Helping Your Son Grow into Adulthood

Question

I have been very religious and started meditating and going deep into my spiritual practices. I have a 22-year old son who recently graduated with a major in computer engineering. He is applying for jobs but so far, no luck. It's been more than 3 months now. He doesn’t want to take his parents guidance or any help from friends who are willing to offer him help. He doesn’t open up much with us. All I want is for him to just take our guidance and take the help of his friends to find a job. Please guide me on how to help him. Thank you.

—Lavanya Suraparaju, United States

Answer

Dear Friend,

I too have had my children grow up, go to college, and begin their lives. While 22 years old is not very “old,” we as parents need to understand that we have raised our children with the natural expectation that they would become adults and become responsible for their lives as we did. We/they and all people are given the freedom by God to learn and grow by success and failure and so too must we as parents let our adult children go their own way; make their own mistakes and earn their own victories and life experiences.

It is important that so long as your son does not seek or want, or especially if he rejects your advice – that you leave him to find his way in life. There are no coincidences. Difficulties are there to strengthen us. He — like you and me — must go through our own tests, karma, and dharma.

While as a parent and a more mature adult you, no doubt, have reason for your concerns and presumably good advice but what this translates to him is a lack of faith and trust in his own abilities. Odd as it may seem or sound, your urgent sense to give him advice simply reinforces for him that he is still a child needing his parents and not capable of acting as an adult. That may even, in fact, be true but how else will he grow?

Your role now, given that he doesn’t seem to be open to your guidance, is to feel hope and express support for him in other ways than in his job-seeking. This support can be quiet and indirect but has its roots in wishing for him the best that he can be; it means expressing your love and support, not your disappointment, fears, and concerns.

This comes down to practicing non-attachment and respecting the boundaries of a young adult to find his way in life. As Krishna counsels in the Gita, “It is better to fail at one’s own dharma than to succeed in fulfilling someone else’s!”

My teacher, Swami Kriyananda (founder of Ananda worldwide and direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda) counseled my wife and me years ago when our young teenage son was rebellious. He said, look to your son’s core positive qualities and focus on these in your mind and heart — NOT on his current words and actions. This we did and in time, our son had learned his lessons and has grown to be a fine young man with his own family and a successful career.

“Patience,” it has been said, “is the quickest road to success (and to God).” Be positive; be hopeful; and have faith in the goodness of all things, even difficulties (which are necessary to help us learn and grow in truth).

Sincerely with unceasing blessings,

Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA
www.Hrimananda.org