DEAR KELLY: My dad’s friend opened a new ice cream/yogurt shop last year and my dad asked him if he would give me a job, even though I never said I wanted one.
My dad kept bragging and saying things like, “Thank me later when you get your paycheck” and annoying things like I was supposed to be happy that I had to work. I knew the owner had cameras in the shop, but I thought it was more for like if someone stole something or broke in. Last week he fired me because he said the cameras showed me “always on my cellphone” and that I didn’t do my work because I was too busy looking at my phone or texting on it.
I haven’t told my dad yet and I don’t know if his friend has called and told him yet. I left both nights this week when I should have worked and went to my boyfriend’s house and when I came home my dad was already asleep, so I didn’t (technically) lie to him. I don’t know how to tell him without him freaking out and threatening to take away my phone or my car.
I feel bad and I know he’s going to be disappointed, but now I’m afraid of him overreacting. My friends told me to get a new job, then tell him I got a different job so at least he doesn’t think I’m lazy or something. I don’t know what to do. I didn’t ask for the job in the first place and I would rather not have one, but my parents are insisting I have it. Since they bought my car, they hold that against me. It is seriously so annoying that they always use the car against me anytime I don’t do what they want.
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Any advice on what to do? I know my dad will be mad. but is there anyways I can make it better?
DEAR LO: Start by being honest. Stop trying to figure out a way to go around having to tell the truth and be honest with your dad. The sooner you tell him, the better. The longer you continue the lie or make him think you are going to work when you are just hanging out at your boyfriend’s house, the more deceived and disrespected he is going to be.
Getting fired isn’t something most parents take lightly, even worse if it was their friend who hired you as a favor to them. You need to tell them before he tells them. Think of how bad that would look it they were surprised when he told them he had fired you. This would lead to more than embarrassment, my guess is they would be furious for not knowing and feel completely tricked by you. Stop worrying about losing your car or your phone and focus on losing your parents’ trust or belief in what you tell them.
Let’s face it, lying seems easy in the moment. But the reality is that it paints you out to seem sketchy, shady and sneaky. Are those words you want used to describe you? In the long run, the best thing to do is to be straightforward, upfront and tell the truth. The odds are they will be less likely to blow a gasket if you come clean in the moment rather than come across like you have been consciously hiding something and being sneaky. They are more likely to see it as a teaching moment or a time to change your work ethics or learn what not to do on the job for next time. If they feel you were hiding the truth and not coming clean, the issue could become more about the lying and deceit and less about the job.
We all make mistakes. What did you learn? Perhaps you aren’t even aware (most teens aren’t!) about how much time you spend looking at your phone. Or how you neglected your job in favor of being on social media or checking in with your friends. The next time you get a job, leave your phone in your purse or turn it off so you aren’t tempted to go to it every time you have a spare moment at work. Most bosses would tell you there is always something to clean or something to do while you are working, so there should not be a lot of phone time if you are on the clock at work. The next time you get a job, focus on what you need to do and what the customers need more than you focus on your friends or your phone.
One final point: If your parents bought the car and pay for the car and the insurance on the car, they own the car. Driving their car is a privilege, not a right. They can withhold the car or take the car away at any time. It’s their car. Technically speaking, you are just renting the car. If getting a job is part of having a car, make a choice. If you don’t want to have a job, do the respectful thing and hand over the keys. Instead of seeing the job as a burden, see the car as a blessing. Be grateful rather than entitled.
Stop digging yourself into a deeper hole. Come clean. Honestly, you will probably feel much better once everything is out and you aren’t having to lie or sneak around anymore. Accept your consequences and learn from this. The sooner you learn to be truthful with your parents, the sooner you can start to earn their trust back.
Kelly Richardson, a Folsom therapist, works with adolescents.