According to the Wall Street Journal, it’s becoming increasingly common for businesses to host “Bring Your Parents to Work” days. The Society for Human Resource Management estimates that around 1 percent of American employers host such an event, with advertising and tech companies like LinkedIn leading the way.
Companies see such events as appealing to young employees who are close to their parents. (Or, stated alternatively, some companies may realize that they’re hiring Gen X/Y/Zers who have helicopter parents who have always been deeply involved in every facet of their children’s lives and expect that to continue into core adulthood activities like working at a job.)
The article reports that the parents who attend these days wander around the office, wearing matching “Josh’s Mom” and “Josh’s Dad” t-shirts and snapping pictures of their kids at work and posting them on Facebook. And, parents being parents, it’s not unusual for them to corner executives and pepper them with questions about how the company is doing — and, presumably, why their gifted kid isn’t moving faster up the corporate ladder. For that reason, some of the children admit that having Ma and Pa at the office can be an anxiety-inducing experience. Others, though, think that visits from their folks will help their parents understand what they do and where they spend a lot of their time.
It’s another example of how family dynamics have changed over the years. My parents were interested in making sure that I got a job, kept a job, and became self-supporting, because that was part of the road to responsible adulthood, but they sure didn’t express any desire to experience the workplace with me for a day — and I really wouldn’t have wanted them to do so, anyway.
Some people obviously see the notion of “Bring Your Parents to Work” days as a way for parents who are close to their kids to further cement that bond. I see the workspace, in contrast, as off-limits territory, where people should be making it on their own, without oversight from Mom and Dad. I think it’s part of the boundary drawing that has to occur as children grow up and make it on their own. Apparently, not everybody wants to draw those boundaries these days.