How do I make my cowardly son understand that no job is perfect? | Family

My son is 30 years old and is a lawyer. He is ambitious and enthusiastic, but he is now in his fourth job, and already wants to leave after only a few months.

When he starts a new job he is usually happy, but before long he realizes that there is a gap between the job description and the reality, and wants to go out because he feels like he’s wasting his time. He says the problems he is having are poor management and poor organization.

Although I think that whenever he has good reason to quit, I try to suggest that there could be something in him – his expectations, his choices – which could explain that “diagram”.

In his current job, he doesn’t appreciate the constant rewriting of his contracts by his young supervisor, mainly for minor grammatical details. He admits that she doesn’t harass him neither ill-intentioned.

Her older sister (also a lawyer) sees nothing wrong with her boss’s behavior. My son rejects her help and thinks she is too “submissive”.

I told him recently that he can’t have it all. That it could never be perfect, like in a relationship.

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I would have loved to know what your son looked like when he was young. Could he take the criticism? How was he with authority? He seems to have a hard time seeing other people’s point of view or thinking he’s never wrong.

My specialist this week, psychotherapist Chris Mills, thought you sounded really reasonable. You could see that there was a problem, but you realized that it could be due to your son’s attitude. “In a way,” said Mills, “your son fights by admitting he has a problem, so he’s literally doing the problem on anyone else.”

What can this problem be? “Despite everything your son does brilliantly, he can’t understand that he can’t get along with other people; if he could just admit it, it would transform his relationships and his professional life would be more bearable. People around him seem to see him, but he doesn’t.

“It reminds me of the students I used to work with who never failed at anything and that made them incredibly fragile,” says Mills. “Failure, which is quite ordinary, becomes terrifying for those who are not used to it. Sometimes people who are super smart find it incredibly difficult to adjust to the mundane, which is full of people who are wrong and disagree with you. Mills further emphasized that success in everyday life is “being able to cope with this failure and not expecting life to be orderly or linear.”

We also thought it was interesting for him to come and talk to you. Mills thought it sounded slightly immature – that your son felt like only his mother really understood him.

I think you are doing all the right things by bringing a little banality to his complaints and asking him to examine his own role in things. I know people like this: they quit work after work (or relationship, an interesting parallel you drew there), never looking at the common thread in it all: themselves.

We learn from our failures and they help us develop. Acknowledging our failures is a strength, but only if we can see them as our failures, and not attribute them to others.

Each week, Annalisa Barbieri discusses a family problem sent by a reader. If you would like some advice from Annalisa on a family matter, please send your issue to [email protected] Annalisa regrets not being able to enter into personal correspondence. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-termes.

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