How are you doing mom? Well I hope. So you’d like to see your son or daughter get a job and as a result feel better about themselves. The worry and concern you have for their well-being must be hard at times I imagine. You know you’d feel so much better and be so proud of them if they could just catch a break and be hired.
Well what is the current situation? Let’s look at a few – just between you and me. We’ll start with young teens looking for their first job, move to adult children in your home without work, then look at adult children living outside your home. 3 situations all with their unique challenges.
So to your teenager. Presumably they are in school so the first thing you and I know is that finishing school and graduating is the most important thing they can do right now in order to help them get a decent job in the future. So can they actually handle both school and a part-time job? If their organized, can prioritize their work, plan ahead and their getting good marks and have the time to work, then work is a good idea. On the other hand, if they are struggling as it is, have to study a lot just to pass and can’t do more than one thing at a time, maybe a job isn’t a good idea and you should turn down the pressure to get a job right now.
Either way, start giving your son or daughter genuine but positive support. When they do something good, name the skill. If they put away their clean clothes they are tidy, if they plan their homework around favourite t.v. shows, they are good at time management, planning and organization. If they are always home at curfew, they are respectful, responsible and dependable. You see mom, naming the skills for them helps them when they look for jobs and read what employers want in the job ads. When they get to the interview and the interviewer asks them to name their strengths and give examples, they’ll be better prepared to answer the questions in part because of you!
Okay so let’s look at that adult child of yours living in the basement. Now mom, ask yourself if maybe you haven’t unintentionally made it too comfortable. Why would they move out if you’re doing the laundry, buying the groceries, doing the cooking and…oh no….you’re not still making their bed I hope? This is called enabling. You’re encouraging the very behaviour you don’t want by continuing to do it. Give them a deadline to start paying rent, insist they make their own bed, do their own laundry and contribute to the groceries. Get them out shoveling snow, cutting the grass, dusting the furniture. You’ve started late but you’ve got to get them doing things on their own now so they can do things when living on their own.
Now that son or daughter is going to need a resume and be shown how to really job search. They also need to see the financial benefits of work, its value and depending on how long they’ve been getting a free ride in the basement, they may need to unlearn some poor habits. Sleeping in until 11:00 a.m. and partying 4 nights a week isn’t on in the real world. Don’t make the mistake of doing things for them and perhaps given them bad advice. Get them down to a job assistance agency and insist they sign up. Be encouraging but be firm. You’ve done your part.
As for the adult children who are without work but living outside your home on their own, well you can help them too. When you are talking to them on the phone, try not to let your words and the tone of your voice sound overly dramatic. “Oh dear! How EVER are you surviving? Oh, you poor thing! I just feel so bad for you.” Yes, no more of that. All you’re doing is reinforcing their growing belief that they are really in a bad way. If they are wanting to please you mom and care about your opinion of them, you’re just adding to their stress. So ask every now and then but sound positive. “How’s it going? You’ll find work I’m sure that will a good fit. Someone is going to be lucky to hire you.”
Mom we all have skills and strengths, and you’ve certainly got your share. We all have limitations too. You may be well-meaning, but sometimes you’re out of your league in the advice or suggestions you give. You can help best by getting these kids of yours in front of other people; people who make their living helping the unemployed find jobs.
Find your local employment office and get the contact information. Be subtle but share it with them. Give them the chance to act on that information on their own. If they do, great – relax. If they don’t, don’t be surprised. You’ll have to raise the stakes a little.
Remember mom, if you’re cooking their favourite meals and spoiling them, they may see you as not only mom, but cook, cleaner, maid and chauffeur. If you want them to get working, be a landlord first and foremost. Life outside the home has to start looking more attractive than life in it.