helicopter parent


Even though I’m in a “corporate” role now and am no longer directly involved in the nuts and bolts of staffing, since my office is located just across the building from my former Branch Manager office I often get to hear my replacement tell me the same sort of delightful staffing stories that I experienced in her role. Yeah, sometimes it’s as if I had never left. The good thing is, like the grandparents who get to spoil the bratty grandkids and send them packing with their parents at the end of the day, I get to laugh and tell her how thankful I am that SHE got to deal with that particular situation and not me. As Jerry Seinfeld used to say, “Good luck with ALL that!”

That was especially true of a story she told me the other day. They had put an individual to work who had since been fired for insubordination. Yes, that’s insubordination, or the absolute refusal to obey a legitimate work request. Call me old-fashioned, but if someone is paying you to do a particular thing and you refuse to do it, most reasonable people would consider that a terminable offense, right? Well, that’s what we thought and that’s what the client thought too when they instructed us to fire him.

It all went as smoothly as can be expected and we didn’t hear from him for several weeks, that is until another client called and requested this particular employee to work at their facility. Apparently a friend of his works at that client and had turned his name in as a prospect. Now we’ll often give people more than one shot as long as the original malfeasance isn’t too bad and we think they’ve learned a lesson and are truly going to change, but we draw the line when it comes to certain things, like fighting on the job, coming to work drunk or on drugs, and refusing to at least try to do what your boss has instructed. Needless to say, our office wasn’t about to put this individual to work at ANY of our clients, requested or not.

When we told the client our reasoning, they agreed and were actually thankful for the information and the very real fact that we were looking out for them. It was an altogether different matter, however, when the news reached our former employee and … his dad.

So, our Branch Manager gets a buzz from our receptionist that John (we’ll call him John) and his father are waiting in the lobby to speak with her. Except when the conversation started it wasn’t actually John who did ANY of the talking. Instead, (I’m told) John just sat there with a blank, dazed, very confused demeanor while his elderly father (John is close to 40 himself) did the talking for him. It was truly an embarrassing spectacle, both for John and for his father. According to Pops, John was a good boy. John works hard. John has child support to pay (go figure). John needs a job and we were apparently unlawfully denying this to him. I mean, who knew Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 actually prohibits employers from, gasp, telling employees what to do! All this while John sat and stared straight ahead with his mouth half open looking about as clueless as one of the Darling boys from the Andy Griffith Show (except I’m sure he wasn’t half as good with a banjo).

Our girl sent them both packing, of course, with the not-so-subtle message that, besides the fact that he needn’t bother trying to contact us for work ever again, would-be employees should really be speaking for themselves and not having their parents speak for them.

Amen sister!

Odd as it is, we’re actually used to this sort of thing. The phenomenon of helicopter parenting apparently doesn’t just belong to high-achiever types who want to make sure their little Precious gets into Stanford. Its all over the place. We’ve had parents help their grown children fill out job applications, sit in on interviews, and even call in for Freddie when he’s not feeling so well and can’t get out of bed!

Growing up is hard to do. It’s scary to stand on your own two feet, knowing you could slip at any time. Instead of getting their children ready to actually leave the birdhouse and fly, today’s parents accede to their child’s every petulant demand lest their Dumplings experience the discomfort of having to hurl themselves to the ground in the middle of Walmart in a toy-demanding temper tantrum. Kids are rarely disciplined and never, God-forbid, spanked. And when it comes to preparing for adulthood, don’t worry, because Mommy will be there every … freaking … step … of … the … way.

To which I say, “Good luck with ALL that!”


This post originally appeared on Staffing Talk.

Written by Scott Morefield

Scott started with AtWork as a Staffing Manager in 1999, eventually taking over the Bristol, TN office as Branch Manager in 2005. After a two year stint as both Branch Manager and social media manager, he assumed the role of Director of Marketing in October of 2014. By night, Scott is a news and opinion columnist for BizPac Review. His work has also been featured on the Drudge Report, Fox Nation, Breitbart, TheBlaze, WND, Staffing Talk, among others. Scott holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources and an MBA from East Tennessee State University. He and his wife, Kim, live in Bristol, Tennessee with their four children.

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