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Are Helicopter Parents to Blame for Youth Unemployment?

U.S. unemployment is bad in general -- youth unemployment is far worse. But why? Everyone can agree on the sobering reality of the problem, but causes are hotly contested.

Young people themselves certainly come in for blame. On blog CAREERREALISM, for instance, John Heckers, president of executive coaching firm Heckers Development Group, listed eight reasons for the terrible employment outlook for youth and included several causes that are entirely within the control of young people themselves:

Unrealistic salary expectations. Many who are graduating college believe they should be paid $50K or higher to start--with no or little experience. This is just not realistic.

Over-scheduling. We would love to hire someone to be trained as a career coach. However, we are finding that many of the younger people we've interviewed have such packed lives that they don't have time... One person was more interested in her yoga and pole-dancing classes than in being trained for an exciting (and potentially lucrative) career.

But others note that behind every kind of kid is a certain style of parent. As youth researcher Richard Settersten said in an interview with this blog, "new kinds of kids are produced by new kinds of parents." Using this logic, blaming parents is also popular. In her blog following her family's ups and downs, 20-something Gai Shan took a moment recently to ponder the origins of her sibling's irresponsibility. The culprit, according to her, is her parents' indulgence of her brother well in to adulthood:
Giving him a helping hand is not helping him. It's just enabling now.... In the entire time that my idiot sibling has lived under our roof -- he has never been required to ante up for his fair share of rent, utilities, or any living expenses, he has never been told to move out and be an independent adult.... Basically, he has never been told he needed to grow the eff up.
Heckers agrees as well, admonishing parents to toughen up:
Parents -- your kids are never going to stand on their own two feet if you keep carrying them around. Insist your kids work, even if you have to help them for a while. Tell them to put up with the everyday give and take of a work environment, including long hours, office politics, and jerk bosses, rather than telling them that they're too good to have to experience this, even though you do every day. Make them pay a bit of rent if they're living at home.... I hear too many kids (and I'm even talking "kids" up to their 30s) who say they don't really have to work because their parents will either pay for them to live, or that they can live at home. This is really, truly dysfunctional!
But not everyone is hopping on the bandwagon and pointing the finger at dysfunctional parent-child relationships. Settersten, for one, emphasizes the current gloomy economy. He believes parents should understand that launching a career and an adult life takes far longer than it once did and that it is wise, not weak, to support their children for the entire length of this extended on-ramp:
Living at home can be a really smart decision in today's economy. If it allows young people to be in school when they otherwise would not be able to afford to be, or be engaged in internships or apprenticeships that will lead to success later on, that's a good thing. We should be more worried about people who go too fast... The kids who leave home too quickly are exactly the kids who spiral downward into debt and poverty.
In essence, while Heckers feels indulgent parents produce demanding, difficult to employ kids, Settersten concludes the opposite -- financially supportive parents enable their kids to study and intern long enough to be appealing to employers.

What do you think, in this precarious economy, is it more dangerous to shove your kid out of the nest or allow them to grow comfortable inside it? Or does it entirely depend on whether your kid is a striver or a slacker by nature?

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(Image courtesy of Flickr user novemberwolf, CC 2.0)