I had lunch with a friend who was worried sick about her college-senior son. Her complaint: He is directionless and unable to take action to get a job. Not only hasn't he signed up with his college's job-search office or applied to opportunities his mother has suggested or unearthed. He hasn't even written a resume--no less let his parents review it for him.
His post-grad plans, such as they are, include living in an apartment with his current roommate--a chemical engineering major--who landed a high-paying job with a corporation. How will he pay the rent? his mother asked. "He told me his roommate might help him out for a few months," the mom says, clucking her tongue and getting angry all over again.
It's scary. College days--and the comparative irresponsibility of those years--are coming to an end. Reality needs to be faced. When she was his age, this mom says, "I knew no help would be coming from my parents. I was on my own. You can bet I had a job by the time I graduated."
These years when our children are "emerging adults" are tricky ones. A lot of "tough love" v. "helping hand" decisions are suddenly upon us. Job hunting is no one's idea of a good time. My friends older son, who graduated from a top liberal arts college, is still struggling to find a "career" job. He's taking himself off to graduate school next year--he sees that as the only way to get ahead in his field. His younger brother can't help but know how tough it's going to be out there. A good athlete and student, he seems almost unnerved by having to try his wings in an arena where he doesn't know if he'll be "good" or not.
Mother and son are barely speaking at this point. The dad's job has taken him out of the country for long stretches so she feels she is on her own in guiding this talented but un-ambitious son.
I try to reassure her that he will grow out of his lackadaisical style, that he will figure things out. [I've written this post on the outgrowing phenomenon.] That's what a growing body of literature suggests will happen. For my friend in the eye of the storm, it's hard to keep any perspective about eventual growth and growing up. Not when so many of her son's friends have done so already.