It’s not easy being the parent of an adolescent under any circumstances. Parents want to protect and care for their children. Youth want to experience life, to become young adults.
If you find the transition to adulthood easy, your family is the lucky exception. In the next few posts, I’ll offer some advice based on my experience as a middle school teacher, educational game developer, coach and mother who survived three teenagers at once.
Get a job, kid!
It’s that old vicious circle. People don’t want to hire youth with no experience but how do you get experience if no one will hire you? Here is where I see “failure to launch” , adolescents stuck at home because they can’t get a job. It really can turn ugly. Parents have visions of themselves supporting a 40-year-old man or woman sitting in their living room eating pizza all day and posting on Snapchat how much their parents suck. Their legally adult son or daughter resents anyone questioning when they come and go or what they do with their time.
Part of becoming an adult is being able to support yourself. Adolescents often have an attitude and act as if they know everything. Adolescence is also a time when people are feeling very insecure. They are making a lot of decisions for the very first time and are afraid of failure.
Let’s face it, finding a job sucks. You have to fill out paperwork, which no one I have ever met in my life enjoys, meet a lot of strangers and open yourself up to a lot of rejection. After five or ten tries, it’s no surprise if a young person gives up and says,
I can’t help it, nobody wants to hire me.
Well, you know I’m not just going to tell you how bad things are without giving some suggestions for success.
- Provide concrete advice. Far more helpful than, “Get a job” is texting a link to a website like Craigslist
- Provide a deadline. All of my children knew that they were going to have to get a job upon college graduation or immediately when they stopped attending school.
- Just like sex, you shouldn’t wait until it’s too late to discuss getting a job. Your child should be looking into getting work experience in high school andDEFINITELY by college.
- Getting internships or volunteer experience is a good answer to the no-job-without-experience catch. At 7 Generation Games, we almost always have a couple of paid interns working for us. Check the twitter, Facebook and blogs of organizations that interest your child.
- Understand that everyone is different. Some of my children were very motivated to have their own money and started working at 15. Others, not so much.
- Realize that if you make it too easy for your child by providing a car, free rent, money for clothes and entertainment, the incentive to get a job may be a lot less. The desire for independence is not enough of a motivating factor for everyone.
- If your child has a disability, whether physical, mental or emotional that interferes with getting a job, realize there are a lot of resources to help. (More about that in a later post.)