Our Adult Kids Both Faced Work Crises: Four Ways We Helped

Our two children grew up in a dual income family watching us balance our careers, our marriage, and parenting them as a team. My mantra as they grew and advanced from one stage to the next was: I just need to get them through college. I thought that once the stress of the college years were over for all of us, we could rest easy as they graduated and landed their first jobs.

Like most, we worked to make sure their focus was on their classes and devoting themselves to doing well and enjoying the college social scene. We worked hard to remove any obstacles or distractions that interfered with that focus.

We balanced sharing any negative news and kept financial discussions to the bare minimum always considering where they were on the continuum of studying for exams, working on projects, volunteering, and all of the things they had going on. We were so proud of them and of ourselves as we watched them at their commencement ceremonies and as each decided to pursue advanced degrees in their field.

We never let our kids know how hard it is to go to work every day. (Shutterstock Prostock-studio)

As parents, we left out some very teachable life skills

We have since learned that we left out some vital information and teachable life skills. We masked how hard it is to go work each day. How the workplace is and can be extremely competitive and a harsh place at times. How a toxic environment or manager can whittle away at your self-esteem leaving you to doubt your competency and performance.

How it is when co-workers fail to show up and you are left with a mountainous workload. How it feels when your conscientiousness and work ethic is rewarded by the continuous dump of more to do and less time to do it in. How workplace stress can result in sleepless nights, ‘what if’ scenarios, and down-the-rabbit-hole thinking.

We assumed our college grads knew life is full of tough days

All of this sounds like common sense – they should have known there would be tough days. They should have the tools to navigate a bad day or a bad week like they did in school and come out the other side.

But what if you are a healthcare worker fresh out of school excited to embark on your new career as a therapist and suddenly the world has shut down due to a pandemic leaving you to treat patients and manage a clinic alone?

What if you are a professional working in the financial market and the Silicon Valley bank collapse leaves you to respond to phones ringing off the hook trying to salvage customers’ investments while your own fate looms?

Never in our wildest dreams would we have imagined either of those scenarios for our grown and flown kids but they happened. Both scenarios came on without warning and dragged on for considerable time. In our supportive role as parents, we watched their mental health take a nose dive with severe anxiety and panic attacks.

We learned from many of our own friends and coworkers that their grown children were also suffering with mental health issues, many attributable to the effects of the pandemic. Many of us questioned, what did we miss and what could we have done better? As with every life experience, good or bad, there are always opportunities to learn.

What we learned as we helped our adult children navigate their workplace crises

1. Don’t sugarcoat reality

As parents and role models we never meant to sugarcoat reality. Showing up to work every day, doing your best, and getting ahead is hard. We tried to leave the really bad times at the door to show up for our family but maybe we could have shared more stories or experiences of the challenges we faced and how we handled them.

2. This too shall pass

Reassurance and reminders that today is a bad day, a bad week or even a bad month but better times lay ahead are important. We pointed to past challenges they faced in school, in team sports or with friends that worked themselves out. All of us feel like the bad times will consume us so being reminded that they will pass and to look to the brighter days ahead is encouraging and can even bring light to the situation.

3. Believe in yourself and your resiliency

This works hand in hand with “This too shall pass.” Reminding our adult children that they are resilient and strong and citing examples is so important when they are feeling consumed or helpless. Being reminded of who you are at your core is critical to promoting the belief that you can weather the storm.

4. Communicate and ask for help

Most importantly our family has leaned into communicating and mental health check-ins. Pointedly saying, “I am checking in on you- how are you doing today?” is something we learned to do to open the door to communication and to let them know we are as concerned with their mental health as we are with their physical well-being.

Removing the stigma and obstacles to seeking professional counseling has been something else we learned to do like many families. It’s okay not to be okay is universal. It’s not okay to ignore it, look the other way, or sweep it under the rug. Reaching out to others for referrals to access affordable and accessible resources helps to lift us all to a better place.

More Great Reading:

How Parents Can Help College Students Manage Stress

About Diane Beatini

Diane Beatini is an experienced healthcare executive currently working as the Principal, Customer Advisory Services at HealtheConnections, the Health Information Exchange (HIE) covering 26 NYS counties. 

Diane has an MBA in Marketing and has 20 years of executive level experience in field sales management, business development, account management and customer service in the HCIT, radiology, medical device, and pharmaceutical industries.  She is experienced in building/developing teams for strong performance and enjoys a successful track record in working with prominent hospital and healthcare systems. Diane resides in New Jersey with her husband and their beloved yellow lab. Her interests and passions include her two G&F children, traveling, entertaining, painting, and writing.

Read more posts by Diane

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