I have a 23-year old son who graduated in 2018 and is still not able to find a job. He does not want to follow his parent's advice and wants to do it on his own and because of Covid, the job market is also not favorable. He is not talking to us. I feel that he is feeling low, fear, unmotivated, and low confidence. He refuses to come and see a doctor or go for counseling. I am also getting discouraged because 2 years seems to be too long. I meditate regularly and send him positive vibes. No improvement. Help please.
—LS, United States
I feel for your concerns and for your son’s discouragement. This pattern is seen often around the world: a recent college graduate cannot or will not find work, and the longer he (usually a “he”) stays unemployed, the more difficult it becomes to find work. I’ve seen this pattern in families I know around here too in Seattle.
Please do continue your prayers. Graduation from college is, for many, the closing of the door of childhood, adolescence, and education, and the opening of a door onto a life of myriad opportunities – but like a long-caged bird facing the opened door, not everyone surveys the scene with enthusiasm. The prospect of going out into an uncaring world is difficult for some.
I’m sorry to feel to suggest the most difficult action of all: none — that is: patience! The more you express your concern, the more anxious, fearful, and intimidated, I would imagine, your son becomes. I suspect at this point “the less said, the better.” You didn’t say if he lives with you, but I will assume he lives on his own (somehow).
Since you can’t “make” him go look for work, and presumably you can’t “hand him” a job either, I suggest you back off making comments, suggestions, or worse, expressing impatience or criticism of any kind. Even questions can be off-putting (imagine saying “Have you found a job yet?”). Try letting him confide or speak when he feels to. If he lives with you, or when he comes by to see you, just be friendly and confident, going about your own business in a normal, relaxed manner. Share a meal, go for a walk, or do together whatever is natural to your relationship. Talk about neutral things or subjects that are at least normal in your family (but avoid the work issue). When he’s around be positive and upbeat, not dour and brooding. And yes, keep up your silent prayers.
Each of us must put out the energy to manifest our dharma and destiny. No one can do it for you. As Krishna says the Bhagavad Gita, “It is better to fail doing one’s own duty than to succeed on behalf of someone else’s duty.” Or as it is said in American English these days, “Don’t rescue another person from their issues.”
Be a calm parent who exudes confidence in her adult son’s future. If you are confident, perhaps he will feel more confident. By contrast, if you are critical, he will be self-critical and paralyzed from taking action.
Of course, if your son’s condition worsens, and his mental state deteriorates into clinical depression or other clear signs of mental disturbances, then other action may be necessary. But it may not yet be too late to change your approach and attitude in order to bolster his own confidence. (I am not suggesting it’s up to you to fix this or that you are the cause of his inertia, but as a parent, you naturally and obviously want to help.)
It will take some effort and patience on your part to make these changes. Be patient with yourself too, because your frustration and your concern are natural and not easy to hide from your son. Bit by bit…as Lahiri Mahasaya would put it: “Banat, banat ban jai!” (Doing, doing, soon done!)
Blessings to you and to your son!