Cancel the guilt trip

Joey Garcia

My girlfriend and I have lived together for six years. We both have children from our previous relationships, but none together. I raised my sons to be independent and resourceful, and they are. My girlfriend’s oldest daughter has a criminal record and expects her mother to hand out cash whenever asked. Her middle boy is on academic probation at college. The youngest girl is in high school and my girlfriend has promised her a new car and a summer trip to Europe. My girlfriend expects me to pay for all of it. My girlfriend’s daughter lives with us half-time, and with her father half-time. He is capable of paying for these extra expenses, but my girlfriend doesn’t want to have to deal with him. She seems incapable of understanding that I am not responsible for her daughter’s expenses. Or am I wrong?

Ah, there it is! Guilt so large you can lose yourself in it. But you haven’t done anything wrong, so why feel guilty? I’m sure that you care for your girlfriend’s daughter, and want the best for her. You’ve probably even stepped in to be the father she needed at home. Refusing to bankroll your girlfriend’s promises to her daughter seems reasonable, unless you owe her money and haven’t paid. If that’s the case, pay her back.

So why does your girlfriend conjure such big dreams? At some level you probably sense that your girlfriend believes this child is her last hope. Parents often judge themselves, and each other, on the basis of their children’s success. Your girlfriend may blame herself for the struggles of her two older children. Maybe they watched the disintegration of their parents’ relationship without the therapeutic help necessary to navigate that pain. When unresolved emotional wounds fester, irrational choices and chaos feels normal. That’s probably why your girlfriend’s two oldest are in crisis. I hope that you will advocate for those two young adults. They need a network of support to turn their lives around.

Clearly, your girlfriend wants her youngest daughter to choose another path. The perks that accompany an elite adolescence are not enough to inspire a teen to make good choices. But teaching a teen to earn and save money toward goals would be smarter. And since you already know how to nurture resilient, independent young adults, you are the ideal person to pitch in. In other words: Your advice, guidance and wisdom? Priceless.

I graduated from college last year but cannot find anybody willing to hire a fresh graduate. Living at home is suffocating. My parents think I’m lazy just because I don’t rise at 6 a.m. I know I’m not the only college graduate who is facing this hardship. The other thing is that high school and college were so stressful academically that I just want to slow down my life for a while and take care of myself. How can I get my parents see that it’s not my fault no one will hire me?

Actually, let’s sharpen your lens: the companies you applied to have not hired you. Isn’t that a more accurate statement? Now let’s tackle the problem. In order to be hired, you must build your resume. To build your resume, you need skills that are not often learned in university courses. So apply for an internship (yes, even an unpaid one) or volunteer in the community to gain the specific skills you need for the jobs you desire. But wait until your resistance to work is over. That’s right, you’re burned out. Pick a reasonable time period (21 days?) to rest fully without worrying about a job. When the deadline is up, search relentlessly until you are hired.

Meditation of the week
“The end of all education should surely be service to others,” said Cesar Chavez. Have you graduated yet?

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