Posts from 2017-11
“For Hell’s sake, grow some balls and go after what you want!” So telling my daughter to grow balls may not be my best mom moment, and I really wish my rant wasn’t so Freudian, but I stand by the sentiment. Jumping out of an airplane takes little courage compared to the courage required to pursue happiness.
Misery is easy, drama is easy, remaining static is easy, being a pleaser is easy, letting things happen is easy. Easy does not equate to happiness. No matter how many times you use a smiley face emoji or post to social media and tell your friends how joyful you are, it just won’t happen until you have the courage to put in the work to obtain it.
So back to my kid. The thing they don’t tell you when you have a baby is that you can’t make them do anything, much less be happy. You can model the tools and gently, or sometimes not so gently, guide them, but in the end they have to choose to have the courage to work for their own happiness. As a parent, I really hope my kids grow those metaphorical cojones and get the job done because I love them. And honestly, I really don’t want them living with me forever.
If your teen is perfectly capable, and you would like them or need them to find employment, but they are uninterested, there are some effective options besides demonstrating your frustration and anger.
- Stop paying for their stuff. Teens love their cell phones, computers, video games, driving the car, and looking cool. These things may be called essentials by your teen, but in reality, they are not. If your teen refuses to look for a job, stop paying for their stuff. It's amazing how motivating taking away their luxuries can be.
- Make their life at home more work. If your teen refuses to help you out financially, then perhaps they could help you out manually. Give them some added chores. Perhaps if they clean out the garage they can take the car Saturday night, or being in charge of garbage and recycling may earn them a month's worth of texting privileges. Allowing your teen to do nothing is not only unfair to you and your family, it is unhealthy for them. How can a teen learn to be a contributor to society when they haven't learned how to pull their weight within their own family?
- Show them the harsh realities. Talk to your teen about the realities of having no money. Share your paycheck, bills and your budget with them. Find the costs of attending college at their dream school. Volunteer as a family at a homeless shelter or food bank. In other words, it's time to let them in on what all adults know, money is important and it takes hard work to get it, and even harder work to keep it.
- Find out if they're lazy or scared. Teens love to play it tough and act as though they're rebelling when in reality they may be apprehensive. Finding a job for some teens is a scary thing because they realize they have to grow up, talk to adults, take responsibility for themselves, and generally leave their comfort zones. I had really great students in my classes who completely shut down when the topic of jobs comes up. Discuss with your teen why they don't want a job. Let them know you are there to offer suggestions, find resources, research possibilities, and help them through the process of getting a grown up job.
Most teens I've taught can't wait until they're old enough to get a job. But for those few who seem uninterested despite the pushing and prodding from their parents, there is hope. Parents can't make their teens get a job, but they can employ strategies to motivate employment aspirations.
During the process of researching and teaching teens about how to get and keep a job, I learned three things which drove me to write Hey, Get a Job!
- There are not many resources out there for teens seeking their first work experience. You can find tons of stuff on employment for college graduates, adults seeking career changes, and even senior citizens wishing to return to the workforce. But teens? Not so much.
- Kids like to say they know everything about getting and keeping a job, but in actuality, they don’t know anything. The first time I assigned students to fill out a job application I received grumbles and those often-heard words, “This is stupid, I already know how to do this.” I did not teach the application, I didn’t even provide tips, hints, or don’ts. What I got was a mass of applications that were unacceptable. Teens didn’t know how to properly write their address, education history became yes or no questions (YES, I want to attend college), strengths and skills prodded lists of things like the amount of weight one could bench press or the grade on an exam, and my personal favorite, the references they listed were their best friends. Do teens know how to get and keep a job like they say they do? Nope.
- Adults often mistake a teen’s reluctance to get a job as laziness when it is actually that they are scared. All kids like money, and believe it or not, the vast majority of my students wanted to earn their own money. The problem for many of them, however, was that they were intimidated by the adult world of work. We treat them like kids, we feed them, clothe them, make them do a few chores around the house, and then it seems to them that one day we say, “It’s time to grow up, find a job opening, apply, interview, act mature enough not to get fired, and manage the money you make.” It’s a change that many teens don’t believe they’re ready for and therefore resist.
My hope with Hey, Get a Job! is that it gives kids the comprehensive information they need to have the confidence to make a smooth transition from kids to young adults. In our society, one of the most important rites of passage from child to adult is the first job. How can we expect teens to successfully navigate growing up if we don’t provide the necessary tools? Hey, Get a Job! is, in my biased opinion, a great tool for teens and their parents.