You Can Lead a Kid to College, But You Can’t Make Him Work


We all try to be the best parents that we can be.  We strive to send our kids to the right schools.  We monitor their homework, shuttle them to sports practices and every activity imaginable.  They finally make it all the way through the prescribed amount of education and you think, “Sweet, my job here is getting so much easier. Now that he’s all done with his education, Junior can get a full time job and I can pass the responsibility of any remaining payments over to him!  After a few months of free or reduced rent, he should even have enough saved to fly solo.”  You can finally claim that extra room that you’ve always wanted for your craft room.  Or maybe as a den of sweet refuge from a spouse that snores like a freight train!  But Junior has another agenda.  He’s not ready to begin adulting in earnest.  He might dabble in work, but not enough to achieve the lofty and age appropriate expectations that you have for him.  But you can’t MAKE him hold a job if his heart isn’t in it.   You can’t control whether he is sufficiently motivated to work, but there are a lot of ways to incentivize him to do so.  If he is not working, then his time belongs to him, right?   Not really, as long as his body resides at your address!   Here are some ideas that might inspire him to more fervently step up that elusive search for a full time job:

  • Insist that he get up early, get ready for work, and out of the house Monday-Friday with regularity during the day to simulate a typical job. Too much leisure time spent waiting for an employer to find him can make him lose precious motivation.  Some productive pursuits include:
    • Spending time at the library learning or applying for jobs and thinking of employment strategies
    • Volunteering at a place that might include valuable contacts
      • New skills could also help fluff up the resume
    • Seeking out and attending job fairs
    • Visiting local employment agencies
  • After he spends the week treating his job search like a full time job, be sure that you include him in your evening chores. After all, you probably worked all day also but somebody still has to do laundry, cook and clean up!
  • Cut off any cash that is flowing from your wallet into his hands for items such as:
    • Gas
    • Car insurance
    • Cell phone
    • Personal maintenance items
    • Outside food and beverages

If the first two points don’t provide the necessary motivation, the last one should.  Most of us would fight like a tiger to keep everything on that list.  I realize that a cell phone is considered a necessity to receive employment offers in a home that doesn’t include a landline.  However, a smartphone, the communication device of choice, is still a luxury item.

There are jobs out there.  They might not be his dream job and he probably won’t start in management.  But he has to start somewhere.  After he spends a few weeks at the library with a peanut butter sandwich, water and a flip phone, that might light a fire inside him that you’ve never seen before!

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