Reader: I read your response on "Teen's job search can help build adult skills" (May 14). I'm 14. My older siblings are in their early 20s, yet they don't have jobs.
They supposedly have social anxiety and can't talk on the phone except with close friends. We all live with our parents, who are divorced but still living together. Money is a pretty big issue, and there is conflict. My mom tried to make the family go to counseling, but it didn't help. I've tried finding work at places that offer positions for my age, with no luck. Sometimes it feels like if I don't get a job, we won't even have a house anymore.
I've tried motivating my siblings by telling them how many jobs there are and how much it'd help, but they are stubborn. This may sound strange for my age, but I'm concerned about them. Do you have any motivation or ways to get them to work?
Karla: First, if it helps to hear this, you are not alone. Your situation — money tight, jobs scarce and emotions high — reflects the challenges many families face in the current economy.
It's been well-documented that millennials, the generation your siblings are in, are facing a tough job market. And though it's hard to find exact data, experts in the field are increasingly hearing of couples who have children and have decided that though the marriage is over, "financially it makes sense to continue to live together," according to Mindy Scott, who studies family relationships for the nonprofit research organization Child Trends.
You're clearly a caring, perceptive person who wants to do your part. Unfortunately, there are limits to how you can or should help. For example, I don't know of any magic phrase or strategy guaranteed to make adult siblings (or children, or spouses, or partners) go out and get jobs. (Believe me, I've looked.) And supporting your family financially is not your responsibility. Right now, your main job is to focus on two things: school and self-care.
Finishing high school is one of the most important steps you can take to help you get jobs in the future — and doing well could help you win scholarships to allow you to go further in your education, which could help you get even better jobs. Meanwhile, you should also work on self-care: developing coping skills and healthy boundaries that allow you to be supportive without trying to solve all your family's problems. Ask your mom to take you to solo counseling, or ask a teacher or adviser about school counseling and support groups.
As far as a job now, it's important to keep in mind that students working 20 hours a week or more can suffer academic setbacks, according to Child Trends. But if you still want to find a paying gig, Scott said the following organizations have programs to help teens break into the workforce: Boys & Girls Clubs (bgca.org ), Goodwill Industries ( goodwill.org ) and YMCA ( ymca.net).
Good luck, and keep us all posted. We're rooting for you.