Advice Column Question for Waitress (Not Just Any Waitress)
Advice by Marilyn Heins, M.D. : Parenting Give wayward waitress direction and cut off material support to her
Advice by Marilyn Heins, M.D.
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 09.17.2006
Q My 18-year-old granddaughter who just graduated from high school has recently gone to work in an all-nude bar as a waitress.
I am well aware that these places get the girls in the door with the lure of "big money." I understand that the dancing girls then "work" on the waitresses to earn even bigger money by becoming a dancer. Her hours are 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.!
Everybody in the family has voiced grave concern, but she refuses to listen and won't quit, even after money was offered to bail her out of her car loan.
A This is a tough problem and a difficult question to answer.
Your granddaughter is legally an adult, and "I can do what I want now" is no doubt her mantra. She should be heading for college or another way to learn how to support herself — which means health insurance and retirement benefits, not just enough money to make car payments and keep her in lattes.
The three tasks of adolescence are to learn how to support oneself, emancipate from the family of origin and find a life partner. Even though adolescence in our culture is very prolonged compared with that of a primitive society, the human brain is not completely developed for abstract thinking until age 25. So if family members say, "She's not thinking straight," they are right.
But you cannot stop her. There are few options for a caring family with a legally of age child who is on a wrong path.
You can cut off all contact.
I know there is one school of thought that holds the family should cut her off completely because what she is doing does not fit with its values. I disagree. My suggestions are to maintain contact while quietly pointing out your disapproval: "We love you, but we hate what you're doing."
Another option is to cut off all material support. If she lives at home, tell her to move out. Do not give her any money. The message again is: "We love you, but we cannot support what you're doing."
Speaking of material things, I would not have offered to pay off her car loan. If she cannot "support" her car, including payments and insurance, she will have to take the bus. I don't know what city your granddaughter lives in, but few towns have all-night bus service.
Waitressing is hard work. Going and coming home from work at these ungodly hours can not only be dangerous but can also keep her from being with friends who have normal hours. Keep hoping your granddaughter realizes this and finds another job.
The third option for a family is to do nothing or to grumble and nag, which amounts to the same thing in ineffectiveness.
I am saddened by the fact that so many of our youths graduate from high school without any plans for the future. There is a reason the words "graduation" and "commencement" are used synonymously. Graduation from high school is just the beginning. The ones who do not enter college have to work even harder on the planning process than the ones bound for college.
Saying "I'll find a job" isn't enough. That job must provide a basis for personal and financial growth. It should be a steppingstone to a better life than one can expect from the usual jobs available to teenagers.