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Monday, June 26, 2017

Land that Helicopter

LaVar Ball should be a very happy man. Last Thursday evening his gifted athlete son, Lonzo Ball, was selected as the second pick in the 2017 NBA draft. The 6-6 point guard averaged 14.6 points per game and 7.6 assists. I’m not sure how that point six stuff works, but that’s today’s math. Anyway, he’s good.

True to his dad’s prediction, Lonzo will now be playing for the L.A. Lakers. LaVar Ball is an aggressive helicopter parent who has stepped on many toes. Supposedly, he compared his son’s basketball skills to Michael Jordan and judged Lonzo as superior. Well, isn’t that special!?

I confess I didn’t know about this draft phenom until I read a New York Times story, “When Helicopter Parents Hover Even at Work.” The Ball family had a limited focus, but a significant one. LaVar appears to have gone over the top. He’s tried putting together a billion dollar marketing and endorsement package for his three sons—all very talented—but apparently no takers as of yet.

The larger point is that many millennial parents are getting into this game. Not basketball, but what some might consider workplace interference. These hovering parents want a return on their college “investments.”

Some of this helicopter activity I found hard to believe. Brandi Britton, a recruiter with the firm OfficeTeam, recalled a father who called her hoping to get his son an accounting job. “The father sent in his son’s résumé, scheduled the interview and, to her surprise, turned up with him in person. ‘He was shepherding that thing,’ she said.”

Office Team decided to survey other employers on this. One shared about a job candidate who had his mother join the interview via Skype. Another mom asked to fill in to interview for her son because of a scheduling conflict. And it doesn’t stop there.

The organization Teach for America claims to be “mystified” by the number of intervening parents. One of their administrators shared about complaints they received from parents regarding their children. Over what? One parent didn’t appreciate their child’s being disciplined by a principal. Mind you, this "child" is not a student, but a teacher! Another called to complain about their adult child having a conflict with a coworker.

This helicopter effect seemed to take hold in the last 15-20 years as millennials started seeking jobs. One survey reported that nearly one fourth of the employers they surveyed noted “parental involvement in the hiring process and the early stages of workers’ careers.”

And from that group, almost a third reported parents having submitted a résumé for their children. Other employers told of getting complaints from parents when the child wasn’t hired. Thirdly, “nearly 10 percent said parents had insinuated themselves into salary and benefit negotiations.”

As the Times reported, several companies have decided to become proactive and accept more parental involvement. LinkedIn will host its fifth annual Bring in Your Parents Day in November. Other groups are trying to be creative on this as well.

The Bible has many verses dealing with parenting. None about helicopter parenting. However, the Bible does address giving godly wisdom and warning of the dangerous problem of pride, where we push the greatness of ourselves and our children. As the Proverbs teach, “Pride leads only to shame; it is wise to be humble.” (Proverbs 11:2, NCV)

As for our new NBA player, the ball is now in Lonzo’s court. It’s up to him to prove he’s worth it. And Daddy hopes he won’t have to pick himself up off the floor.

A crushed ego can bruise the soul in many ways.

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Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

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