Dear June, What should I do about my restless son?
By June O'Connor
I read all your advice and opinions in the Catholic Digest. I strongly agree with most of them and now I wonder if you can help me with my very serious problem.
My 41-year-old son has been successful as an elementary school teacher. He has loved teaching and his pupils like and respect him. But after five years he gave it up because, in his words, “I got bored.” His recently deceased father, a brilliant college professor, had the same problem: He always seemed to become easily bored. My son was in the Armed Forces and enjoyed it, but left after five years due to boredom. Perhaps “restlessness” is a better word.
My son will be married this year. He is excited about this, seems to love his fiancée very much, and he does love children. He assures me that his experience of boredom only pertains to the jobs he has held and he says he doesn’t know why he gets bored. But I remain mystified and worried. How can we help him?
I wonder if your son’s ability to tolerate boredom might improve as his responsibilities to his wife, home, and potential children become more real to him. As a single man, he was free to follow his feelings, but with family responsibilities, a sense of obligation may mute some of those feelings or at least move him to give them secondary status. (We all have feelings; we can choose not to act on them.)
The differences in personality inclinations and the multiple motivations that move people to do this or that are remarkable. Since your son is 41 years of age and since you recognize that his father had a similar experience of life, one can only wonder if you can “help” him with this at all. Only he can change his choices, and, as I mention above, those choices may well change in the face of new and heavier responsibilities.
Since you are suffering, observing your son’s employment pattern, it may be helpful for you to see the positive dimensions of what you label a “serious problem.” His changes in jobs do show a positive feature, namely resourcefulness. Notice that your son has enjoyed diverse lines of work and has apparently done each type of job adequately or better. This suggests that he is capable of investing in, and contributing to, more than one line of work, even if only for a time.
Although some people have a deep need for continuity and security (or they simply find a job they love and stay with it), others, like your son, apparently, have a deeper need for variety and sense of adventure at work. They change jobs to keep things new and fresh. That desire for novelty may never change.
At this point, for your own peace of mind and heart, I think you are wise simply to observe his choices with a sense of wonder, noticing once again the mystery of personality. This is not your problem. His wife will handle it in her own way. CD
Quote: "His changes in jobs do show a positive feature, namely resourcefulness."