Articles for Parents

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    Preparing Your Child for the Real World

    Many college graduates will soon be joining the workforce, some for the first time. The transition can be a real shocker as they face their new reality of 8-hour days, specific start times, no more spring breaks and a limited amount of time for lunch. Plus, some workplaces expect employees to work at a rigorous pace that is foreign to many college students.

    In the adjustment phase, young adults may complain to their parents about workplace practices, demanding bosses, irritating co-workers and deadlines, just to name a few issues. This is nothing new for sure. 

    Anybody who has held a job can probably relate, but here’s where things get interesting. In an effort to be helpful, many parents jump right in to deal with the issue at hand. In fact, you might be surprised at just how many parents are quick to take the reins and deal with the issue themselves.

    In a recent survey of parents of children ages 18-28 conducted by Morning Consult, 11 percent of the parents surveyed said they would contact an employer if their child was having issues at work. Of the parents surveyed:

    • 76% reminded their adult children of deadlines they need to meet, including for schoolwork. 
    • 74% made appointments for them, including doctor’s appointments. 
    • 42% offered them advice on relationships and romantic life. 
    • 16% helped write all or part of a job or internship application. 
    • 15% told them which career to pursue.
    • 14% helped them get jobs or internships through professional network.
    • 14% gave more than $500 per month for rent or daily expenses.

    With the possible exception of giving romantic advice, none of these behaviors on the part of the parent are helpful in preparing a young adult for the real world.

    Instead of jumping in to rescue them, it would be helpful to assist them in being prepared to deal with real-life work situations. Here's how you can start:

    • When they encounter a difficult professor, process with them potential ways to approach the professor and have a conversation. 
    • Teach them how to make their own doctor’s appointments. 
    • If they have internship possibilities, rehearse with them how to make the initial phone call or introduction and talk with them about potential interview questions. 

    If they believe they are being treated unfairly or inappropriately at work, get a good understanding of what is happening. Then:

    • Attempt to walk through the situation with them, but realize the situation is not yours to handle. 
    • Ask them what they think they need to do besides quit, which sometimes ends up being an option if nothing else works, and then help them figure out an action plan they can execute by discussing the pros and cons of all viable options. 
    • If you don’t think you have the knowledge or skill set required to help them decide how to move forward, connect them with someone you believe has the knowledge to do so. Avoid the temptation to make the call yourself. 

    It can be painful to watch your young adult deal with difficult and sometimes very complicated circumstances, especially if they are a hard worker and what they are walking through seems unjust. However, it is not healthy or helpful to jump into circumstances they need to learn how to handle themselves. Life is for sure not fair, and this will likely not be the last time they have to navigate dealing with a difficult situation. 

    Whether your adult child is still in college or in the workforce, writing papers for them, calling them to make sure they are awake, reminding them of deadlines or interfering at work does not prepare your child for the reality of living an independent, productive life. Doing these things will make them more dependent on you and less prepared for dealing with what life hands them on their own.

    This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on March 31, 2019.

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    7 Benefits of a Summer Job

    If you're a parent, you're probably bracing yourself for the summer with your teen. There are so many things to consider: everything from what time your teenager needs to be out of the bed in the morning, how much time they should spend gaming, expectations around the house and curfew, just to name a few. And typically, the teen’s perspective is vastly different from your point of view.

    Obviously, the school year can be very taxing and it’s nice to have less stress during the summer. But experts encourage you to avoid throwing structure out the window as your kids rest up for the next school year.

    One way to keep your teen constructively involved is to strongly encourage them to find a summer job. While 13 or 14 may be too young for employment, they do have other options. It isn’t too young to do yard work, babysit, clean houses, or some other type of work.

    Teens can learn so much from a job experience. In fact, it can help prepare them for life. Actually going through the interview process is a serious accomplishment, as many young people struggle with conversations that don’t involve texting. Learning how to look someone in the eyes and answer questions about yourself is huge.

    Once they have secured a job, they typically have the chance to learn a few things, like how to:

    • Get along with a diverse team of people,

    • Manage their time,

    • Deal with authority figures other than their parents,

    • Engage with people who are rude and difficult,

    • Build relationships with kind and encouraging people,

    • Develop an understanding of a work ethic, and

    • Handle the money they earn.

    One teenager accepted an 8-week job as a summer camp counselor. The job was not glamorous and many of her co-workers were challenging, so the teen frequently talked with her parents about the difficulties she was experiencing. Halfway into her commitment, she told her parents that four other camp counselors had just quit. The parents felt like the teen was looking for a way out as well.

    Both parents strongly advised her not to quit, reminding her of the commitment she made. She stayed, and to this day has never forgotten the lessons she learned about how to treat people, what respect looks like and that she had it in her to overcome adversity and finish what she started. She also learned a lot about herself that summer, and while she wouldn’t want to repeat it, she would not trade those valuable lessons. 

    Summer jobs can teach the life lessons most parents want to instill in their children as they prepare for independent living. 

    Your teen may simply want to build their resume for college or prepare to learn a vocation. Either way, securing a summer job can be just the character-building experience they need to give them that extra boost. It will certainly teach them lessons that will serve them wherever life takes them.