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My Friend Is On Welfare

Two high school ladies I know recently told me about a problem they’re having with another friend. For clarity, I’ll call the friend Julia. Julia’s family is on some government program (I’m not sure which program, because it’s not welfare or disability) that sends Julia $800 a month to spend on whatever she wants. Julia is 17. So without working, Julia spends her neighbor’s tax dollars treating herself to Olive Garden dinners, makeovers and whatever else she happens to feel like buying at the time. Her parents also get government money, but this $800 goes straight to Julia. This presents a moral dilemma to my two young friends, who want to love Julia but think this behavior is destructive both to Julia and the community. Julia has no disability. She could and should work for her pocket money. Here was my advice to my two young friends, and I wanted to see what V&C readers think or want to add. Loving someone means you help them become a better person. It does not mean you overlook behavior that hurts other people and breaks biblical principles such as “he who does not work should not eat.” So you should talk to Julia about this situation, not to condemn her, but to empower Julia so she sees herself as able to support herself and contribute to the world. How soon can she get a job? Any job. She’s a high schooler. Working at Target or weeding lawns for people is appropriate work for her age, or for anyone who needs work. If she has a hard time finding a job, why is that? Most entry-level employers look for soft skills like friendliness, looking people in the eye when you speak and answering the telephone professionally. You can help her practice all of these things and help her look for job opportunities. And what are Julia’s long-term life goals? College? It’s past time to make sure she can do college-level work. Does she want to marry? She should start thinking about the kind of wife a young man would want to marry. Children and marriage are hard work, and if she’s not demonstrating she’s willing to work hard, it’s time to start changing. Learning to present yourself attractively and be kind to people can also take some thought and practice, and the time to start is now. Friends and family are not loving others by accommodating laziness and the self-importance that turns down a “non-prestigious” job. That creates a culture where immoral behavior is “okay.” I think reversing that culture gently, bit by bit, and with respect for the truth that we all are sinners, must start now, and with us. What do you think?