When We Rescue Our Kids, Are We Preventing Their Success?


I’ve been spending quite a bit of time reporting about the lives of millennials: their spending habits, their future careers and passions. In the course of researching a piece I’m now writing for The Fiscal Times, my sources have raised the issue of how boomer parents are afraid to see their children fail, and they routinely swoop in to rescue them. My recent conversations with life coaches are particularly illuminating. They say that parents are footing the bill for sessions with coaches to give them a leg up in the marketplace. But they don’t stop there. Marketing professionals tell me they know of instances where parents actually attend job interviews with their children. I presumed this would be a deal breaker for the young adult, but I was astounded to learn that this doesn’t cause employers to wince. They know they need to respond to the needs of this age group, which soon will make up the majority of the work force as boomers begin to retire. Boomers often felt detached from their own parents, rebelling against their way of life. And they’re committed to sparing their child from any undue hardship. Only a minority of parents I know insist that their teenage and college-aged children get a summer job to earn their own money.  I, too, find myself guilty of swooping in, occasionally intervening with teachers to explain why my child turned in an assignment late (even though there was no valid excuse), or making calls on their behalf to potential summer job employers. (I at least insist that they work). But the experts I’ve spoken with say that young people learn from failure — and struggle. That often gives them the resources they’ll need to stand out in the competitive job market. It has led me to wonder whether we boomer parents — myself included — should rethink the way we approach our children. Ultimately, in trying to save our children from failure, we could be making it harder for them to succeed.