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Helicopter parenting

(96 Posts)
Sago Thu 02-Dec-21 09:52:43

I am not a fan of Facebook but look at our local community page occasionally.
Today there is a mother asking for a work experience placement for her daughter for next April.

When our 3 had to do their work experience they made a list of appropriate companies and emailed them.

We would have under no circumstances put out a plea or asked friends who had businesses, it was entirely up to our children to find their own.

I fear we are not preparing the next generation to be independent.

25Avalon Thu 02-Dec-21 10:02:14

Not quite true in our experience. Businesses were asked by school to offer work experience which the school then allocated out as appropriate to career plans etc. If you were a parent with a business you were not allowed to give work experience to your own child. DD’s work experience fell through and all the others were taken so dh trawled his contacts to find a suitable business to take her on which the school agreed.

Calistemon Thu 02-Dec-21 10:06:32

I agree, the work experiences are (or were) organised by schools; as these pupils are usually only in Y10? (could be Y9) they do have to be careful.

DD's work experience was in another school! (a primary school).

Redhead56 Thu 02-Dec-21 10:21:19

My dh was not allowed to work for his father when learning the family business. He worked for other people in the same business who his father knew and trusted. Our son worked for a business next to us for work experience and stayed there until his apprenticeship in a different trade.

Our daughter worked opposite us in another business for work experience until she started university. It taught them both well they have always been independent and worked hard. I think it also taught them that in business word of mouth is a good recommendation for success when job hunting.

BigBertha1 Thu 02-Dec-21 10:23:01

Well I get told off if I use the HP phrase by my daughter who reminded me when I said it that things are tough and young people need all the help they can get in the job market.

Septimia Thu 02-Dec-21 10:27:54

Well, there's helping and there's doing it for them.....

Kalu Thu 02-Dec-21 10:29:47

Both DDs had similar experiences at school to that of yours 25Avalon. Although there was no guarantee of employment, I thought it was good experience for them. Both DDs found themselves Saturday jobs and eventually jobs in the field of their choice.

GD2, (16) arrived home a few weeks ago to tell DD1 she had been for an interview for a Saturday job. She got it without telling any of us she was even thinking along those lines.

Lucca Thu 02-Dec-21 10:32:00

Well I guess I must be an HP then. I can’t stop myself wanting to help my AC

Lucca Thu 02-Dec-21 10:41:34

But then I’m a bit like that with friends too, always want to come up with solutions for them…

Calistemon Thu 02-Dec-21 10:48:10


Well I guess I must be an HP then. I can’t stop myself wanting to help my AC

I think that's a bit different, though.
From what you post, your style of helicopter parenting hasn't resulted in a child who has no independence, can't make a decision for themselves.

It's one thing worrying about them (so we ever stop doing that?) and wanting to help, it's quite another wanting to micromanage every aspect of their lives.
I know parents like that, and I don't think it did the children any favours.

Mine gained more experience from the jobs they found for themselves when they were at school and college - and found out what they didn't want to do at the same time!

Calistemon Thu 02-Dec-21 10:49:03

I've learnt not to say "Wouldn't it be a good idea to ....."

Or mostly 😁

25Avalon Thu 02-Dec-21 10:50:39

Eldest dd did work experience at the pet section of the local garden centre. She told us she could have a free rabbit. After much pleading we gave in and agreed. What we hadn’t reckoned on was buying the hutch, run etc so not exactly [email protected]!

jaylucy Thu 02-Dec-21 11:08:58

There was one parent on our local board asking the same thing - from her comments, she was all but going to take the interview for their child - "where do I take the CV? What do I put on it, as he is only 16?" even "what would I need to wear?)!!!
Where I used to work, we had an open evening as we were looking for more staff - one young lady was accompanied by her mother - when the manager went to take the girl for an on the spot interview, the mother expected to sit in on it and when told that she couldn't, spent the whole time standing outside the office, peering in the window and at the end, dashed in and started spouting things that she obviously thought would encourage the manager to employ her daughter! I got the enviable job , as the manager was off sick, of writing and informing the girl she hadn't got a place and the mother then called back to say that she couldn't understand why her daughter hadn't been accepted as THEY had been to several interviews and she hadn't got any of the jobs !
Not sure if that is helicopter parenting or just that the mother has a problem !

Galaxy Thu 02-Dec-21 11:17:24

School arranged all work experience when I was that age, I certainly had no part in it other than turning up.

Doodledog Thu 02-Dec-21 11:28:57

If I were the head of a secondary school I would not allow children (or their parents) to sort out their own placements. School placements are only for a week, and IMO should be a learning experience that introduces them to a world outside of their usual one. Working for their dad's mate is not going to do that, whether the mate is a merchant banker or a market trader. Those contacts will still be there when they start work, but the chance to broaden their horizons is only likely to shrink as time goes by.

I've seen helicopter parenting at first hand (working in a university), and IMO it is more about what's best for the parents than for the students. Parents who struggle to cope with the idea of their children not doing things the way they (the parents) think best are not doing them any favours. Letting them do things that are a bit out of their comfort zone at a young age gives them the independence they need as adults, even though it may be difficult to let go and see them grow up.

25Avalon Thu 02-Dec-21 12:08:35

Doodledog sometimes intervention can be called for. Eldest dd was doing her computer masters at uni when she fell ill with tonsillitis and had nearly 3 weeks off. The professor told her she was unlikely to catch up. Dd then wants to give up. So I took it in my hands to interfere and speak to professor and explain if dd thinks something is impossible she won’t try to prove you wrong but just give up. Whereas if she’s told she can do it provided she works her cotton socks off then she will work her cotton socks off. This she did and got her masters.

Was I so wrong to talk to her professor in these circumstances? I don’t think so. Professor was understandably reluctant to speak to me initially but realised it was how dd needed to be motivated.

Doodledog Thu 02-Dec-21 12:28:56

I can't comment on particular circumstances, so please don't take this the wrong way, but on the whole, whereas staff do care about students we can't get involved in conversations with parents (it is against data protection regulations) and after a year or two's experience we realise that we are only ever hearing one side of a story anyway.

Acting on a conversation with a parent can backfire, and is very likely to alienate a young adult who wants to represent themselves in their own way, not be represented by a parent, however well-meaning, who infantilises them by talking to staff behind their back.

sodapop Thu 02-Dec-21 13:02:25

Never been a helicopter parent. One of my daughters once commented, "when we go on a coach trip with school all the other parents wave until the bus is out of sight, but you and Dad are in the car and driving off " smile

Smileless2012 Thu 02-Dec-21 13:18:23

Our boys school operated the same way as your DD's Avalon.

You say in your OP Sago that this mother has "asked for a work experience placement for her D". What's wrong with that? Not what I would consider a plea, merely a request.

Chardy Thu 02-Dec-21 13:25:51

I went out and visited Y10 or 11 pupils on Work Experience from late 70s to about 2010 wherever I was teaching. In most areas the school was issued with a big book by local authority, each pupil was allowed to take it home for the evening. It contained the names, addresses and a brief bio of what the job entailed. Some were great, some were awful (a well-known menswear shop allowed the lad to fold clothes for 2 weeks!). The placements had all been checked, and a member of staff was designated - I think they'd been on a course for a day. Pupils were all visited by school staff.
If a pupil wanted to work with a company not in the book, they had to be interviewed and visited. I visited one lad who worked for 2 weeks with his kitchen fitter dad, he'd do an apprenticeship when he left school, and eventually take over the business
Then it stopped - too expensive, maybe it was because I was working in an academy at that time? It was a brilliant system, and helped pupils of all abilities think about their future.

M0nica Thu 02-Dec-21 13:50:52

When DS did his work experience back in the late 1980s, work experience opportunities came from a variety of sources, depending on the career the child concerned was interested in.

In some cases it was local companies, sometimes, particularly where pupils wanted to go into the professions parents might have solicitors, or vets, or painters & decorators or plumbers among their family and friends and they would provide the child with work experience..

DS wanted to be an archaeologist. He developed his interest very young and had drawn me into archaeology as an interest and I asked around among the professional archaeologists I knew and one of them was able to provide a weeks work experience.

As far as I know work experience has always come from a range of sources, direct contact, networking and formal invitations from company to school.

Simply helping a child get work experience is unlikely to undermine a child's independence or self-reliance. I think people can get too worked up over trivial help that most parents offer as they can. My 'fixing' his work experience didn't stop him organising his own Gap Year employment a year later, nor making his way in a very oversubscibed profession once he graduated.

M0nica Thu 02-Dec-21 14:05:54

Just read you post Doodledog, I really do not agree. DS had had extensive careers advice at school and taken every opportunity to follow his passion through his teenage years.

Getting work experience in the career he was determined to follow despite knowing it was oversubscribed and poorly paid was a chance to see what working in the profession was really like. I doubt if the school would have known where to go to find a suitable placement.

He lived away from home that week and the organisation he was working for gave him really good experience of the profession, long days, in all weathers and in remote areas which meant long hikeshauling all your equipment. There is a lot more to archaeology than digging holes and doing geophys.

If a child has a vocation for a particular profession, it is foolish to not let him do his work experience in that profession. DS did plenty of other jobs as a student to widen his experience but that work experience week is an opportunity for someone who knows what they want to do in life to have achance to see what it is really like and reassess if necessary.

DD's was arranged by her college, she was doing Theatre Studies A level and she was found a place with a local rural theatre. She lived at home, worked unsocial hours and was entirely dependent on us taking her to and from work as the theatre was 3 miles from the local town and there was no public transport.

Which of the two of them had their horizons most widened by their experience?

Calistemon Thu 02-Dec-21 14:55:10


Eldest dd did work experience at the pet section of the local garden centre. She told us she could have a free rabbit. After much pleading we gave in and agreed. What we hadn’t reckoned on was buying the hutch, run etc so not exactly [email protected]!

Oh, that did make me laugh 25Avalon
A "friend" once gave my DC a guinea pig but failed to mention that it was one she didn't want because it was a vicious little thing and bit her other animals and my children!

Calistemon Thu 02-Dec-21 14:58:41

I do remember when one of my DC did work experience, they were rather indignant because some of their friends got paid for their two weeks' work placement but he or she didn't!

lovebeigecardigans1955 Thu 02-Dec-21 15:04:00

I've a lovely friend who could be described as a helicopter parent. She's an energetic, whirling dervish who can't sit still, but her heart's in the right place and her children were lovely too. When helping with homework they sat there with pen poised expecting to be 'fed' information. A gentle nudge to feel free to come up with their own ideas wouldn't have come amiss. Perhaps she overdid it a bit at times but eventually they left home and have become independent.