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Getting Teen Motivated to Get a Job

By June 12, 2012

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In my mailbox from Josh: I have a soon-to-be-19-year-old brother living with me. (I'm 13 years and 1 day older). He came here under the stipulation that he would find a job to earn money and help pay toward living here and raise money for college and to take opportunity of Georgia's HOPE scholarship after he had been here and working for a year.

He had never held a job before, and his search ran up against the economic crunch. However, it's been 8 months now, and I think that's more than enough time to find a McDonald's job or something like that.

I'll be talking to him tomorrow, as I asked him to think about his future plans and told him I need to plan my own finances. I've asked him to start pay $225 a month toward household finances, a modest amount, starting on May 20. He got a job briefly, but it ended up just being an on-call weekend only thing and has not worked out. My mom has told him he needs to get serious and take action. I've told him the same, though I've been more lenient.

Anyway... I think it's perfectly reasoned and fine to tell him that I expect him to have a job within 4 to 6 weeks and that if not, I can no longer support him. Perhaps he'll need to go home, or beg to stay with his grandparents, but a 19-year-old man not in school, with no job, is not something I can support.

I plan to say what I need to say factually and without anger, and I will follow up with him with it written down in email, but I believe I simply have to be firm. Wondering if you have experience or have heard of situations like these?

Denise's thoughts: I've been in similar experiences. Here is how I handled them: Since having a job is not something in his total control, I would put my stipulations on things that are in his total control. Filling out 5-10 applications a week and making 2-5 call-backs a week, starting the second week. That is actively looking for a job.

If he was unwilling to do that, I would send him home to mom.

Asking our parenting community: How have your motivated your teen to get a job? Please share your thoughts, opinions and advice in the comments area.

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May 8, 2009 at 12:21 pm
(1) Doug says:

A coworker shared this story with me:
He went to live with his father in another state for a summer vacation. His father gave him one week to find a job on his own. The week passed without much of an attempt to find a job, so his dad did the following.
He would take his son to work each day and the son had to walk home, looking for a job. It took less than a week to find a job with a long walk home as motivation! I have shared this with my teenagers and they know that if they have not found a job by the start of summer vacation, they will be leaving the house with me early each morning.

May 9, 2009 at 1:23 pm
(2) Kelly says:

Hello! My 18 year old brother got kicked out of school in December. I gave him 45 days to find a job, get his GED, go to the military or leave the house. He did leave the house for about 9 hours. He did fill out a few applications, but didn’t follow through with them. he did pass his GED. But I also took him to the military and he’s completing AIT (advanced training) and then will be stationed in Texas, I think. He could also go to Iraq, but he does get paid.

Be firm with what you say. Write what will happen on paper so that you both agree, have him sign it. Put it on the fridge so it’s there. Let him worry about what he needs to do. When the time frame is up, and he does not have a job or not having a date to go into the service, then say, you need to be out by 6pm.

It’s tough to do, but the kids now adays are lazier than ever and parents have allowed that. You can do that and he needs to do it.

May 12, 2009 at 9:03 am
(3) michelle says:

Your doing great by having a time frame. You Might want to sit down with him to write a goal list. Keeping in mind we all need some on to guide us our hole lives. We are always growing by learning form other. Letting know this is his choice and you hope he makes the right one.

May 19, 2010 at 10:04 am
(4) Carol says:

I have a son who will be 18 in Aug going into his Sr year in high school. He wants to skateboard after school and much of the summer. I have had him get 5 apps a week and return them the next day or same day. The following week follow up on those apps. We live in a small town of 3400 and very hard for adults even to get jobs. If he doesnt get a job by schools end (2 weeks) he will be working free helping Srs in town with day labor and work at the food bank and odd jobs for a couple of people he worked for last summer. I did similar with my 21 yr old son who moved back in. If he didnt have a job within the mo. he moved back in, he worked with Srs and food bank for free. He got a job within that month working for a lawn service.

September 13, 2011 at 2:03 pm
(5) Michelle says:

I really like the idea that if your child does not find a job within the time frame you put forth that he will be volunteering his time, I am gonna suggest that to my husband about our son.

May 19, 2010 at 12:29 pm
(6) tricia says:

In reading the comments before mine including Denise’s to begin with, I noticed they all had time frames, incentives, definite steps, consequences, etc. So, just like having a job comes with certain duties, GETTING a job comes with certain duties. Make those duties clear and fire him (so to speak-from living with you) if he shirks those responsibilities. My own son, who is younger but now has a job that took him 9 months to get, would spend his time, if he could, hanging out with friends, playing video games and watching t.v. all summer. We think these sort of leisure activities make us happy, but in the long run, they are unhealthily self-indulgent and deadening to one’s motivation and self-confidence. If your brother is doing a lot of this, think of it like doing drugs and put a stop to it or put boundaries on how much. I liked Doug’s comment that someone took their kid to work with them and made them walk home looking for a job. That’s the kind of strategy that literally removes the lazy body from the home and makes it move.

September 13, 2011 at 2:06 pm
(7) Michelle L says:

As a mother of a 19 year old son who is motivated to do nothing but skateboard, play video games and hang out with friends I agree. There will be drastic changes here soon.

June 21, 2010 at 2:52 pm
(8) Linda says:

I live in a smallish town with no jobs.I struggle to find a job but I keep trying. I have a 16 year old that needs to get off his behind and get a job. He sits at home playing video games and only looks for a job when nagged. He is a good young man but is driving me nuts staying at home all day.

January 7, 2011 at 9:15 pm
(9) Amy says:

I am having a problem getting my daughter (high school senior)to get a job. Last semester she was in a sport so I didn’t push her to get a job then. This semester she isn’t in a sport and has plenty of free time. After school she does her homework, then watches tv and often goes over to a friend’s house to hang out. I’m a single mother and have been paying for her gas. Every time I ask her if she has looked for a job she gets very, very defensive and angry. She says that if I would stop asking her about getting a job, she would. This makes no sense at all, since the reason I am asking is that I do not see her looking for a job. I do know though that she has applied to 2 places, but that is about it. I have a friend that has offered to get her a job as a waitress, but she has said she doesn’t want to do that. I’m very frustrated and not sure how to get her to get a job. I liked your suggestion of having the teenager fill out 5-10 applications a week, but how can I enforce this? If I stop paying for her gas, I’m concerned that she won’t go to school and then that will cause more problems and if I take away her cell phone then her father will get upset that I’ve severed their communications. Any suggestions?

July 5, 2011 at 10:06 pm
(10) jennifer says:

I also have a 18 year old daughter and has basicallyrefused to get a job for three years she has no ambition for life .she has graduated and we have even gone to councilin for this but nothing has helped I have made her put applications in so many places and no luck .I work earlly and have gotten her up to go with me .she has no cell phone no drivers licence and no want for it ,she needs new clothes personal items and she just don’t care .I gave her a time line tonight that if she doesn’t have a job by September 1st I’m taking her down to inlist in the army and that I will take her bed and light bulbs out of her bedroom .I feel bad but she has no want to grow up so I’m forcing her there’s no other choice.she tells me she will go live on the streets and that really scares me please help me with some advice cause I’m lost with this .oh I forgot to mention I’m her step mom but she’s been mine for nine years and her real mom lives way far away and doesn’t want her there doing the same thing.

July 6, 2011 at 7:07 am
(11) Denise says:

That sounds like depression. She needs to see a doctor, not just a counselor. Make an appointment for her and tell them when you do that she doesn’t have the desire to take care of herself and it’s been going on for 3 years. If she is sleeping ll the time, let them know.

Good luck to her and you!

September 13, 2011 at 1:58 pm
(12) Michelle says:

My son graduated this past June, he is turning 19 in a few weeks, we have told him he needs to show effort to find a Job within a months time frame he put in two applications, so what I think we are gonna do is turn off his cell phone at that 30 day mark n tell him he’s got another 30 days to be in school, bring home 5 applications a week, go to job corps, or enlist in some kind of service, or he’s gonna have to move out. I truly believe when he sees that we are serious, he will then get serious. I agree with the others that if we don’t put a stop to the laziness our children will not do it on their own. All he wants to do is skateboard, play video games n hang out with friends, while we provide money for his leisure time. It ain’t happening. My husband thinks he’s just a big kid, and will blossom in his own time, but I ain’t having it. Am I wrong? Any comments will be much appreciated.

June 13, 2012 at 9:55 am
(13) Lynn says:

I agree with all the ideas and motivational ways that get teens to realize that they cannot free load. Depending on where you live, it is tough to find jobs. It has been reported that teens are competing with unemployed adults and jobs for them are scarce and have not been this way since the second world war. I think making them responsible entrepreneurs is a way for them to earn money if they are unable to find work. They can work around the neighborhood cutting lawns etc.

June 13, 2012 at 4:52 pm
(14) Dorothy says:

I have a daughter who will be 18 in August, also has a daughter who will be one in a couple of weeks. I have repeatedly told her she needs to get a job to help support her daughter. She has done only a few applications in the last 2 years. She is very smart and high honors in school she is due to graduate in about 5 days. I have helped her with caring for my granddaughter so she could finish school, guided her in regards to getting child support, etc. I have told her she cannot live with me if she is going to continue to not work. She says she is starting a class for her CNA, and then wants to go to Nursing school. That is all fine and well, but what about now???? I worry about kicking her out due to my granddaughter, and my own worries on some of her parenting skills. Any comments or suggestions would be helpful??

June 15, 2012 at 9:36 am
(15) Denise Guide to Parenting Teens says:
July 30, 2012 at 9:37 am
(16) misty says:

I also have 21 yr old daughter who has no ambition for life whatsoever. I took her to the army she failed test probably on purpose, just figure that from passed mean things etc. Also went to a 9 month medical assistant program, parent plus loans and all the others r on me cuz she has only one or two, won’t even send in forbearance papers! Just don’t know what to do with her. She also skipped 50 questions on her test at med school, ugh God help us all amen!

October 29, 2012 at 8:15 pm
(17) Cher Gray says:

I have an 18 yr. old that also lacks motivation and won’t take the iniative.She waits until someone tells her to do things.Relatives say I should have been more demanding of her growing up, but frankly I did what I could to raise her alone and make sure she was fed and had a home.She is a good kid, I made ita point to discipline her well and it paid off.But now that she’s graduated, how do I get it across that the ball is in her court now? Have we coddled our kids too much so they aren’t prepared for adulthood? Am I expecting too much for her to show a little enthusiam?Help!

January 21, 2013 at 5:28 am
(18) nashiem says:

hay i need a jobe 4 the summer i can work any time call me 919 619 4477

January 21, 2013 at 5:29 am
(19) nashiem says:

o yea im 14 teen year old

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