Posted by fxckfeelings on August 13, 2015Share This Post
Finding equilibrium in your life is hard; as we discussed earlier this week, creating balance in a family of unbalanced people is nearly impossible. In other families, however, you can coach someone into a new, more positive direction. In doing so, you can help them create more security in their own lives, improving their balance and strengthening your bonds instead of risking them.
I worry about my son because he’s had a hard time getting his life started since he graduated from college a few years ago. He’s very bright and was always a hard worker, but, right after he graduated, it took him a long time to get going and find a job, probably due to a combination of depression, anxiety, and no focus. In any case, he’s now working, but he needs a graduate degree if he wants to make a decent salary in his field and have any sort of financial security, and he never gets around to applying or even looking into possible local programs. He’s not touchy about being pushed, but I hate the idea of nagging him. My goal is to get him to see that he needs to do more if he really wants to be independent.
Helping kids get organized does not require nagging, just administration. Remember, a good boss doesn’t nag, just sets a clear direction for a good reason, assumes that’s what you want to do, and helps you get there. Take that approach as a parent, particularly when, as in your case, your son doesn’t get angry about being advised, encouraged, or incentivized.
Don’t be nervous about pushing your son to get a graduate degree or take any other steps for moving beyond the minimum wage. Just keep your message positive and not personal; if you’re thoughtful about your advice, he might give it more thoughtful consideration.
If you see an opportunity for him, let him know what it is, why you think it’s worthwhile, and then spell out the steps he needs to take. Ask him whether he’s got a better plan or feels that he’s not yet ready to make a decision. Obviously, the decision is his, but if the main thing holding him back is a lack of energy or an inability to get organized, offer to provide motivation and structure.
Don’t imply that he’s lazy or unmotivated. Do imply that good, smart people can have trouble making complex decisions about what to do next and, if so, you’ve got good ideas for helping. If he seems to welcome your help, set deadlines for tasks and celebrate their completion. If not, encourage him to explore other opportunities and seek advice from others.
So far, the only impasse facing you is caused by self-doubt. Give advice, keep it positive, and you will probably find that your son benefits and is grateful. You can be the boss without being bossy, and be a great boss, at that.
“I hate to intrude and I wish my son could get moving on his own, but he has great strengths and I may be able to supply a few missing pieces. I will try, while focusing on his abilities, and see if he can benefit from coaching.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname