Ellen Gibran-Hesse's Tips:
- The economy is a blessing in disguise to start focusing again on job skills that young people need and haven't been getting for the last 2-3 decades. It is why we have a third of 18-34 year olds living with parents.
- It is important to look at how college works into a career and no longer believe that getting a degree is enough to land a good job. Without work experience, college students start at the bottom.
- College isn't the answer. A good plan on how to achieve career goals is the answer. It may or may not involve college. There are many options for becoming well educated for a career, not just four year colleges.
- Parents need to be involved helping their teens and young adults find their way in the work world through writing resumes, finding jobs, and thinking of where they are going in the next 2-5 years. This is the first generation of parents who stop parenting young adults believing that sending them to college is all that needs to be done.
- Work is an essential part of development for the teen and young adult brain and personality. Career pathway exploration through work is critical to young people becoming adults.
- Young people need life skills such as money management, time management, bill paying responsibility, and household responsibilities, i.e. chores. Keeping them from these responsibilities is crippling.
- If a "child," even one in their 40's, has come home to live, have a concrete plan in place for their returning to independence. If they never left home, start a concrete plan that is about a job, not college.
- If a parent is paying the bills, the "child" is in your employ. They need to earn their keep by job training or job hunting. Require a report.
- I use the golden hammer analogy as a way for parents to change their thinking. Parents assume if they give their children a golden hammer (college), a mansion (good career and job) will magically appear. You need a blueprint and some serious work to get the mansion.
- Schools need to change to give more job and life skills and opportunities to our young people. We need more career tech classes for all students.
Ellen Gibran-Hesse is a single parent with two sons, Richard and Adam, ages 19 and 22 as well as two "adopted" young adults, a young man, Justin, 24 and young woman, Gina, age 32. As the oldest of six children born in seven years, she assisted the raising of her siblings from a very young age. Ellen was so much their surrogate mother that when she went off to college at age 18, her parents blamed her for the family falling apart and their children falling into drugs and rebellion.
Ellen obtained a B.S. in psychology from the University of Washington in Seattle, worked for 10 years in nursing before going to law school. She has done a great deal of volunteer work with young people and continued to study child development as a hobby. In all of her work with young people, she saw how we as a culture were failing our young people miserably.
As she began to help friends and family with creating independence in their teens and college age students, it became apparent that parents need new tools and new ways of dealing with the parenting of young adult children. The greatest test of Ellen's approaches came in 2004, when Justin's aunt left him with her. What turned into a request that he stay for just a weekend, became a total abandonment.
Justin's single alcoholic mother lived in the Midwest and had never taught him many life skills needed to succeed. She was also unavailable and unwilling to assist in helping Justin as was his aunt. In short, Ellen was told to throw him out of her house if that's what it took. Justin was only 19 and as result of learning disabilities, personal insecurities, and growing up in an alcoholic home, he had never gotten a driver's license, only worked part time, and was socially shy. Within six months, Justin, through coaching, had succeeded in his getting his driver's license, a full time job, created three resumes, gone on several job interviews in areas he was interested working in, created his own pet and house sitting business, and learned how to secure car insurance, a car, a place of his own and developed the confidence in himself to create his own social niche.
She has since set out to help parents navigate not only how to provide adult skill sets but to better parent in these early adult years so that we all experience the warm and rewarding adult-to-adult relationship we want with our children.