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Benefits Of Taking Risks: My Son Asking For A Pay Raise

Hard Work And Confidence Pays Off

My son, Zachary, now a high school senior, has been working since he was 16. He started out working for a hardware store and is now a busboy and cook at a burger joint. He was very interested in making his own coin and experiencing the work world.

Initially, we sat down and talked about the best way to job hunt. I was so pleased with his efforts. He wrote out all the potential work places within a two-mile radius from our home. Then he called every place on the list and asked if they were hiring. With a revised list in hand, we drove to each place so he could hop in, meet the manager and get an application. About one week after he returned the apps, he made follow-up calls. This part impressed me the most. I can tell you with great certainty that I did not have that kind of assertiveness at 16.

My son is always doing things that make me stand a little prouder as his mom. Prime example: one day he casually said, “Mom, did I tell you I asked for a raise?” Uh, no, I would have remembered that. He based this decision on three factors:  he had been at the restaurant for 18 months, he never called in sick and he did what was asked of him the first time. (Sidebar: I almost bit my tongue over this one; I can count on one hand how many times he’s practiced that discipline at home!)

My Son Knows How To Handle Himself

He came home furious one night and wouldn’t talk about it until the next day. Apparently his boss was not making progress on getting the raise request approved by the head manager and it had been six weeks. I asked my son if he wanted my advice and he declined, but I did manage to guide the conversation to a way that allowed me to impart some well-earned wisdom. In the end, I found the best answer just came to me in a flash. I told him, “Son, you have an impressive work ethic and you are a bright person. And I know you will figure out the best way to handle this and you will do it in a fair and responsible manner.” There was relief on his face as he thanked me.

I am going to brag here—I’m pretty proud of my response. It wasn’t too long ago that I would have worried and fretted right along side of him. But recently I stumbled on a quote that really changed my viewpoint. Psychologist Haim Ginot said, “Treat your children as though they are already the people you want them to be.” Wow! This is the kind of big-picture parenting that I’ve searching for. It just makes such sense.

I had been moving along, year after year, using the same parenting practices I always had and I had failed to notice that as the kids got older, they needed a different approach. Luckily, I have learned to back up and back off while I hone my habits and go-to parenting methods.

As for Zachary, he got the raise – his first of hopefully many, many more career successes. And each time, I will be there to tell him how proud I am.

Renee Brown

Renee Brown lives in Minneapolis with her two tall sons—Sam, 20, and Zachary, 18—and three obstinate felines. She is a senior account executive working in advertising and an avid reader, wine drinker, creative writer, and yoga enthusiast.

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