View from the helicopter

Susan Loffredo began counseling NU students well before the iPhone was invented and owns socks that are older than the class of 2013.

Loffredo, Susan photo

Susan’s incredibly well-cared for family

Are you a helicopter parent?  Or does one of your parents fit the description? Well, I myself have been known to hover, and so I understand how tempting it can be for parents to swoop in to fix things and how easy it can be for students who have a combination guardian angel/personal assistant standing by. That kind of TLC even sounds tempting to me, but then again, I already know how to do everything for myself.

And there’s the problem.  I have two daughters:  a new college freshman and a young professional who lives in another city.  If anyone said that I was not, shall we say, involved in their lives, my husband and the girls would be rolling on the floor laughing.  But I have come to appreciate when to hold ‘em and when to leave it to the professionals.

Image from cdn.theatlanticwire.com

As a career counselor, I have helped hundreds of young students make and carry out their decisions about majors, careers and jobs.  Often, students who are having trouble choosing a major tell me their parents have no suggestions, other than to do what makes them happy, and while they appreciate the support, they would have liked some advice. Other times, parents offer advice that is out of date or ill advised.  For example, one student’s parent suggested using a fictional job offer for leverage in a salary negotiation.  The takeaway?  Parents know what their children are good at and where they might excel; sharing that can be helpful.  Advising on matters that are not their expertise, not so much.

As a career expert, I was not concerned when my older daughter entered college thinking she would be pre-med, shifted to PR and finally decided on law. My only coaching was to encourage her to work with her career advisor on finding internships to help her decide.  Likewise, I refrained from counseling my younger daughter into a choice of major, except to tell her what I think she’s good at before she met with her academic advisor.

We career, co-op, and academic advisors want to see our students succeed and we know how to help them.  Parents who encourage their children to take full advantage of these professionals and then get out of the way are doing the best they can for their child.  It’s not easy, but if I can do it, just about anyone can.