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Ask Rene: What More Can We Do For Our Daughter?

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Ask Rene:
What More Can We Do For Our Daughter?

 

Rene, what more can I say and do to help support my 22-year-old daughter? She is a mother of two boys ages five and four. Her mother and I help with her youngest son while the other son is in pre-K; we have been helping her for six months now. The government has helped her purchase a new home two years ago based on her income; she has also filled out paper work for child care for the youngest. She works hard, putting in around 50 to 60 hours a week.

How can we continue to encourage her to fulfill her dreams as a single parent? She has never been married and the father of her two boys is in jail and has never paid child support. What suggestions would you have for us as loving parents and grandparents? 

Signed, 

Helpful, Hopeful Granddad

 

Hi there HHG:

Thanks for writing in. The one thing I’m struck by in your letter, is the word, help. I know as parents, we hate to see our kids struggle, especially when they’re working so hard. But often times people forget that there are valuable lessons to be learned in that struggle and us swooping in to help them at the first sign of trouble sometimes has the opposite effect; instead of teaching them to stand on their own with a chance to learn and grow, they adopt a sense of learned helplessness.

Perhaps the next thing you need to do is help your daughter learn to help herself. To that end, here’s what I would encourage her to do.

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SET GOALS

Set your goals words written on lined paper with a pen on it

 

No one ever goes on a trip without looking at a map so that’s where your daughter should start. She needs to outline her goals; put them on paper and in great detail. I know that sounds like a huge task so break it up into smaller pieces, goals for today, this week, this month and then this year. The last one should be goals for a lifetime. She can check them off as she reaches each one, something I find incredibly gratifying.

So if the yearly goal is to get a new job, the day-to-day goals involve filling out applications and sprucing up her resume. Weekly goals could be one interview each week. Monthly goals could be following up on those interviews and asking those who didn’t give her the job, what she could have done better (you’d be amazed at how much people are willing to help if you ask). But writing those things down will give her a sense that she’s actually covering real ground as opposed to feeling like a hamster on a treadmill.

Read more: Ask Rene: I Need Help! But Where Do I Start?

GET A MENTOR

Mentoring

Once your daughter has a clearer vision of where she wants to go, she needs a guide, someone who can help her mold her future. It would be great if it were someone who is in the industry she wants to be in.  A mentor won’t just help get her to the corner office (if that’s where she wants to be); they can also help with other life decisions along the way. One of the proudest moments in my professional career is serving as a mentor to Amy Montalvo, a young woman who started her career as a journalist and now has her own production company, One Pass, and travels the world, bringing important stories to light. I met Amy when she was in high school.. and more than a decade later, we’re still in touch. She bounces ideas off me and writes for GEM, too.

Your daughter should get online and just start poking around. I would also suggest she join professional networking websites, like LinkedIn and then find sub-groups where she can read about the experiences of other professionals.

Read more: 
Single Mom Slice Of Life: Teaching Our Children How To Fall 

BE A SAFETY NET

Businessman falling into a safety net on a white background

Tough talk for you, Granddad. We have to let our kids fail every once in a while, which means being more of a safety net than a safety harness. A safety harness keeps kids in place with limited opportunities to learn, stretch and grow. So they never find out how far they can go or what they can truly accomplish when they are forced to dig in. A safety net, on the other hand, affords them the freedom to try new things. And when one of the things they try doesn’t work, guess what happens? They file that away and learn never to do it again.  A little disappointment is not a bad thing.. and failure is a powerful teaching tool.

Read more: Are You A Safety Harness Or A Safety Net?

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With regard to helping your daughter stay positive and on track to fulfill her goals, I suggest two things: affirmation and accountability. Don’t skimp on the affirmations; give positive reinforcement and that behavior will likely be repeated. But there are two sides to that coin and that means you also have to hold her accountable. So when she makes a mistake, let her live with (and learn from) the consequences, which also extends to life.. and life partners.

Good luck, Granddad.. you guys will be great!

Do you have a question for Rene? She has an answer. Click here and fire away. And don’t forget to follow the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

More from GEM:

Are Women Too Afraid To “Lean In”?

 

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6 Comments

  1. Essie

    March 19, 2013 at 11:20 am

    I wouldn’t say less help I would say a different type of help. Everything you outlined is great advice. This young woman sounds like a hard worker and is on the right track. To echo one of the FB commenters previous generations all benefited from this type of help from family. As a young single mother she has an uphill battle but it sounds like she is meeting the challenge. At 22 a graduate from an elite college would have similar support from parents or older adults so why not this woman?

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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