Employers are receiving calls from parents of new hire young adults demanding their offspring receive special rewards for showing up for work on time.
No way! That was my initial reaction. However, it’s very much a case of yes way.
It was an international HR specialist on air recently who delivered this news. News immediately supported by Catherine Swift, chair of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business who has encountered this phenomenon at the CFIB. A radio program director friend shared that the mother of a recently employed studio operator made a series of insistent calls demanding her son not be required to work off-hour shifts any longer. A long time small business owner from the Milton area made her very first call to talk radio to speak to her frustration at having to deal not with a job applicant, but the applicant’s parent, usually the mother of the young would-be employee. Mom demands information on pay, working conditions, hours on the job, etc. Mom would also almost invariably react negatively when informed she should step aside and allow her son or daughter to speak for him or herself. That the employer would explain “I need to know if the person I may hire has communication skills, is motivated to approach a client, offer assistance and make a sale and wants the job” merely served to confuse the hovering parent.
Do these young adults speak up for themselves? Are they horrified at the prospect of Mom riding shotgun on a job interview? Do they make every attempt to nudge aside any parental inclination to contact an employer with a demand for better working conditions and increased remuneration for junior? They do not.
They are the result of a recent philosophy of over-parenting and reduced expectation. These young adults are the product of an education system which rewards academic failure with promotion and instils a sense of entitlement without accomplishment as a requirement.
A university history professor relates he receives 3am phone calls from students unhappy over a low grade for a partially completed assignment. Their logic? “I showed up for most of the classes. I deserve at least a B.” A college instructor insists that at the post secondary level she encounters functionally illiterate high school graduates with an inflated sense of their own importance.
Perhaps we might ask how it is a functionally illiterate teen is provided a high school graduation certificate at all. I know employers who have called into my show to inform of paying for remedial reading and writing courses for such graduates would appreciate an explanation.
When does this mad exercise begin? We’re all aware of youth sports leagues where scores aren’t recorded and team standings aren’t kept in Ontario. No child must come into contact with the concept of losing, after all. I spoke recently with a mother whose young children are members of a local swim club. Each day at 2pm a swim test is held. Kids who pass are issued a wrist band which qualifies them to swim in the deep end of the pool. This Mom’s children wear the wrist-band. She found herself challenged by mothers of older children. “Keep your kids in the shallow end for the sake of my child’s self-esteem”. Her question was obvious. Why don’t your children take the test? “If my child fails, his or her confidence will be seriously damaged” was the rationale.
Clearly not each young person welcomes parents running interference, or dumb-down educational policy. When Edmonton high school teacher Lynden Dorval was suspended for refusing to adhere to his school’s “no zeros for work not handed in” rule, students at the school initiated a petition drive criticizing the directive and supporting Mr. Dorval (whose job status at this time remains unclear). The student responsible for the petition assured that many, perhaps most of his peers recognize the ‘no zeros’ policy to be counter-productive, but at the same time will gladly take advantage of the situation.
Are young people living with an unrealistic sense of entitlement? Quebec university students marched in mass protest over an annual tuition increase of $265.00. The fact taxpayers underwrite 83% of post secondary education cost was lost in the nightly shouting and pot banging which disturbed the evenings of many of the very people who fund that 83%.
I’ll end this column with five words my father would direct my way on occasion. “It’s time to grow up.” Except I was five, not twenty-five at the time.
By Roy Green