great!) but has managed to somehow divert him from finding a romantic partner.

        At least his mom conducts herself like a typical family member–interested enough to drop by, but not over-invested to the point of being a nuisance or an embarrassment.

        And now I’m going to get judgmental: WHO calls his or her child’s manager to advocate or complain? Yeesh. I’m embarrassed just _hearing_ about this. Even if the grown child is in a job support/job coach situation, surely it’s more appropriate to let the job coach or the case worker interact with other people in the workplace?!

    3. Windchime*

      My parents had both been into my office at OldJob. My Dad, to bring me a shelf that he had built for the top of my desk and my Mom, to get rid of extra tomatoes from her garden. Everyone was always happy to see Mom coming with that sack of tomatoes!

  7. Anonymous*

    Face facts, there is something in the profile of employees with helicopter parents that appeal to employers.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That actually doesn’t seem to be the case in my experience. Employers are more typically fed up when they encounter neediness and parental involvement. The programs I talked about in the article are by far the exception, not the rule.

      I’m curious about why you think there would be an appeal.

      1. The Clerk*

        Well, I wonder what it is in the resume and interview that attracted the employer in the first place. I’m over 30 but only graduated a few years ago because I didn’t have the money at 18-22, so I’m heavier on work experience than 22-year-old graduates. So when all people do is complain about millennials’ attitudes, work ethic, neediness, etc…why do they keep hiring them and expecting things to be different this time? I wonder if the ones who were raised a bit spoiled have more confidence and charisma for it and that’s why they seem more attractive to employers at first?

        1. VintageLydia*

          I also wonder how much is actual normal problems with hiring youth in any generation? We all know training budgets have been slashed, so employers want people to hit the ground running even in entry level jobs. Well, with rare exception, most people straight out of college with maybe an internship or two under their belt won’t be able to do that and as a consequence, need “hand holding.”

        2. The Clerk*

          I probably wasn’t clear–why would they bypass someone with experience for a millennial with none, even with all the “spoiled kids these days” prejudices, and expect things to not go wrong?

          I mean, whatever they’re doing, I want to know what it is so I can do it too. I can’t seem to break out of the receptionist rut and wonder why they can.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Some people like hiring 22-year-olds fresh out of school because they believe they have certain characteristics that they find appealing. They believe that they’re most likely to be: eager to learn, lacking bad habits from other workplaces so they’re moldable/teachable, etc. They’re also following a clear professional path that’s familiar to employers — high school, college, job. Employers feel like they “get” that path.

            That’s not about liking millenials; that’s about liking that particular stage in life.

            1. jesicka309*

              And in some industries, they expect long hours, and the culture operates around ‘drinks after work’ or ‘client parties’.

              By hiring 22 year old graduates, employers can create a culture where those sorts of things are acceptable. If you’re hiring a broader mix of people (20s-40s) you probably won’t get that, because as people move out of their parents (and have to feed themselves), get pets/SOs/children, they can’t really operate that way.

      2. fposte*

        I’m not even sure how that would display itself in an application. Is the cover letter signed “Bob, and Bob’s mom”?

        1. Anonymous*

          You’re being facetious but it’s unlikely that Bob actually wrote a word of that cover letter and resume that landed him that job. And it’s ironic that you chose a male for illustrative purposes because I do believe WSJ deliberately featured a photo of a happy, self-assured white male strolling the halls with his beaming mom. We all know journalists choose pictures even more carefully than they do the words to convey explicit and implicit/subliminal significance. A picture is worth a thousand words after all.

          1. fposte*

            I don’t get how that’s ironic, though–are you meaning coincidental? Additionally, Bob is an established generic name here, and I didn’t read the WSJ article, so I’m pretty sure it didn’t prime my choice.

            But I also have a problem with your underlying claim. You initially seem to be claiming that HMs prefer applicants who are being helicoptered, but now it sounds like you’re stating they’re *all* helicoptered, so it doesn’t make any difference to the application anyway. And if you’re stating that the helicoptered applicants produce better application packages, I can assure you that that’s not true, given that my hires turn out cogent and effective writing all on their own. (And if parents are broadly helicoptering applications, a lot of parents are doing a crappy job of it :-).)

  8. Anonymous*

    My mother is a classic helicopter parent and would absolutely love coming to work with me. This will never happen.

  9. Mena*

    Yes, I saw the WSJ article and oh so hoped that there wouldn’t be anything else of this nature to follow. Sadly, I am wrong. As if this poor group doesn’t have enough bad press already.

  10. Anonymous*

    Your parents being at could they not act like your parents at work? If that makes sense!

    Also, what about those who have lost a parent, such as myself? Seeing those people, relationships etc that they no longer have

  11. ThursdaysGeek*

    As a 50-something, I would totally bring my parents to work, if my work was crazy enough to do something like that and my parents lived locally. They are both in their 80s, and my dad would lecture my co-workers about their nutrition choices and my mum would ask about their families. It would be totally disruptive and no work would get done, so they’d still have no idea what I really do. But, we hire people of all ages, and we are here to work, so my company would never do this. :)

    1. Anonymous*

      Yeah, if my parents were still alive, I would totally bring them in. But they probably wouldn’t have wanted to. My parents never came to a single school event after maybe 6th grade. I was surprised they came to my HS graduation. They skipped the BS but came for the MS to my utter shock. I still think it was the winery visit after the ceremony, but whatever. Big difference between how the WWII parents and my boomer generations raised their kids!

      1. Chriama*

        All those TV shows are highly incestuous. I think of stuff like Numb3rs and Bones and I would cringe to work in such places in real life because I just can’t stay that friendly with people.

        1. Chriama*

          FYI By incestuous I’m talking about the over-mixing of work and personal lives, not that the romantic relationships are also familial.

    2. Cat*

      My 50-something boss did actually bring his 80-something mother around the office one day. It was fine. She enjoyed seeing where he worked; we liked meeting her.

  12. ChristineSW*

    Hmmm…. At first glance, I wasn’t seeing the problem with this. However, in reading the comments and really thinking about it, I’m beginning to see the problems this can create. I’ve read a bit about the whole “helicopter parent” thing and, thinking about my own life, it really can lead to dependency even during adulthood. I let my mom handle all of my affairs while I was in college; as well-meaning as she was, I actually wish she’d pushed me to do everything myself.

    It’s fine if you want to informally invite your parents to see your workplace wherever possible. But creating full programs? That can open a can of worms with today’s millennials.

    1. Mike C.*

      I think an exception can be carved out for specific family events or tours (say if you work somewhere of public significance) in such a way that doesn’t actually involve your specific job. Company picnics or site tours seem fine to me.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Totally agree. And centered on “families,” not specifically parents. A family event (kids, spouse, parents, your favorite aunt, whoever) says “we want you to be able to show people who are a part of your life something you do that you’re proud of.” An event for parents has much more of a “you’re a child and we’re going to cater to that” feel to it.

        1. KL*

          I work at a company with a pretty cool culture and office (they bought an abandoned mall and have slowly converted it into our working space) and family is a big part of the culture. We have held large scale “bring your family to work” type of days where every employee is invited to bring their parents, spouse, children for scheduled tours and family friendly events over the course of a Friday-Saturday … we have our CEO and founders present as well. They are a huge hit – most employees work long hours and it is a great way to show “here is where/what Daddy/Husband/Wife/Mommy/Son/Daughter is and does during their time”. But they are NOT just aimed at parents or a specific generation of employees.

      2. Mints*

        I could see the benefit in encouraging young workers to bring parents to family days. Your “real family” doesn’t need to be spouse and 2.5 kids. I’ve been to company picnics where the single workers didn’t bring anyone, which sucks.
        As a millennial who didn’t have helicopter parents, I could see myself bringing my mom, and she’d be as involved as any other friend.

    2. TL*

      I had a lot of friends in college whose parents handled everything and some of my friends (early-mid 20s) have parents who still handle their taxes (!) and most of their major financial decisions.

      While my parents are happy to pay medical bills (thank god), they’ve always been really hands-off in my life and my monetary decisions. And I thus feel much less beholden to them and also I don’t feel like I’m partly responsible for managing their money, which a lot of my pampered friends seem to feel.

      1. Tax Nerd*

        I judge new hires that still have their parents (or their parents’ accountant) do their tax returns. But then, I’m in the business of preparing taxes, and so are they. If they aren’t confident/interested enough to do their own return, what the hell does that say about them?

        I can certainly understand consulting one’s parents about major financial decisions, to get their longer-term perspective and advice. Things like can/should I negotiate this job offer, and if so, how? Should I buy/lease a car? Is buying a downtown loft a good idea? But the decision, and the action steps should come from the young adult, and not their parents.

        1. TL*

          By handle, I mean make the decisions and the kids sign the dotted line (or don’t. One of my friends’ parents took out and electronically signed student loans in her son’s name.) Or they feel obligated to do what their parents say, even after they’re independent. These kids are certainly the exception – most of my friends do their own thing now – but they are there.

          The thing about taxes is – your first two or three years out of college, they’re not at all complicated for most people. Free Turbo Tax will handle all of your needs and it’s basically idiot-proof. Sigh

          1. Rachel*

            If I can put it out there- 2012 was the first year I held full time work, but my parents’ accountant did my taxes. That’s because I had to deal with a) a part-time job in my college town that I continued working until I found full time work, b) my new full-time job in a different state, and c) a bunch of bonds that I had redeemed. So I had two states to deal with, plus the extra complications of the bonds. This year, I’ll do it myself, because it’ll just be one job in one state, but it would have been super intimidating to do my own taxes that first year out. Lots of new grads are moving all over the place, and the more you move the more your returns get complicated. My roommate had to figure out what percentage of her year she was a resident of each state, for example, and the two states used different formulas for that which didn’t help.

            1. VintageLydia*

              I feel yeah. My mom and grandmother both are CPAs. I didn’t get the accounting gene. So I let one of them do my taxes for a while because I had access to free CPAs. Why wouldn’t I? Then my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time) was a freelancer which was more complicated so they started doing his, too. But that only lasted through the first tax season after our marriage (we married in our early 20’s around the time most of our peers were graduating college.) We do our own, now.

        2. Anonymous*

          My dad’s accountant does my taxes. I didn’t realize that was weird. I don’t work in taxes, though.

          1. Meg*

            I don’t think it’s weird at all, unless you’re an accountant and the family accountant does the work for you.

            I’ve always done my own taxes since I started working – granted, I’ve never *had* a family accountant, or paid for one. I certainly wouldn’t hold it against anyone who uses their family accountant that is probably already paid for, or at least on retainer.

            1. Chinook*

              I have done my taxes since I was 16 when my Mom showed me how (granted, Canadian tax forms sound easier since they are based on where you live on Dec. 31st). I have to admit that I lose respect for those who can’t do their own taxes but totally understand using a CPA if you have access to one, especially if it is paid for by someone else.

          2. fposte*

            As long as you don’t just blindly write the check or accept the refund, but that’s true if you hire an accountant directly, too.

            Random plug here for the delightful Adulting blog, which I wish I’d had in my twenties:


          3. TL*

            It’s weird when a parent walks in to their house, hands them their tax return to sign and then leaves with the paper to file it.

            It’s probably different with a family accountant, but the level of disconnect from the money was so incredibly high. (Basically, it was what fposte said below.)

      2. Kristin*

        My dad does my taxes … but he’s also a professional tax preparer, and I have complicated taxes. Don’t judge me! :)

    3. JCDC*

      (Millennial here too.) Family events make sense to me, but I wonder how a company would even get significant participation in a parents-only event. My parents both still work and they live 8+ hours away from me. And when they travel here, I highly doubt that they want to spend time at my desk. Well-decorated as it might be. So would this event even be realistic/appealing for a majority of parents of 20-somethings?

      1. Elle D*

        I was thinking the same thing! My parents live 3 hours away and work full time. There is no way they would take off work and drive here only to sit with me in my cubicle and watch me design flyers or update the company website.

    4. Stephanie*

      Yes, my parents have been to my workplace. They haven’t been there during working hours, but during events/tours. I work for a non-profit and my parents support the mission of the organization as well as me as their child. I am a Gen-X-er. I socialize with my coworkers as friends outside of work, my parents live 20 miles away, it is a small-town community, my coworkers are community friends with my parents too. I recognize this is different than “Take your parents to work” for 20-somethings. That does seem odd and misguided.

  13. Ali*

    My company thankfully doesn’t do anything like this, but I can definitely attest to the whole helicopter parent thing. When I told my mom I was seriously looking for another job and would leave when I found the right position, she actually screamed at me and told me I was crazy to consider giving up my job. It didn’t matter that I had said I would stay until something else came along (the responsible thing). Even when I was in my earlier 20s, she was telling me how I should dress and do my hair for job interviews and job fairs, like I had no common sense. It was a serious insult. Luckily, she has backed off on that stuff, but I wish she’d be less hysterical about the fact that I want another job in the next 1-3 years. The pay and benefits are good, but I have other career goals that my current company can’t provide, and that’s why I want to work somewhere else.

  14. CupcakeGirl*

    As someone who is right between Generation X and the Millenial generations, there is no way I would bring my parents to work. I have a hard enough time being taken seriously because I’m not “a real adult” (i.e. single, no kids, not a home owner). (Note: I consider myself a real adult, but some others don’t.) Bringing my mommy to work would probably hurt any kind of “street cred” that I have.

    Like another poster said earlier, I like to keep my work life and family/friends life separate.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Tell me about it.

          I own a home, but I’m not married and don’t have any kids (not by choice, dammit). I sometimes feel that my parents treat me like a baby compared to my married sister and married-with-a-family brother. Even though my sister doesn’t have kids, being married makes her more of an adult than me, apparently. :P

          1. TL*

            UG! I have married friends who think that – they’re “more adult” because they went straight from living with parents to living with spouses and somehow that makes them more mature, independent people.

            Nope nope nope nope. Just makes you married.

          2. ExceptionToTheRule*

            My mother had to pay for both of my brother’s divorces. I refuse to recognize him as *more* of an adult than I am.

      1. some1*

        YES! I am in my early 30’s & have FB friends who post those memes that go something like, “Now that I’m a Mom, fun isn’t partying until 4AM; it’s watching a Disney movie and going to bed by 9”

        Really? Every non-parent is out every night partying until 4AM, and *every* parent enjoys watching Disney movie? I’m sure.

        1. Mints*


          It’s so common but so annoying when people (I see it more in women, but not exclusively) conflate being an adult with being a parent.

          1. some1*

            Yes! Almost exclusively women! Just like women will use internet handles like “Aidan’s Mommy” or “USMCWife” but when was the last time you saw “Aidan’s Dad” or ‘USMCHusband”?

              1. fposte*

                But they’re convenient in that the next person to step into the role can keep the same username :-).

        2. Bluefish*

          This is the worst! I’m 30’s, single, no kids, AND I look younger than I am. It doesn’t matter that I’ve had the same job for 8 years… The People here will still act like I’m some kid that just graduated undergrad…

        3. MrsKDD*

          Ugh too true. It makes me want to scream! My personal favourite is “you don’t know love until you’ve had a child” or words to that effect. I’m expecting my first child right now, but I’m pretty sure I love my husband, my sisters, brother, parents, friends, and I’d dare to wager they love me too. The “real adult” standard makes me angry enough to eat nails.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Try this one:

            At one workplace, a gaggle of these mommytwits told me because I had an unofficial stepchild for nearly five years (whom I helped raise during that time), that my worrying about her on her first day of school “didn’t count because she’s not yours.” *slow burn*

            1. Jean*

              It’s hours after you posted but I wanted to give you moral support. I’m sorry that so many self-satisfied parents (“mommytwits” to be precise) have felt free to be utterly rude. I also hope that life gives you either a way to have kids, or another way to connect with kids that makes you happy.

              (Full disclosure: I plead guilty to describing other parents as “Sophie’s mom” (or the mom of whomever) because sometimes it’s the quickest way to refer to someone. It’s not perfect, but it happens, just like sometimes my child’s friends address me as “Sam’s mom” instead of as Jean [my preference, but not that of most other parents] or Mrs. LastName. Sometimes things happen so quickly that we don’t have time to think clearly about whether Sophie’s mom is Mrs. Sophie’sLastName or Ms. HerOwnName.

              1. Colette*

                I don’t see a problem with identifying an adult you know through a child by their relationship with the child. It’s more of a concern when they refer to the self that way – because what happened to the person they are outside of that relationship?

              2. Elizabeth West*

                Aww, thanks. I hope so too; I really want to get married now and have a baby before it’s too late!

                What burned me about the remark was that it discredited not only my feelings, but those of anyone who is raising an adopted child, anyone who is a stepparent, anyone who is the guardian of a child, etc. I literally had to walk away before I smacked one of them. I wish I had said what I just typed, but honestly, I don’t think it would have registered with them.

            2. Another Anon*

              Wow. I don’t have any kids, but I was a kid once. I really value the love and care all the awesome adults in my life showed me. I had some really great babysitters, teachers, family friends, some of my parents’ students even, all in addition to the people who were related to me by blood.

              I’m so sorry that anyone would question your bond with your stepdaughter. That makes me so angry for you.

            3. MrsKDD*

              Late to the party as well. When I read your response, I immediately thought of that scene in “Mean Girls” when Lindsay Lohan leaps over the table shrieking (like animals in the jungle) to attack someone over a comment they made. I can’t believe some of the things people say about parenting and until I got pregnant I thought it was all a myth. Too many times have I found myself either standing with my mouth hanging open over a remark someone made, or politely asking someone to clarify what they meant when I know exactly what they’re saying. Unbelievable.

        4. Mike C.*

          Wait, you aren’t out partying until 4am every night? The only reason I stop at 4 is because work starts at 5:30.

          More seriously, when the heck did fecundity become a moral value?

          1. TL*

            Oh, please. It only takes 15 minutes to throw yourself together. PARTY GOES TILL 5:15!

            But yes, all of that! Children don’t automatically make you a better person!

      2. Colette*

        The “Oh, at least you have no responsibilities” I got when I was laid off drove me nuts. I’m pretty sure my mortgage company, city, and utilities disagreed – and I didn’t have another income coming in.

      3. pghadventurer*

        By some people’s standards, I’ll never be an adult–I can’t legally marry the partner of my choice and don’t plan on having kids.

    1. Pockets*

      Are you me? I’m in the exact same boat! Just because I value my freedom and haven’t met Mr. Right yet, people still think of me as a kid out of college, instead of an early 30s professional. It’s so frustrating!

      I cannot imagine a scenario where bringing mom and dad to the office would improve the perception of my “adultness”. Not that watching me type formulas in Excel would be all that enticing to them anyway….

      1. fposte*

        People post stuff like this and it makes me so glad that I’m in a field where nobody has ever said anything in this inane direction to me.

      2. CupcakeGirl*

        While I hate the others are experiencing what I’m experiencing, it’s nice to know that others feel the same way I do.

        As someone who is debt-free, chosen to wait until marriage to have children, and completely supports myself (no, my mom doesn’t still pay my cell phone bill or car payment), I think I’m doing alright. :)

        I used to be envious of people my age who had these really nice homes…until I found out that their parents/grandparents gave them a huge down payment and if they hadn’t, they would not have been able to purchase the home. I’m happy to continue saving what little money I can and eventually purchase something on my own.

        1. Colette*

          Speaking as someone whose furnace broke yesterday, right before I discovered the back door handle was also broken, there’s no rush – wait until you are really ready to afford both the money and the time/effort.

    2. The Clerk*

      Seconding (or thirding?) the “real adult” thing, particularly because it would mean my cousin (same age), who had a baby at 17, got married at 19, bought a house with a HUUUUUGE mortgage during the housing bubble and only avoided foreclosure because her husband’s parents kept them afloat until they could sell and downsize (after giving them the down payment, no less) has been a “real adult” for over a decade and I’m still not?

      1. some1*

        Don’t get me started. Everyone who asks why I don’t have kids or have them yet is someone who started having kids in their teens or early 20’s, and has struggled with finances and got or still gets tons of assistance from their parents.

        Thanks, getting ready for my Senior Prom was stressful enough without having to find a baby-sitter for my newborn!

        1. Arbynka*

          This probably won’t make you feel much better but I have bee asked before why don’t I want more kids ? Because “if you can feed three, you can always feed one more…” I am not kidding. There once was this lady who asked me in grocery store if I want another one and I said :”Oh, gosh, no” and I laughed. She looked at my kids and said :”Some women shouldn’t be mothers”. I don’t know what drives people to do this. Their own insecurity ?

          1. Arbynka*

            So you see, if you don’t have kids, you should have kids, if you have kids, you don’t have enough of them…. It’s never ending :)

              1. Windchime*

                People are idiots. One of my kids was born with a very obvious (but very fixable) problem with his eyes. Surgery had to wait until he was X months old. One day at the grocery store, a lady looked at him and said (to the baby, but we know she was talking to me), “Your mama needs to take you to the eye doctor to get that fixed.”

                Nothing to do with being an adult; it just ticked me off.

        2. Chinook*

          When I was 29 and single, my grandmother asked if I ever plan on having kids. I pointed out that I lived in a military town and, if she gave me 9 months, I could provide her with a baby. Strangely, the subject never came up again, even after I got married.

    3. Meg*

      Oh, I’m well aware of the “real adult” standard. I was actually having a conversation with my best friend and her mother (who happened to be my homeroom teacher in high school 10 years ago, and was my brother’s spanish teacher) over dinner and drinks the other night. I said something about how I didn’t feel like I fit the mould for the “real adult” because I didn’t own property, wasn’t at my new job for very long, no committed relationship, no kids, had just moved back home temporarily (to help my mother, not for HER help).

      She asked me, “Do you pay your own bills?” Yes.
      “Are your bills in your name?” Yes.
      “Does she remind you to pay your bills on time?” No.
      “Do you do your own chores without having to be told – laundry, cleaning, etc” – Yes.
      “Are you responsible of your own actions? (Don’t ask Mom to do things that you should be able to do on your own)” – Yes

      And she says, “Well, you’re a very responsible and mature young adult, and I would certainly consider you to be a ‘real adult’.” Kinda felt good that someone else acknowledged it. I was born in the later half of the 80s, so I guess I’m a millennial.

  15. TychaBrahe*

    When I was young and living thousands of miles from my family, they did visit my workplace when they came to town. My mother and later my grandfather both got a tour of my workplace and introduced to my coworkers. I don’t see anything wrong with it.

    Last month a friend and I were meeting after work. It was more convenient for her to come to my office and have us travel together in my car. I showed her around a bit. She admired the view from my office and the photos on the wall. Still no problem.

    1. Elle D*

      I’ve done this before too, and don’t find there to be anything wrong with it provided there’s no company policy against non-work-related visitors. That said, something about it feels different than a company sanctioned “bring your parents to work” day.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s exactly what I was talking about in the column when I said that sort of thing is fine. It’s the company sponsored “bring your parents to work” that I think is a problem.

  16. Dani*

    What is wrong with your parents not understanding what you do at work? My parents don’t get my job either but I don’t see that as an issue. It’s my job and as long as I understand it that is all that matters. Their input isn’t necessary.

    1. NeedyMillennial*

      If they don’t understand what I do how can they help me with my homework. How will I succeed if they can’t write my reports for me.

  17. Rose*

    This reminds me of my 5 years of living in India. Kids are coddled there and really are not taught how to survive on their own. My husband used to tell me about his College days, where they closed and locked the gates by 9am, and if he was late, tough tittie, he didn’t get to go to classes that day, and his parents were called to inform them of their child’s tardiness. In College they even had parent/teacher meetings!
    Then I worked for GE in India, and they had a family day every time a new batch was trained, and this happened in every single BPO there. New employees brought their wives, parents and children to this family day. It was really quite fascinating to see this happening before my eyes. Parents called in sick for their 25 year old “kids,” attended interviews with them, etc, etc. I know this is a different country, and a different culture, but it was so interesting to me. And i seriously saw a nation of young people not accountable, with no idea how to survive on the “real world.”
    I have two small children and as much as I want to hold on to them forever, I want them to be prepared for the work world and to have independence. I certainly want to know what they do at their job, but I don’t want to go to their work and meet their bosses. I just think there are some lines parents aren’t meant to cross with their own children who are grown ass adults!

    1. The Clerk*

      I find this surprising since India is often held up to us as an example of how we’re so lacking in engineers and related professionals. Granted, that’s usually a major corporation trying to justify sending jobs overseas, and I’ve read that the “engineers” from there are basically shoved through diploma mills and are barely qualified to do tech support, so maybe this is another piece of the puzzle.

    2. MrsKDD*

      I can absolutely see this. I’ve had several candidates from other countries show up to interviews with their parents in tow and when I go out to greet the candidate, the parent stands up as well and begins walking with us to the boardroom for the interview. The first time I it happened I was so confused I stopped and asked if they needed something. Now I just say something along the lines of, “please make yourself comfortable here in the reception area, we shouldn’t be too long”. Some argue with me, most look surprised and sit back down. I find it interesting too.

  18. LaraW*

    But, who are the ones making these policies/planning these events? Its the helicopter parents! I, luckily, have not dealt with helicopter parents too much in my work and I don’t have helicopter parents myself (though I do have helicopter-ish in-laws) but this is ridiculous. I can’t think of anyone who would want this except for the parents.

  19. Not So NewReader*

    Baby Boomer here… okay Late Boom. My parents were “The Greatest Generation”. (Yes, I was a later in life baby.)
    I cannot see my parents showing up at my work place to learn about it. I can definitely see them laughing at this company program. They would think it was frivolous of the company and a waste of everyone’s time.

    A nod to the poster who mentioned people who have lost their parents. YES! Excellent point. This is a great way for the company to make those folks feel like they stick out like a sore thumb. I lost my mother at 23. (I was lucky some people lose parents at a lot younger age.) Through her illness, I learned that many in my peer group had no basis to relate to my stories and what I was going through. (Not their fault, that’s just the way life is.) When you lose a parent young like that it can be a lonely journey unless your family jumps in. I know if the situation were reversed I would not have had basis to talk to a friend about their parent. It was something that I did not talk about with most people. A program like this would have definitely been stressful for me.

    I hope these companies have programs (or plans) running concurrently for people who are determined to grow themselves on their own. If I were a 20 something now, I would find this one size fits all program rather odd. It should be obvious to TPTB, one size does not fit all.

    1. Elysian*

      I agree about isolating people whose parents don’t come. I spent 4 years of college explaining that “My parents and I don’t really get along” every time Parent’s Weekend rolled around at my University. Do I really need to do that at my job, too? Why would my job care if my parents are involved in my life, or understand what I do? The curse of my generation is that we either are or are assumed to be in this state of extended adolescence. I thought that by the time I hit 30 I would have been able to stop dealing with inquiries about my parents.

      1. TL*

        My parents never came to Parents’ Weekend – I never thought to tell them of it – not for reasons of not getting along, just because it wasn’t important to us.
        I think everyone thought it was sooo sad that my parents didn’t come that they didn’t ask why, but in reality, I just didn’t care that much.

        1. Elysian*

          Maybe my friends were nosier than yours :) But it really got old after awhile, when so many many things as a college-aged adult came with the expectation of parental involvement:
          “So we’ll just send the tuition bill to your parents.”
          “Have your parents submit their tax information to financial aid by X date.”
          “Here’s a special newsletter just for parents! What is their address?”
          “What did your parents say when you told them you wanted to drop this class?”
          Parent’s Weekend was just one in a long line of things that got the response “My parents and I don’t really get along.” I just really don’t need anything at work to be tacked on to that list.

          1. KAS*

            I am a Gen Xer—but I totally get you. Outside of feeding and providing a place to sleep, my parents and I were never close either. It made for some very awkward encounters through college.

          2. TL*

            Oh, egads! My college financial aid office was bad about the parental syndrome when talking to an actual person but for the most part we were expected to communicate with our parents and all the parental options were opt-in – you had to tell your parents and set it up for them.

            So I didn’t. (I’m close to my family but college was my deal to do, not theirs.)

        1. Windchime*

          My kids’ university had Mom’s Weekend and Dad’s Weekend. I got to see an Elton John concert at Mom’s Weekend. Go Cougs!

    2. fposte*

      As somebody who lost a parent young, I’m going to differ on the people who’ve lost their parents thing. Once you’re an adult, having a parent or parents no longer living is part of the human landscape, not a freakish thing, and I think the notion that it would make such a work event a problem comes out of the same kind of overprotectiveness that makes the event so weird in the first place.

      1. Jen in RO*

        I agree. My parents are still with me, but I wouldn’t bat an eye if someone else’s didn’t show up. Hell, my own parents would probably think it’s a stupid idea and go see a movie instead.

  20. Lora*

    Oh good lord. I must be getting old, I would not want my mother to come within shouting distance of any of my bosses. I tell my friends and colleagues who meet her that she is much more senile than she actually is, because the Archie Bunker bigotry that comes out of her mouth is so embarrassing.

    She hasn’t understood anything about my career since I started applying to colleges in the late ’80s. Numerous guidance counselors and advisors have had to intervene to get her to “allow” me to continue attending university in a “men’s field”. The only part she understands is that I make more money than she did at my age.

    On the one occasion that she bumped into one of my colleagues in the parking lot as we were meeting for lunch, she was quite shocked to find out that a man, an actual man with a PhD from a famous university, gray hair and a snooty British accent, thought I was smart and good at my job. How was such a thing possible? He must be being kind…after all, as a woman my job must be all about taking notes and fetching coffee, riiiight?

    The depressing part is, she’s old but not THAT old. Her father, still alive and pushing 100, is actually far more enlightened than her when it comes to bigotry. If we could have Bring Your Grandpa To Work Day, he would be in absolute heaven.

  21. Jules*

    Maybe a one off event in a whole lifetime of working each company. I wouldn’t mind showing my parents where I work and what I do because 1)they know bounderies and will not act out and 2)I am proud of where I am working at and it’s nice for them to see the fruits of their labor. Sure, I worked hard to get where I am but they were behind me the whole time.

    But the whole getting involved in my work life, big no no. Advice, sure, all out doing it for me, no thanks!

  22. HR lady*

    AAM, I totally agree with your article. Thanks for writing it.

    As an HR professional, I will not speak with an employee’s parent about the employee’s working life (salary, discipline, job offers, etc.), except when it makes sense (such as if the employee is incapacitated and the parent is calling to say they’re unable to come to work).

    I am pleased to report that there have been very few parents of employees who ever tried to call me in my 10+ years of experience in HR.

    1. badger_doc*

      It would be interesting to do a follow-up ost of all the HR professionals/managers who have had to deal with calls from parents. What did they say? How did you respond? Then AAM could do a “top 10 most ridiculous phone conversations with parents” article :-)

  23. Anoners*

    Ugh. I do research on HR as my job, and I can’t count the times I see articles like this popping up (or about how awful millennials in the workplace are in general). There are definitely some clueless millennial out there, but there are clueless people from every generation.

    My all time fav. is “millennials bounce from job to job, with no real commitment to stay at one place too long!” Umm… no it’s called only offering them contract/temp positions! Everyone I can possible think of in my age range would love to get a full-time, secure job.

    A side rant, when is “millennials” going to be recognized as a word!? I am not loving the red line that appears every time I type it (or maybe I’m just a spoiled/entitled millennial).

    1. Malissa*

      Job hopping? I thought gen X had that market cornered. I remember the articles that said, “Don’t expect a Gen X’er to stay longer than 2 years.”
      The truth behind that, was/is that gen X is firmly stuck behind the boomers who won’t retire and have been in their jobs for 20 years. So yeah, us X’s had to bounce around to get ahead.
      Much like the Millenials are having the crappiest time finding any long term jobs because there just haven’t been that many in this economy.

    2. MousyNon*

      Yup. So, so tired of all of the ‘millennial’ hand-wringing in the media, honestly. Nothing about millennial behavior is unique to this generation–it’s just young/privileged behavior, which has existed since the dawn of society.

      We delay our careers because tuition costs have SOARED past inflation even as the value of our degree’s have diminished to just about nothing, we live at home and are more financially dependent because our wages have stagnated over the last thirty years even as housing costs have continued to increase, and we bounce from job to job because we’re not making a livable wage, and even IF we’re lucky enough to get annual ‘merit’ raises, they barely if ever keep up with inflation, so the only way to push our salary up is to LEAVE THE DAMN COMPANY.

      I’ve also never understood the assumption that millennials have ‘more parental involvement’ than past generations. Maybe I’m just missing a study that was done on this, but mostly all of the media mentions I’ve seen of this have been conjecture, and it just makes no sense.

      It’s like, even though *statistically* both parents are more likely to work outside of the home and for longer hours (and even though single parenthood and poverty rates are on the rise, making it a double whammy), somehow parents are able to be MORE involved in their kids lives?

      Oooor is it just that wealthier parents have the resources to allocate toward getting their children additional assistance in any number of life areas…just like wealthier parents in the past did (only modern day parents get to share their delightful techniques with the world through twitter and facebook, thus fueling more hand-wringing articles….). There’s also a huge cultural myopia in all of the hand-wringing that few people ever address–implicit is the assumption that the American ‘boot straps!’ mentality is correct and noble, and immigrants with vastly different cultures should assimilate or they’re ‘justifiably’ judged as dependent and/or coddling.

      That said, I do agree with everyone that being perceived as a ‘needy millennial’ is still a problem–regardless of whether the phenomena is real or justified–so I’d never bring my parents to work unless it were a general ‘family’ event.

      (and lol omg yes SO TIRED OF SEEING THOSE SQUIGGLY REDLINES /firstworldproblems)

      1. Colette*

        It’s pretty easy to see examples of parents behaving inappropriately (e.g. complaining to the school when their child gets a mark that’s lower than they believe the child deserves). As more parents work, children end up in before/after school care and thus don’t get sent outside to play with the neighbours; more kids take school buses than walk to school, etc. which makes a child walking 5 blocks on their own out of the norm, and less likely to happen in other circumstances.

        At the same time, the world is getting smaller, so you hear more about abducted children in different locations. 50 years ago, a case of a child disappearing in another state/country might have made the news for a couple of days – now you can hear about it for years. The perceived risk is higher, which makes people less likely to let children do things independently as well, and it even goes one step further to make people complain about other parents who do.

        Does that mean that most parents are helicopter parents? Absolutely not. I’ve done volunteer work with kids for years, and I’ve encountered one parent who fit that bill – but it’s both more common than it used to be and more visible.

        The unfortunate part of this trend is that it’s all about the parent wanting their child to be safe – and the end result is a child who can’t keep themselves safe when they need to, because they’ve never been allowed to take any of the steps that would get them there.

        1. MousyNon*

          But that’s my point–I don’t think it’s more common. More visible, sure, but not more common. I don’t think parents complaining to school about grades is really a good example at how helicoptering parents are more common.

          At least in America, when it comes to complaints by parents about their kids grades, that would appear to be the direct result of a systematic tearing down of the public educational establishment by politicians (on both sides of the isle) and the media. Of course parents are going to assume schools are to blame for their kids not doing well–every election year, “reforming our terrible public schools” becomes a reverberating mantra, and so public schools become the repository for social ills.

          A better example would be–do parents of private school kids complain more than parents of private school kids in the past? I don’t think they do. I think those parents are just as involved as parents of the past, because they’ve got the resources to be involved. They’re just more visible–the internet and social media is a part of why, but another part of why is that the world is getting smaller, like you said. The have’s are more integrated with the have not’s (especially in urban centers, where I feel like millennial hand-wringing seems to cluster), so suddenly the behavior of one group is extrapolated to the whole.

          1. Colette*

            The trend is definitely happening outside the US, but even so, if you’re concerned that your child doesn’t actually know the material, you should be arguing that your child’s grade is too high, not too low.

            I disagree it’s not a bigger problem than it used to be – the new involvement by parents at, for example, the college level is not happening because the colleges want it – it’s happening because it’s supported by parents and students.

            I agree that it’s not the norm, but I still think it’s more the norm than it was 20 or 30 or 40 years ago.

  24. The Other Dawn*

    Why do parents *need* to understand what their kids do at work? I would think it would be enough to know that they’re working and making a living. I don’t understand the whole Bring Your Parents to Work thing. Or even the helicopter parenting thing, for that matter. But I’m not a parent and don’t wish to be.

    1. Colette*

      I think sometimes it can help make the job seem more “real” and not the equivalent of, say, spending the day in your room playing video games.

  25. MaryMary*

    I don’t think Take Your Parents to Work Day is any worse than Take Your Kids to Work Day. That being said, I never really saw the point of Take Your Kids to Work Day. I’m sure it was fun for the kids (and maybe even educational) but it’s disruptive for everyone else. I went to the airport once on Take Your Kids to Work Day, and the agent’s 10 year old checked in my bag. I told the agent if te pilot’s kid was going to fly the plane, I wanted my money back.

    1. Elysian*

      I think Kids to Work Day started as Take your Daughter to Work Day and was envisioned as a way to encourage young women to learn about, and see a future for themselves in, the workforce. Later it expanded into “Kids” instead of “Daughters” because people didn’t like an exclusive program, and now I think its lost a lot of its original meaning.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      I was a tourist in NZ and took a tour boat. The captain appeared to be about 10 years old, and I only saw the adult (father) once or twice in the several hours of the tour. But the kid appeared to know what he was doing.

      Would you be more comfortable if the pilot’s kid had been flying the plane since he was 5 or so? :)

    3. CupcakeGirl*

      Wow…I’m really surprised that they would let the kid check bags! I probably would have had the same reaction you did.

      That being said, I participated in “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” in the early 90s. I visited my mom’s factory and it was a lot of fun. Granted, they didn’t put us “on the line” or anything, but I did get a new perspective of how hard my mom worked (and still works) on a daily basis. Factory work is tough stuff.

    4. Malissa*

      Oh it’s a good idea in theory. but it really should be limited to kids who can understand a filing system. Any younger than that and they aren’t going to have a clue as to what is going on.
      Oh and having goodie bags and pizza parties on that day is stupid. It makes it seem like work is all fun and games. –Maybe too many Millenials have experienced this and are meeting up with the disappointing reality of work is? Maybe this is why they want to bring their parents to work, after all they are just returning the experience.

  26. Jax*

    I’m picturing this like Grandparents Day at school. They sit next to me while I make a special craft, and then we all go to the cafeteria for Hot Turkey Dinner and 1/2 pints of chocolate milk.

    Are my parents supposed to take a day off from their OWN jobs to do this? Because in this day and age, the boomers who had us have to put off retirement and continue to work.

    I think I’m a millennial…I’m 33. Maybe I’m a Gen Y. I get confused on these things…

  27. Jubilance*

    Sadly I think my mom was the type of parent this event was designed for. Every time I start a new job, one of her first questions is “can I come see your office?” *sigh* I think part of this comes from the fact that for most of my career I’ve worked in “cool” laboratory environments & people always want to see them for some reason. I also think she’s just a naturally curious person. Luckily I’ve been able to use the “security doesn’t allow visitors unless it’s for a business meeting” excuse to keep her from trying to take a tour of my office.

    This has not stopped her from visiting my brother in his classroom while he’s teaching tho. :-(

      1. Jubilance*

        Yup! And that lesson turned into an Q&A session with my mom, my brother and the kids (my brother teaches 4th grade). Apparently the kids loved hearing about how their teacher behaved when he was a child…but I still cringed when my mom said she visited my brother’s classroom, and did it unannounced!

    1. Mike C.*

      Labs are pretty awesome places to visit and work in though. Where else can you easily get LN on tap? :D

    2. Jax*

      My aunt and uncle surprised their son at his college while he was teaching. They peeked their heads in and marveled that he was up there, lecturing “just like a professor!!!”

      Minds blown.

      Maybe as parents, you always picture your kids as little, bumbling teenagers? Their son had a PhD and was 30+ years old…

  28. Lils*

    A lot of people are asking why this type of treatment continues after college and grad school. I’m asking why it continues after age 16 or so. Obviously, the parents of minors can and should be involved in their work and school lives to ensure their safety, coach on appropriate behavior, etc. But the workplace and school should treat the teen/young adult as the responsible party. Employers and schools who do this are undermining and disempowering their students and employees. I’m Gen X and close with my parents, but this is ridiculous.

    1. Malissa*

      I do wonder. I went to school with a kid who’s mother followed him around with a camera on the first day of school every year. Even his senior year. I often wonder if his mother did this at college and at the first day of every job he’s had.

  29. Diet Coke Addict*

    I’ve been to my dad’s work for tangential reasons–to meet him for lunch, to drop off a parcel that was mistakenly delivered to the house–when I was living with my parents. And my mom and I went to visit him when his company built new offices, to see the new office and furniture and all that.

    I’d have my husband or parents come to my work because we have lots of neat things around–3D printers and scanners, great big routers, etc.

    But not in any circumstances would I participate in a “Take your Parent to Work Day.” It’s not the actual having the person there to visit or whatever–I don’t think it’s that uncommon. It’s the dedicated pandering to parents who are Too Involved and kids who are Too Dependent.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s not the actual having the person there to visit or whatever–I don’t think it’s that uncommon. It’s the dedicated pandering to parents who are Too Involved and kids who are Too Dependent.

      YES. This is exactly it. Thanks for saying it so well.

  30. llamathatducks*

    I wonder if the point of this sort of program is so that the parents DON’T come the rest of the time. I could definitely imagine a situation in which parents want to visit at totally inopportune times, and either the kids can’t find a time for them to visit that is convenient or the company gets fed up with having one or two parents being on the premises very often. Then they might institute a designated Bring Your Parents day so that all the parents get to visit and be satisfied – and everyone gets to work without parents interrupting the rest of the time.

  31. Del*

    It’s interesting to me that the stated focus of the whole thing, which it sounds like AAM is quoting from LinkedIn (I can’t read the original at work, our filters are crazy), states that it’s for the benefit of the parents, not of the employees — and yet here we all are, debating the millenials’ side of this.

    For my part, as a millenial, I find it pretty appalling both on the grounds of “please treat us 20-somethings and young 30-somethings as adults!” and equally on the grounds of “please don’t be this condescending to our parents!” It makes it sound like our Boomer parents are already hopelessly behind the times — which they are most certainly not! I’m an adult competent to explain my job, and my parents are adults competent to understand my explanation. No Show & Tell required.

  32. Elizabeth West*

    My parents have visited me separately at work (Exjob) a few times when passing through town, but they’re not that interested in my actual jobs. There, it was easy because I sat at the front desk and they could just come in and say hi, leave a box of cookies (thanks, Mom!), and then leave. If they came to see me now, they’d have to be signed in and badged. Although I wouldn’t mind showing off my nerded-out cubicle, I wouldn’t expect them to hang around all day.

  33. Cruella Da Boss*

    Don’t get me started about “parental involvement” in the work place.

    Oh, the stories I could tell.

      1. Cruella Da Boss*

        Okay, but just one.

        I had two job candidates interview for one position I had in my department. Unbeknowst to me, these candidates were actually friends. I chose the more qualified candidate. A few weeks later, I was blindsided by a call from the other candidates mother, demanding to know why I had hired the friend instead of her child.

  34. LisaD*

    LinkedIn is in Silicon Valley and hires a LOT of Indian, Chinese, and other South Asian/Asian engineers. They often come from cultures where lifelong parental involvement and even living with your parents after marriage is normal. An Indian friend of mine who is very wealthy had his parents build a new level onto their house for him and his bride when he married.

    I don’t think this sort of thing is a good idea and I hope it doesn’t catch on, but LinkedIn may feel it’s right for them specifically because it helps to attract people who are culturally prone to have a different type of long-term bonds with their parents than most Americans. I hesitate to assume that this policy is designed to please the American millennial and their helicopter parent. (I’ve visited the Sunnyvale LinkedIn campus and I have several former coworkers now working there, so I’m speaking based on knowledge of their desire to compete with Google, Yahoo, Facebook, et. al for South Asian and Asian talent.)

  35. Jake*

    I’ve brought my parents to my work. I work on a large construction project with a dedicated visitor’s outlook. I brought them there, explained the big picture, then went into some minor details about my particular work. My mother requested to see my office. I had to firmly say no.

    It is cool to show your family what you do for a living, especially if it is innovative. It is not cool (or professional) to have a day dedicated to your parents hanging out at the office.

  36. Manda*

    According to the event’s official website, LinkedIn created the event because too many parents don’t understand what their kid does at work and wish they could learn more.

    I hope to one day have a job that my parents wouldn’t understand if I tried to explain it to them.

  37. L*

    Seriously. I’m a millennial and I can’t imagine doing this. Same with “bring your child to work” days…and don’t get me started on people who want to bring their *pets* into the office!! Work is about work, people. I’m here to get my job done, not to socialize.

  38. Maura*

    Thanks for this. As a college instructor, I’ve dealt with a fair share of unnecessary phone calls and emails from helicopter parents. I always wondered when it would end (thinking that going away to college should have been that time).

  39. Karen E. Lund*

    As a late Boomer, I’m surprised by the animosity here. C’mon, kids, didn’t you raise your parents better than this?

    I am the 50-something mentioned in the US News article and, yes, I have brought both my parents to my work at one time or another. It turned out well, perhaps because my parents recognized that I was the “grown-up” here, the one who knew what I was doing, and they were in the role of onlookers.

    Many years ago I worked at a large museum and occasionally got tickets for Mom to accompany me to programs. It was fun and after business hours, so we got dinner in the museum’s cafeteria then attended the program and I navigated the halls.

    Cut to a couple of years ago (Mom had passed on by then) when Dad spent some time with me on my volunteer job. We were both under mandatory evacuation orders during hurricane Irene and I’m an American Red Cross volunteer. We stayed overnight in the shelter where I was volunteering. As Dad had recently recovered from major surgery it was comforting to have him around (did I just admit to being a helicopter daughter?) and I was able to go about my work calmly, just checking in with Dad occasionally to see how he was doing. I look like a younger, female version of Dad and we became the talk of the shelter (an evacuation shelter is pretty boring and people are eager for something other than the imminent emergency to talk about), daughter and father evacuated together.

    I would love to bring Dad to my current workplace. He’s over 80 and left the workforce before computers popped up on every desk. He’d probably be amused (and a bit puzzled) to watch me spend my day using spreadsheets, e-mail and web apps.

    I will offer one cautionary tale. I overheard a woman on my commuter bus tell a friend that she’d called her 20-something son at work and got his voice mail. Not knowing why he wasn’t at his desk and answering the phone, she high-tailed it to his office to ask the (no doubt baffled) receptionist what was wrong.

    Turns out he was in a meeting.

    If that sounds like your mother (or father), RUN! Move across the country, don’t tell your parents where you work, and never ever give them your work phone number!

    But I’d really like to believe that parents of adult offspring can behave themselves better in public. Nobody (parent, child, friend, or long-lost cousin) should be showing up at your workplace uninvited or unannounced. You are, of course, there to WORK. But I think it’s cool to set aside a little time for employees to invite family to learn more about what they do and how they do it.

  40. Jasmine*

    My father recently went all of 24 hours without receiving a text from me. His response was to call and email my workplace, asking that someone tell him where “Jazzy” was. Needless to say, I’m the one who looks bad. It’s hard enough getting out from under the Millenial Stereotype, without controlling parents acting up and proving it right.

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