On the third round of interviews for my current job, my interviewer was a Boomer whose opinion as the head of a similar and larger organization was valuable to my future Board.
After talking about Gen Y leadership, in which I blatantly quoted my blog to close the deal, she asked me what I would do if I witnessed unethical behavior.
“I would investigate to see if it was really unethical behavior,” I said, “or if I was misunderstanding the situation.”
It was the perfect answer for a business that loves gossip, but doesn’t like to make waves.
Then out of nowhere I felt compelled to add, “And I would probably call my mom and ask her advice.”
My interviewer smiled. Turned out my answer was right on all counts.
We ended up spending a large part of the remaining time talking about her relationship with her mom. She described how her mother had come to interviews with her, and how she continued to count on her mom in her high-profile position.
Gen Y isn’t the only one counting on parents for advice. This is behavior magnified and built upon from previous generations.
I call my mom all the time. Not as much as she’d like me to – a constant source of debate – but I value her thoughts and respect her advice more than anyone else.
She’s usually right too. Men, career, friends, she just knows. Everything. Annoying, that.
“Most Gen Y’s have strong, positive relationships with their Boomer parents,” Tammy Erickson argues at the Harvard Business Review. “They speak with Mom or Dad when they have a problem, and most feel that their parents understand them.”
I’m not saying that you should always listen to your parents, or that they’re always right. My own mother, who I referenced in my interview to get the job, and who praised me for my smart answers, was hesitant that I should even take it.
She didn’t really understand what I would be doing. I still don’t think she fully understands. But I took the job anyway.
I also listened to my mother at the same time.
Listening to my mom is recognition that I am becoming an adult. See, asking for help is one of the most adult things you can do.
There’s no one better to ask for help than your parents, because despite the fact that sometimes they might annoy or guilt-trip you, they really, in their heart of hearts, want the best for you. And they’re always proud of you. They always love you. That’s what parents do. And they know you better than anyone else.
I find it funny to read that some experts believe that Gen Y “may well shatter,” as the result of intense Boomer parental involvement. Do you know what I do when life isn’t going my way? I call my mom. And do you know what she tells me? “This is your life,” she says. “Stop crying and deal with it.”
Okay, it may not be those exact words, but today’s parents are not ignorant. They know that despite their coddling, Gen Y will need to become independent in order for us to succeed.
So we might as well stop getting up in arms that parents are helping their children. Because in the game called life, we really need as much as help as we can get.
“Use your parents’ insight to gain experience when you have none,” Rosie Reilman argues. “But don’t let them live your lives for you. This is your life. Take ownership of it.”
I agree. I’m not saying don’t grow up. We should grow up and take responsibility. I don’t believe, for instance, that you should move back home after college. Because of how I was raised, I think that’s irresponsible.
But I think we all feel, especially in our twenties – and maybe it never ends – that we’re doing a good job of just acting like adults. And maybe if we’re good enough actors, we’ll actually become adults someday. With the help of our parents, of course.
But I believe we want to enable a workforce that asks for help, that respects their parents, and who aren’t afraid to admit that we don’t have all the answers. Certainly, there are instances when it can go overboard, but why must we continually let a few bad apples set the tone?
We shouldn’t sensationalize what is generally a good trend.