Picture this if you will. An 18 year old wants to get a job but has never filled out a job application before.
His mother walks him through every part of the application, telling him what to put in each section. He asks her for references and for what he should write on the entire application. Then, he gets her to drive him to the fast food place so that he can turn the application in. She does it. He goes in, drops it off and comes right back. “I gave it to the girl at the counter. Let’s go home.”
This boy is unprepared for job hunting, for form filling, and for life in general. We raised several kids before we realized that this would be an issue. Seriously.
There are several things wrong with the scene I just narrated.
1. The kid doesn’t have a driver’s license.
2. He has no idea how to fill out a job application, or who he could use as personal references.
3. He didn’t ask to see the manager to give the application to.
4. He left so fast that if the manager did happen to want to chat with him on the spot, he was already gone.
When you have kids who aren’t the most motivated, it can be tough to teach those lessons, but it is so necessary. Let’s take driving for example.
All of our teens could drive. They grew up riding motorcycles. Washington requires all minors to take a driver’s education course in order to get their license. We decided there would be a mark they had to hit if we were going to pony up the $300 for the class.
We didn’t set the bar very high, really. All we required of them is that they carried all C’s or higher in school. All of them attended public high school, and C’s aren’t real hard to get.
Our oldest daughter did it. She got good grades, took driver’s ed and got her license ON her 16th birthday. The next two kids didn’t have a single semester where they didn’t have at least one D. This was not for lack of intelligence, rather it was lack of motivation. They didn’t like school and didn’t really care about a driver’s license because we drove them everywhere. (Lesson learned!)
Our third daughter attended community college as a high school student and maintained Dean’s List standing, yet she too did not care about having a driver’s license.
She got a bus pass for her 16th birthday.
We still needed to drive her around a bit though as she got off work after 10pm, but she did also hold a job, pay for her own phone, and get herself around most of the time.
We learned the hard way, and gradually we started raising the bar. Our youngest daughter was forced to be responsible, much more than the older kids. We heard “it’s not fair” a lot, but we knew that if we did everything for her like we did the other kids, she would have been in the same boat. She did finally get her license, at the age of 18 and out of necessity (when she no longer had the driver’s ed requirement).
We thought we were helping our older kids, but we weren’t. Kids need to be faced with responsibilities and learn to take those on without having their hands held.