Adult children: Should parents help with their career?


In the history of the human race, elders advised their children on farming, craftsmanship, and business until they no longer could do so. That some parents have chosen to abdicate that role for fear of interfering is evidence of a pendulum swing too far from what I call the Dead Poet’s Society dad effect.

My generation – 50 and over – was profoundly affected by scores of movies, TV shows, and general media warnings against the domineering parent.  Spoiler alert if you haven’t watched Dead Poet’s Society.  One of the most memorable overbearing parents was the father who prohibited his son from pursuing acting.  This led to disastrous results.

Sure, there were and are overbearing parents who try to force their artistic children to become accountants but in the years of running Career Counseling Connecticut I have observed far more of the following:

“It is his (or her) life. I don’t want to interfere.  It will cause a strain in our relationship.”

Some areas of life – marriage/parenthood, health, and career –  are so significant to overall life happiness that unless you think your parental duties end when your children leave the house you should help if possible.

The how you can/should help is a much bigger, more nuanced topic. I’ve started writing a new book on college to career transition based on several hundred case studies from Career Counseling Connecticut.  A full chapter will be required on the delicate balance needed to gently, provide suggestions to your child in a way that serves him/her and does not create conflict.

The why you should help can be partially explained in broad strokes.

  1. Self-esteem is highly connected to career.  Twentysomethings who have floundering careers start to feel bad about themselves.
  2. Lack of career path has become the dominant reason why young adults do not start families.  This is still a gender tilted issue but, suffice to say, men push off marriage – and fatherhood – until they feel settled into a career.
  3. The work world is dramatically different than back in our day.  “He’ll figure it out” used to be translated into “someone will hire him.”.  That’s not the case anymore.
  4. It gets harder as time passes.  Too many twentysomethings started post college unemployment with the thought that they’ll get a job after the summer.  The summer then becomes a year.  After a year or two, a whole host of factors start making it more difficult to gain career traction.  If they have a job but know it is not a long term fit, then they need to move on sooner than later.  Otherwise, they will be branding themselves in a career that doesn’t suit them.
  5. Assuming you can figure out the how – the default being sending them to us – you will build your relationship in a healthy way – the wise mentor.

Of course, the easiest way to help without causing conflict is to get an expert to help your child.

Contact us.  860 510-0410 or e-mail.