By: Revanche

It’s rarely Take Your Parents to Work Day

August 26, 2011

Early career talk: Don't bring your parents to work. Read on to see what I mean.Let’s talk careers for a minute. My experience with this has been specific to the younger crowd in their 20s and 30s, but I don’t know if it applies across the board with other personalities as well.

I’m declaring a moratorium on bringing your parents to work.  

In person, I have no problem with parents in the workplace. And I’m not talking about as employees, employees who are parents are a-ok with me. I mean parents of employees. In fact, it’s kind of fun when parents want to do the Open House sort of thing and show up to see where their kids work for a short visit and say hello and that sort of thing. It’s not only fun, it’s cute. It shows they care. Take an interest. You know.

The once in a while, planned, or drop in for a quick hello and appropriate to the occasion, visit is not the topic of today’s conversation.

What I’m talking about are today’s employees who bring their parents with them mentally as backup into professional conversations, not just casual conversations.

I’m finding that more and more employees quite naturally make requests for special accommodations, raises or promotions or are engaged in some kind of career decision-making, for some reason, think they should cite their parents in the doing.

“My parents think it’s a good idea.”
“My parents think I’m really good at this.”
“My parents want [me to do] this.”
“I need to discuss this with my parents and get back to you.”


Why would you do that?  Why would you say that?  I’m not quite sure if the manager is meant to attribute more weight to the request because your parents thought it was a good idea but I can tell you that it doesn’t entirely paint you in the light that you might intend.  What it does do is that it makes it very hard for someone new in their career to be taken entirely seriously.  It makes it difficult for an adult to be taken seriously as an adult who can think for him or herself.

In all honesty, I’m sure that most who have a good relationship with their parents quite possibly use them as a sounding board.  And there is absolutely no shame in that – it’s the smart thing to do if your parents are sensible, in touch with the professional world or give good advice or love you or whatever the rationale may be.  Heck, even if they give bad advice and you just don’t want to hurt their feelings!

But that is a very personal relationship: they are your parents, and if you are using them as your primary justification for your request or suggest that the rationale came from them, it will give the impression that your professional decisions are driven in large or equal part by your parents.  How firmly that impression sticks depends on how much you belabor the point.


It’s much like referencing your friends in your decision-making.  It’s far too casual, it’s irrelevant, and it’s diminishing your judgment capabilities. Would you really want that?

It’s also somewhat akin to using your parents as a reference.  I really doubt that any hiring manager worth his or her salt would accept that because of the clear conflict of interest in that – once again – this is a parent we’re talking about.  Go on, Ask A Manager.

But in the meantime, please, please don’t bring your parents to work, and don’t let your friends do it either.  It’s not good for anyone.

14 Responses to “It’s rarely Take Your Parents to Work Day”

  1. That is just crazy! I didn’t even think about talking about “my parents say/want/whatever” when I was interviewing for a job when I was 16, let alone as an actual adult.

    Interestingly, I did get asked about my family when I was interviewing for grad school. Not in an intrusive way, but in a “you’ve always lived close to home, how will you feel about being half a country away from them?” kind of way. Which seems silly, a little bit, but I suppose for international students, it probably makes more sense, and maybe out of habit a few of my interviewers asked me too. But I most certainly did not say anything like “my parents want me to do this”!

  2. jhspoljunkie says:

    I have a friend whose husband is a school principal. One teacher, whose work was sub standard, actually had her mother go talk to the principal. The point of the visit was to, hopefully, intimidate the principal into not discipling the teacher. The teacher was in her mid 30’s at yne time. Very weird situation.

  3. mOOm says:

    I’ve never even heard students say that (I’m a professor).

  4. Ugh. Tell me about it. Our *graduate students* sometimes have helicopter parents. Seriously? How old does a person have to be before (s)he acts like a grownup?

  5. MoneyMaus says:


    I’m baffled. My parents are definitely my sounding board (they were the ones who encouraged me to look for other jobs which is what got me to NYC!) and it would be cute to bring them into work, though not very exciting – and I’ve never done that.

    But once you’re in a full-time, post-high-school-or-college job, TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. Sheesh. 🙁

  6. Ofreakin’MG! Really? Or, to paraphrase Jon Stewart, REALLY?????

    When I read your first couple of paragraphs, I started to laugh, and then I realized you’re serious and my jaw dropped.

    My son tries to pretend he’s not related to me even when we’re together in, say, a restaurant. If he’s forced to admit he knows me in some capacity other than “distant,” he pretends I’m senile and he’s there to keep me from hurting myself.

    It’s like he’s embarrassed that he even has parents. (He expected to spring full-fledged from the head of Zeus?)

    I can’t even imagine this. If they were my coworkers or, worse, my flunkies, I would go right over and kick them on the ankle. Good and hard.

    Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. I hope none of your readers are guilty of this. But if they are, I hope a) they won’t admit it, and b) they’ll quit it right away!

  7. Jessica says:

    mOOm, you’re lucky. My husband is a professor, and he has heard quite regularly, “But my mom read that paper and said it was perfect!” or “But I practiced in front of my mother, and she said it was the best she’d ever seen.”

  8. Attribute it to the Milennia Generation. These are any kinds born aroud the 2000s. Apparently, they need their Mom to call work when they are sick! Yes, it’s true. Apparently, the new generation need their parents on a professional level too. O_O;;

  9. Anonymous says:

    WOW. I am so glad I am a member of Gen X. 🙂 My mom gives amazing advice and is a trusted confidante, but the thought of actually bringing her opinions of me up in a business conversation is just…I’m at a loss for words. 🙂 People need to move out at 18 like I did and get a taste of the real world. These kids are soft. –Bonnie

  10. These people are the result of a generation of parents who refuse to let their children fail at ANYTHING. This mindset necessitates much interference, advocating, hand-holding, and back-patting. As an old parent of young adopted children, I see this attitude in my parental peers, most of whom could be MY children, all the time. One of my friends is dragging her son through college when it’s clear he is not willing, interested, or able to do the work. He should be allowed to fail and go on to something he can do, in my opinion. But no, this mother insists on calling profs for favors, etc. Crazy!

  11. I so often mark your posts as “keep unread” & come back to comment, even though a bit late.

    this is CRAZY and would drive me nuts.

    Honestly, my parents aren’t even much value as a sounding board for professional type stuff (maybe for kids when they come), so I can not relate at all. And I haven’t really heard that either, but I’m not so surprised. Wow.

    (Admittedly, I would (did?) let my parents go to bat for me at school probably up through about high school, and they helped a bit with college admissions. Beyond that, it never even occurred to me to involve them!)

  12. Ugh, I just find this whole thing totally bizarre. Parents should stay out of things once their kids turns 18.

  13. Wow, this is SOOOO 21st century coddling. I would be mortified if my parents were involved in any way with my employment, but these days, I hear of this all the time. The parents mean well, but the kids have to be more self-sufficient.

  14. Revanche says:

    @Insomniac Lab Rat: I’ve actually had parents sit at the office through interviews as well. A bit too much.

    @jhspoljunkie: That has got to be the end-all. Really??

    @mOOm: You are a lucky lucky soul.

    @nicoleandmaggie: I have to bite my lip sometimes. Discreetly. But hard.

    @MoneyMaus: Honestly.

    @FaM: HAH. Now your son is OLD SCHOOL. Heheh. Pretending not to know you indeed.

    @Jessica: Oh heavens to Betsy.

    @AP: Totally unacceptable. I would make them hang up and have their kid call.

    @Bonnie: To be fair, I think these kids are actually considered part of MY generation! That is really confusing. They’re NOT much younger than me.

    @Sewing Librarian: What has to be going through the kid’s mind, as well? How can this be healthy?

    @stackingpennies: I still blink when I hear it.

    @paranoidasteroid: Or teach their kids how to stand on their own two feet. I know people who do raise their kids to be smart and articulate and make decisions at very young ages. They’ll be fine by the time they’re out in the workforce.

    @Darwin’s Money: I understand parental concern, just not the shortsightedness. My question is always: but what then? Or what next? What about next year? And five years from now? What about the next step? And if it involves you doing it for them or doing the same thing repeatedly, I don’t think you’re doing it right because kids should be growing up to learn how to do it themselves.

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