When your 22-year old shows back up (or “How To Spin Your Wheels in Safety)


The knock on the front door is light at first and almost tentative. Upon opening the door, you see him. Your son, standing on your porch with a sad face and a large duffel bag.

He’s back.

And whether it’s that he can’t find a job, left college early, had four jobs in the past two months and can’t find his purpose, or he finished college and quickly found the undergraduate degree in history largely unappealing to employers paying above minimum wage, he’s once again spending the night under your roof.

Your feelings may go from being happy to see him, to a bit sad, to somewhat disappointed, to maybe even feeling some angst about the future.

It’s also how most EHS programs run. We spend a majority of our time putting out fires, brainstorming ways of redirecting ingrained habits and behaviors of 22-year olds (and older), searching for injury causes that we know began with learned behaviors years ago, and feeling angst about the future.

Financial author Emily Guy Birken writes on the subject of parenting and money habits. She says that if you want to teach your kids about entitlement, give in to their tantrums. If you want your children to spend money quickly and develop a scarcity mindset, tell them “we can’t afford that”, instead of teaching them to prioritize spending. If you want your son or daughter to rely on your paycheck, solve every problem for them instead of letting them be disappointed. And finally, if you want them to see work as a chore, then let them hear you complain about your job every week, dreading Mondays and celebrating Fridays, instead of celebrating purposeful work with a spirit of gratitude.

What does financial advice to young children have to do with EHS? Everything.

What are your newest employees learning right now? What are they learning in the first week, month, and year on the job about acceptable behaviors, attitudes and safe practices in your organization? Is the experience and training purposeful, reliable, and does it encourage and filter the best in the worker…or do they just “figure it out?”

How do we as a profession spend less time redirecting the person on the porch and more energy and attention in molding the future?


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