Emily is a 13-year-old from Corona Ca. She enjoys reading, writing, and swimming, and her favorite subject is history because it inspires her to learn about other cultures.
13.9 million people in the U.S. are currently unemployed, many of which have families. Those unfortunate parents are plagued with stress and fear because they have more than just themselves to worry about. While it is commonly accepted that financial matters should be left for the adults in the family to handle, stress is placed upon teens in abundance. After all, our futures are possibly being limited in the midst of us planning our dreams.
My Dad hasn’t been able to keep a job in over two years and now he is approaching a time where it is now or never. When he was first laid off nobody was overly concerned – he’s a sheet metal worker so it’s common for him to lose his job when it is done. Typically a new job opportunity would come within a week or two but, this time nothing did. A month passed and more quickly followed after that and the longer time went on the closer my parents came to becoming completely engulfed with worry. Finally he found a job, only to be let go a few short weeks later. This happened five more times over the next year and each time I was overwhelmed with euphoria that was replaced with sorrow.
Emotionally, the constant ups, downs, and months of monotony are terribly confusing for teens. When so many promises are made and none kept it begins to create trust issues because there is trepidation that depending on people leads to betrayal. Also if the unemployed parent is seeking work elsewhere resentment for where you live is a concern because it shows teens that you are stuck someplace with minimal opportunities. That is actually what I struggle with the most having my Dad unemployed. Staying with that thought many people wait on the sides of roads hoping to get picked up for day labor because there isn’t enough official work in certain areas. He does do this, which is a very frightening concept since you don’t know if the guy who picks him up is commendable or a criminal.
I believe the way parents react to the loss and stress of unemployment has a considerable impact on the way their children, teens in particular, view your predicament. Though I am perfectly aware my parents’ perspective could be healthier they put a tremendous amount of effort into helping my brothers and I cope with instability that comes along with this situation. By trying to implement optimism as a family philosophy so to speak it made it easier for us to see the light at the end of this dark tunnel. Some advice for teens in specific are never to shoot down there questions. Instead, answer them in a way that isn’t condescending. When they have opinions on ways to conserve money welcome them and show encouragement by being conversational. This helps to build a more open relationship because by honestly answering their questions it eliminates some of the apprehension towards your family’s’ state of affairs.
Unemployment for any length of time puts an overwhelmingly heavy weight upon the shoulders of those it affects. It threatens to ruin lives and destroy futures. However, if dealt with correctly financial hardship can result in positive changes in your perspective that last a lifetime. Despite all of my family’s struggles I’m content with my life thanks to lessons I have and continue to learn. Some of the key philosophies I have adopted are: money isn’t everything as long as you are not alone and that through trials in life wisdom is gained. Still, every night I dream of a time when my Dad will keep and sheet metal job and hope I comes before that pathway in his life is closed. The main thing is, do not allow your teens to feel like they are alone; simply show them that you will be there for them always.
Image: Wisconsin Historical Images from Flikr