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Dealing with Your Unemployed Child

emotions“It’s like a stab in the heart.”  That’s how an acquaintance with an unemployed adult child describes feeling when friends tell about their children’s success.  And, she related, it leaves her wondering what’s wrong with her child when others seem to be landing jobs.

Those feelings are all too common among baby boomer parents. Often your own emotional state can negatively impact your relationship with your child as you vacillate between wanting to scream at them and smother with hugs.

How can you positively “enable” your unemployed adult child?  Career counselor Carol Ross offered several suggestions in an article at NextAvenue.org.

First she suggested backing off: don’t look for a daily update on whether anyone has responded to those resumes sent out.  Your child will likely let you know when there’s a response.

What can you do helpful without being overbearing? Ms. Ross writes:

Be sensitive to your child’s need to feel independent, especially with a boomerang adult: Be willing to create a different kind of relationship from the last time your child lived with you, one that will work for both sides. It can be as simple as stating there’s no expectation to eat meals together.

Listen more, talk less. If your child asks for help in the job search, take the time to hear what he needs before offering advice. He may just want to spill his feelings to get your support, rather than learning your tips on interviewing well.

Encourage your child to do things that reinforce his self-esteem and make him feel productive. This could include anything from volunteer activities or picking up a childhood hobby to working out at the gym and brainstorming a start-up.

Adapt your comforting techniques. Some people respond best to competition; some prefer gentle encouragement; some like to work with an accountability partner to keep their job search on track.

Great ideas, and admittedly easier to read about than put into action.  The job search, which can take six months or more, is ego-deflating for both your child and you.  How you interacted with your child will likely be long remembered after that job search is a distant memory.

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