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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I need help explaining a situation to my son. A friend of

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I need help explaining a situation to my son. A friend of his & his dad work at our local airport - the dad got the job for his son. That boy, Jimmy, has told our son, Cal, that his dad can also get him a job there. Our son, Cal, lost his job so he is excited and anxious. However. It has been a while now, and the friend has not introduced our son to his dad nor has their been any communication from the dad about recommending our son for any job. What there has been is excited conversations about it between both boys, about requirements, etc etc and this friend, Jimmy, wants our son to call & text him all the time about this job, nevertheless.
My take is that there is no job, that the dad has no idea about it at all, and that for some reason Jimmy is just dangling a job in front of our son's psyche like the proverbial carrot being dangled in front of the donkey to get him to move. I think Jimmy, the friend, is just blowing smoke about this to our son. I told our son what I think, that by now if he were on the level that he would have already talked with the dad and been sent to fill an application. I also said something like it's time to make Jimmy either produce or shut up.
My son, Cal got very indignant about it, upset and telling me that I am always being so negative about everything. Actually, I would say, 'realistic'. I don't like to see anybody leading anybody on like this, and that's what I believe it to be. I was cautioning our son, Cal, not to jump through too many hoops or Jimmy about this, and not be on the phone to him all the time to '' talk over job info'' because, that is simply, a game and our son is being played.
This Jimmy is a nice kid, I am told, and has been a friend to our son for a while now. but the situation is what it is. Can you help me out here ? What motivates a boy like Jimmy to do what he is doing ?
I know this stuff goes on every day, I've seen it all my life, but I never was naive enough to get suckered into anything.
What does this Jimmy gain from doing this and leading our son on, thinking that he may get a job at the airport also ?

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

It sounds like your son's friend is telling him about this job because he either thinks there really is a job (it could be that his father is leading him on and this is not Jimmy's doing) or he likes the excitement and attention he is getting from your son and does not want to give it up by telling him there really is not a job. He may also be afraid he would lose his friendship, especially at this point.

It could also be that Jimmy is being purposely mean and spiteful, but this does not sound like the case from your description of him.

Your son may also be caught up in the excitement of the situation and not be experienced enough to know what is going on. You telling him your insight probably just made him feel defensive, particularly common with young adults. At that age, young adults feel they are wise and know what is good for them.

This may be a case of allowing your son to learn a lesson. It is hard and very difficult to watch, especially since you can see what is happening, but by letting him get hurt in this situation, you allow him an experience he will not likely forget. If he just listens to your advice, he may be more willing to get caught up in a similar situation in the future. But if he sees this situation play through, it will not likely happen again.

You can also suggest to him that while he waits for his friend's job to come through, he could look for other work as well. That way, if this job does not work out (at no fault of his friend's) then he will have something else lined up. He may consider your advice if he does not see it as a must do, but a suggestion instead.

I hope this helps you,

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I guess the key words here are excitement & attention.
Our son, Cal, is already looking for another job, but has his hopes up for this airport job with his pal, Jimmy. It is amazing to me that Cal doesn't see that it would already have happened, if it was going to happen at all. My bet is that the dad knows absolutely nothing about this. Experience blows the fog away. If we can't share this with our kids, what good is it then? My questions really were What this Jimmy is getting out of stringing our son along , like having him dance on a chain choke ? What to say to our son to blow his fog away ?
He already plans to just let this play out how it does and now truthfully, he is forewarned also. I think he already had a very good idea on his own that it's just talk on his friend's part but doesn't want to acknowledge it. What motivates anybody to do something like this ? I've seen it before, many times over. What goes through my mind is, if Jimmy is saying to him self what a jerk our son is to swallow this or if he just doesn't know how to get out of it - my money is that the dad never is even approached about getting a job for our son.
It is difficult to watch, to see him talk with his hopes up, talking about the job Jimmy is now doing, but at the same time, not trying to find out who to apply to for it himself, makes me think of PInnochio and the Fox who led the boys to Pleasure Island and turned them into donkeys. A bit extreme but you get the idea. Being manipulated.

People have the ability to deny what they actually see in front of their face. That may be the case here with your son. He doesn't want to face that this could be nothing more than a pipe dream. It is hard to tell without talking to him directly what exactly he is seeing in this situation, but that would be my guess based on what you said.

It is also hard to tell what Jimmy is getting out of the situation without talking to him face to face, but it is probably what I mentioned above. He either is directly and purposely being mean (which means there is something going on with him mental health wise) or he truly believes that this job could be a reality. He could also be caught up in the situation and not see a good way out for himself.

It is good to share your experience with your kids. But the kids have to be willing to accept the experience and include in into their lives. It is much like the saying you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink. You can show your son the error of his ways, but unless he sees it as well, he can choose to ignore it.

I know it hurts you to see your son manipulated. That may be a good focus for you since your son is not willing to hear you about this. Talk to others about how this hurts you and if you feel the need, see a therapist for a short while, or someone like a pastor. They may be able to help you come to terms with how you feel about it.


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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Interesting to me that you feel that I am hurt - actually it makes me very angry with our son for not being smarter and for allowing this to go on. He should know much better, since we did teach him not to mention his own experiences. What I would like to see is for our son to tell Jimmy, something like, ''Ok, there Jimmy old pal, if you are serious then let me talk with your dad and get an application in. If not, then stop talking to me about it. '' I am disappointed in our son for allowing himself to be dangled like this.
I just remembered another son of mine, quite grown and in his 40's who also let himself be led by the nose for some time on the promise of a possibility of some great job or business deal. I took one smell of it and told him to get out - that he'd never get the money they supposedly owed him and there was no deal nor about to be one. He also got defensive, (at 40 ? ) and wasted another 6 months or more, don't remember, until finally there it was. My son had kissed the feet of this man to no avail, and again once with a woman, same thing , different facts.
What I am hearing from myself is that I dislike seeing anybody being taken advantage of. Normally I have been able to fend for myself, very well, but I have seen so many who could not. I'm not happy for my sons to see that they seem to be lost in illusions rather than based in reality. A wise person knows that life is too short to make all your own mistakes, that we all need to heed the good advice given to us, when it is, and when there is anybody who cares enough to bother to give it. I have had other children go far afield and get stuck into horrible, trapped lives of poverty and problems (those go hand in hand). I am thinking out loud.
I want this son, Cal, to call his friend Jimmy on this, ask to talk with his dad, or give him the company and contact information so he can go to apply and use them as his recommendation. Now. If I tell him this, he is going to most likely react in a negative way, so I haven't said anything more.
I am way too old for a therapist - I spent 37 years with Pan Am World Airways, seeing a shrink off and on much of the time, and when other crappy stuff came along, and 20 years with an association with a child psychiatrist who was the doctor for the 5 kids we adopted 22 years ago. Yes, Cal is one of them. No, my other son in his 40's is not, he is my natural born.
I have come to the conclusion that I should speak with Cal again, tell him to put it to his friend that he would like to speak with his dad to verify the job and recommendation. Otherwise, he needs to put his mental and emotional energy towards another direction. They have been friends for a long time, years, though not so close all the time, so friendship here is not at risk, I think. I appreciate our time and answer.