Uh oh! Looks like you took the bait and encouraged your kid to follow their dreams. Now that there’s a Class of 2020 sign in your front yard and a plea for help on their LinkedIn, you’re starting to wonder if you should’ve nudged them towards medicine, or hunting-gathering.
What’s a concerned parent to do? If your munchkin is starting their adult life in a world where the only thing in more danger than their lungs is their part-time gig as an editorial assistant, read on!
Acknowledge Their Accomplishments
No graduation? No problem! Just because “Attended a Party” could be a cause-of-death right now doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate. Try decorating a loaf of sourdough like a cake, or presenting your recent grad with a dummy diploma. It may be made out of the menu that came stapled to the take-out they ordered to maintain the illusion of independence from you and your jarring insistence on actually sitting at a table to eat, but hey, that means it’s worth about as much as the real thing!
In general, and especially after that diploma joke, your child may be experiencing feelings of anger, frustration, and sadness. This is totally normal, and good practice for the shit-storm awaiting them and their Bachelor of Fine Arts.
Tell them that you understand where they’re coming from, because your last semester was such a significant moment in your life, and really, one of the last times so many of your friends were all together in the same place, because after college, that just doesn’t happen anymore, so it is essential to spend those final weeks on campus bonding with them before your paths diverge, most likely permanently.
Showing them treasured photos of your own graduation, and especially posting them online with long reflections about you and your feelings, will do a lot to reassure your graduate that you get it.
Help With Career Planning
Be sure to start every sentence with, “I don’t know much about your industry, but…” followed by an anecdote about how your mother’s cousin’s friend’s conjoined twin got a writing job at The Daily Show during the Great Depression through the sheer force of hustle.
When they express concern that entertainment and media are built on a workforce of underpaid entry-level employees who literally cannot survive in New York City or Los Angeles without significant financial help from their parents, shutting out diverse young talent who can’t afford to work for nothing but exposure and cold brew on tap, offer to show their resume to your boss. He’s not hiring, but he is a savvy businessman!
Point Out That This Too Will Pass
Unlike their student loans, this pandemic won’t last forever.
Of course, it’ll last for a really, really, really long time, and the economic downturn will affect their career prospects for years to come, and newspapers will soon start publishing op-eds about how we could’ve had a vaccine sooner if all these kids hadn’t spent so much time catfishing Trump on TikTok.
But don’t bring any of that up if you’re trying to reassure them. In fact, maybe give them some space. They just learned that the Arctic is on fire and they need a minute.
Drink With Them
When all else fails, embrace their newfound adulthood and teach them what their professors never could: The machine of Life runs on coping mechanisms.
Be careful, though! They’ll try to radicalize you by your second cocktail. Just remember that their desire to consume the still-beating hearts of the rich doesn’t come from a genuine disillusionment with capitalism. They’re probably just hungry for something other than sourdough cake!