A Parent’s Job Is Never Done


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I heard an interesting comment at a wedding over the weekend regarding the current generation. An acquaintance was talking about how his brother was working with some recent college graduates, and how they work really hard on the job, but when they go home all they do is play video games. He described them as intelligent and hard working, but lacked the common skills of shoveling a driveway because all they did in their off time was play games. I laughed a little bit, shrugging it off as your typical older generation looking down on the younger generation sort of comment.

Later that evening, I found myself wondering if there really was some truth to the statement.

When we returned home from the wedding, I knocked on my son’s bedroom door to hear about his day at work. Earlier that afternoon he had worked his first weekend shift at his first part-time job, and I was curious how it went. Because of other information he had already told me, I knew that it was also the end of the currently posted schedule, so I was also also interested in hearing what he was scheduled to work for the next two weeks.

The conversation that followed was disappointing.

Schedule? What Schedule?

When asked when he was next scheduled, he indicated he didn’t know. When asked if the new schedule was out, he didn’t know. When asked what his plan was to get that information, he just shrugged his shoulders. He could be scheduled to work the very next day, and he wouldn’t know. Throughout his training period, his manager had been telling him when to come in next. I’m not sure if he expected this to continue, or what may have been rolling around in his head.

I Get Paid For This?

I also asked him, for the 50th time, if he had asked anyone about when the pay period ends, and when he would get his first paycheck. He had failed to get that information as well. After some prompting he had brought in the direct deposit information. But he had no idea when payday was, when he would get his first paycheck, or if his direct deposit information would be processed quickly enough for his first paycheck.

There are countless lessons and skills my son will learn from his first job. But, the main reason we all go to work is to earn money. I thought that knowing when he would be rewarded for his hard work would be his top priority.

The Dad Speaks

I could feel the urge to rip into him grow throughout out conversation. I’m sure the frustration showed in my voice. But I also remember what it’s like to be a teenager, and just yelling in a “Don’t you know anything?” kind of tone doesn’t accomplish much. I also remembered that this is all new to him, so I took a deep breath and started off like this:

“This isn’t me coming down on you, telling you that you’re doing something wrong. This is me, as your father, trying to teach you something.”

We talked about the importance of the information he was missing. I told him he’s now in the “Big Time,” and the responsibility to get this information rests fully on his shoulders. I read in a blog post once, “Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong.”

The next morning we stopped by his employer after church. He disappeared through a door that said Employees Only, and emerged a few minutes later with a picture of the schedule on his cell phone. He was told he would have to call a specific person on Monday regarding his paycheck questions.

I know that the task of teaching your children never ends. I’m 41 years old, and I still call my mom and dad for advice. However, I’d never been more aware of this fact as I was this past weekend. Sure, we’ve moved past the learning to walk, don’t put things in your mouth, throwing the baseball phases. My son is on the cusp of adulthood, and yet I realized that he needs me more than ever to teach him about life, the world, and being a man.

I guess you could say that we’re both now in the “Big Time.”

About Travis

14 Responses to “A Parent’s Job Is Never Done”

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  1. A good reminder for all of us with children. My kids being a few steps behind your on these things I’m getting a sneak peak on things to come. I don’t parenting ever ends, it just evolves.

    • Travis says:

      I agree, Brian – the kind of parenting I’m doing now is not something I could have ever imagined when I was younger. I’m not complaining though, I’ve loved parenting every step of the way….except for potty training. I could have absolutely done without that. LOL.

  2. I had to venture out early in life to make a life for myself and always wished I had my parents to rely on for some advice. My daughter is only 8 so I have lots of time to continue to establish a good relationship with her for I want to always be here for when she needs me later in life. Good luck.

  3. Kim says:

    I think parents tend to do way too much for their kids. I can understand that, but it’s not healthy not to let them be a bit independent. It’s great that your son has a part time job and is learning the ropes before getting into the real world.

    • Travis says:

      There’s a lot of things that he needs to learn that….I’m figuring that out more every day – things just keep popping up. For instance, he got his first paycheck…..and it was a paper check. I asked him if he knew what to do with it – and he just had this glazed look in his eye. Thinking about it, why would he know how to cash a check…..? Time for a field trip to the bank!

  4. Oh man I can’t imagine how frustrating that conversation must have been. Kudos to you for resisting the urge to say “WHAT? YOU DON’T KNOW WHEN YOU WORK NEXT????” I hope I’m half as patient as you when I’m a father.

  5. JMH says:

    Very good, I wish I could have know some of this early too.

  6. ha ha I felt frustrated FOR YOU reading that. I imagine it’s difficult to find the right balance between letting them learn for themselves and trying to teach them so they don’t make huge mistakes. I saw in your FB post that he just got his first check though! Yay!!

  7. This sounds very familiar. There is a staggering number of skills involved in transitioning through the teen years, and so many of them just seem intuitive to adults – but they’re not. Each one has to be learned. You handled this situation perfectly.
    1. You checked in with your son.
    2. You recognized your own anger and got it under control.
    3. You taught him with your words.
    4. You followed through, and required him to follow through.
    There’s a lesson in this for many parents of teens. Including me. Thanks.

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