losing patience with my 15 y/o son - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 01-31-2011, 05:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Life with my 15 DS seems likes a constant struggle/battle. I cannot seem to figure out how to get him motivated to do ANYTHING! He is in 9th grade and his grades are not good (mainly C's and D's). He will not do his very simple chores without someone prompting him at every move. He won't feed (or makes a huge deal about feeding) the animals that he so badly wanted. He won't wash his clothes or simple bring them to the laundry room for me to wash. He'll just wear them dirty! These are just a few good examples.

 

I have tried everything I know to do. I have taken away things (cell phone, computer privledges, friend visiting priviledges), offered money in exchange for a job well done without prompting, talked to him like an adult, yelled......you name it. I desperately want him to have a sense of responsibilty/initiative by the time he reaches adulthood. What can I do.....or what am I doing wrong?

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#2 of 19 Old 02-02-2011, 02:27 PM
 
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What does he do rather than these other things?  Does he participate with the family?  Could he be depressed?


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#3 of 19 Old 02-02-2011, 08:52 PM
 
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I'd let the clothes go.  If he wants to wear dirty clothes then he can wear dirty clothes.  When he gets tired of stinking he'll either wash them or bring them to the laundry room.

 

If he wanted the animals & won't care for them can you give them away?

 

Some things(like cleaning clothes, doing chores, etc) people don't learn until they are living on their own & have no choice but to do it.  So I'd get rid of as many of those things as you can that makes your life easier(ie the clothes & animals as mentioned above).  For other things like cleaning a room, dishes, whatever his other chores are then you can have those as your battle & let go of the smaller things.

 

Are his grades bad becuase he isn't trying, handing in work, or what?

 

Does he say why he won't do these things?

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#4 of 19 Old 02-03-2011, 06:25 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mamatoni View Post 
Could he be depressed?


This is my first thought, too.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#5 of 19 Old 02-03-2011, 02:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies! I don't think he's depressed, although I wouldn't rule anything out. It's not like he's holed up in his room and won't come out to do chores. He just avoids until I finally make him get started and then he finds any number of other things to do. Example: while loading the dishwasher he may walk into the living room to watch tv, pop his siblings with the dishtowel, camp in the bathrooom for 15 min, make a snack.....you get the idea. He does anything but actually accomplishing the task.

 

Re:his grades, he is a smart child and has done very well until last year. He does fine on the tests and classwork but fails to turn in homework or other assignments, which drops his grades terribly. In my opinion, it's just laziness/lack of motivation and I don't know how to fix it!

 

I just get so sick of fighting the daily battles. He knows what he is expected to do. His chores have been the same for 3 yrs, he knows I expect him to bring up laundry or do it himself.....he just won't do these things without constant prodding. He's my first teenager so it's entirely possible that this is just normal and if it is I suppose I will just have to deal with it. I'm just afraid if doesn't learn to do these things now that he will struggle later in life at a job, college, or just life in general.

 

Oh, and one more tidbit. He turned 15 in Nov and I told him months ahead that if he would read over the driver's manual, I would take him to get his permit on his birthday. He has STILL not read the manual nor taken the test. This lack of motivatin baffles me!

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#6 of 19 Old 02-03-2011, 03:06 PM
 
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What is his motivation?

 

Like, does he have a college/life path/career in mind?  Does he need to drive or will you still always drive him around (my dad paid for my lessons and test, in the UK so might be a bit different, and was willing to lend me his car once i passed the test but he sure didn't offer lifts anymore).  If he doesn't bring his clothes do you go get and wash them?  Maybe he would do these things if forced.  I would rehome the animals, let him dress in stinky clothes but for example not have him at the dinner table if he's so stinky it's off-putting.  Just tell him politely he can eat with you when he's taken care of his basic hygiene, that sort of thing.  I'm sure if his girlfriend complained about his personal odours etc. he'd be in the shower 3 times a day - he probably just needs his own motivations for such things.

 

I think some people have "drive" and some people just don't.  They are happy to drift along, letting life happen and enjoying the ride.  If he's like that i don't think it can be "fixed" or needs to be, y/k?  OTOH i also think teenage years are ones of experimentation and exploration of the world and its rules.  What will happen if you DON'T do as you're asked, etc.

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#7 of 19 Old 02-03-2011, 03:16 PM
 
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Originally Posted by GoBecGo View Post

I think some people have "drive" and some people just don't.  They are happy to drift along, letting life happen and enjoying the ride.  If he's like that i don't think it can be "fixed" or needs to be, y/k? 


This.

 

DH has a brother that is JUST LIKE THIS! He recently turned 18, waited until the very last minute to apply for college, just recently got his first job, and barely helps out around the house. He's a really smart kid. He just doesn't CARE. There's nothing anyone can say or do to change him. Some people are just like that...and sometimes it doesn't click that things have to change until, you guessed it, the last second.


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#8 of 19 Old 02-03-2011, 04:28 PM
 
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Originally Posted by bhawkins View Post

I just get so sick of fighting the daily battles. He knows what he is expected to do. His chores have been the same for 3 yrs, he knows I expect him to bring up laundry or do it himself.....he just won't do these things without constant prodding.


 

have you tried some real consequences and dropping the prodding? You guys have just playing out the same pattern every day. It's driving you nuts and it isn't helpful for him to learn independence (which is what he really should be working on at this stage).

 

I'm wondering if there is a way to change the dynamic.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#9 of 19 Old 02-03-2011, 05:13 PM
 
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My mother never prodded.

 

She asked "can you do the dishes please".

 

She reminded "the dishes need doing".

 

She put the dishes in your bed under the sheets.

 

All right, that's probably extreme!  LOL,  But she was extreme at times.  But she never prodded, she just moved whatever it was you'd not done into YOUR space and out of the family space, until you dealt with it.  When asked, we DID the dishes.

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#10 of 19 Old 02-03-2011, 05:33 PM
 
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I guess I wouldn't be so concerned that my teen didn't feel the need to do dishes or laundry. I would certainly want to know what he was "holed up in his room" doing though. If his laundry got to stinking too badly I guess I'd have no choice but to throw it out with the garbage. And if he didn't help with the dishes then he might not have clean dishes to eat dinner off of. And if he isn't able to pitch in to maintain household functioning then he won't be able to enjoy benefits of things like cell phones. I'm not all that excited for my 15 year olds to start driving so I'm cool woth it that they haven't been motivated to read their manuals. Animal cruelty though would likely land them in some serious volunteer work at my house though.

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#11 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 08:41 AM
 
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I think that sounds like a typical 15 year old boy LOL!

 

I remember being 15, it's a scuzzy age.  If he wants to wear dirty clothes, let him wear them.  Eventually someone will make fun of him stinking and he'll suddenly be Mr. Sauve with his pressed shirts and cologne.

 

As far as helping around the house, he probably doesn't have a job, so you could either set a monetary reward for helping (not that I'm an allowance fan, but if it's worth it to you) or start pulling priviledges- video games, phones, grounding, etc.

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#12 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 08:47 AM
 
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I have a 15 yo with some serious chore avoidance issues.  He is in charge of his clothes and has been for at least two years.  He did go through a few stinky weeks/months at first trying to see what happened if ge didn't do his laundry.  What happened is his friends started making fun of him.  Now he still does sometimes wear dirty stuff because he forgets to wash but overall he keeps his stuff clean. 

 

As for chores, we ended up sitting down at the table and talking to him about what his issue was with them and how we could work together so that we all didn't feel so frustrated.  We decided that he could do his chores super late at night most of the time but that on special occasions we would ask him to do them earlier if need be.  My son's big thing was he wanted to be asked nicely, not told.  Our big thing was that after three + years of having the same chore, he should just do it every day without asking. 

 

My son is super smart too and honestly doesn't have much ambition school wise but keeps his grades up because he is really into sports.  That motivates him.  Still the transition from middle school to high school is tough, school wise.  I can't count the number of kids from my son's class who have flunked out of his honors/IB program. 

 

He also really wants to learn to drive because I told him that once he is 16 and able to drive, he won't be getting a ton of rides from us.  He will be responsible for most of his transportation and our city transit system is not good.  His school is about 5 miles away so he technically could bike there but it wouldn't be fun to bike home after workouts.  Not to sound cold but I've seen a lot of teens not wanting to learn to drive lately and I don't want to be driving him around when he is 18.  He needs to learn good driving practices while there are still some constraints (our state has a lot of rules about when and how 16 years can drive).

 

Is your son involved in any afterschool activities?  What are his interests?  I think if it was my son, I would be wondering how I could help him learn what motivates him.

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#13 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 07:38 PM
 
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Hi! I just posted about my 15 y/o DS. I have no idea what to do, as my DS is exactly the same! I was just yelling to him today, that I just want him to feel passionate about SOMETHING. His swimming, his grades, volunteering, SOMETHING! I guess it is a phase, but I wish it would end SOON! I swear kids are easier when they are toddlers!

 

I will pass this little thing a friend with 5 kids shared: She said that her DD (Now in college) came home during Christmas break and asked her parents, why they did not force her to participate in more activities. Why did they allow her to decide to quit? Her parents were, like, "Well you wanted to not do them and we did not feel like arguing." DD said, "Well you should have." HMMM Now this particular girl was VERY bright and I am not sure if my DS would ever realize that his parents were right.

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#14 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 08:07 PM
 
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What are his interests? Is he in sports, does he play an instrument, is he into computers? I would try to expand on one of his interests and find some extracurricular activities.
I'm sure you've already made him aware that his high school GPA starts in 9th grade. I would find out what he is interested in after high school, and then go from there. If he wants a career that requires a college degree, he needs to be aware of the GPA, class rank, and test scores to get into college.

The driver's ed. thing must be common, because my dd did the same thing. 

 

 

 

 

Originally Posted by bhawkins View Post

Thanks for the replies! I don't think he's depressed, although I wouldn't rule anything out. It's not like he's holed up in his room and won't come out to do chores. He just avoids until I finally make him get started and then he finds any number of other things to do. Example: while loading the dishwasher he may walk into the living room to watch tv, pop his siblings with the dishtowel, camp in the bathrooom for 15 min, make a snack.....you get the idea. He does anything but actually accomplishing the task.

 

Re:his grades, he is a smart child and has done very well until last year. He does fine on the tests and classwork but fails to turn in homework or other assignments, which drops his grades terribly. In my opinion, it's just laziness/lack of motivation and I don't know how to fix it!

 

I just get so sick of fighting the daily battles. He knows what he is expected to do. His chores have been the same for 3 yrs, he knows I expect him to bring up laundry or do it himself.....he just won't do these things without constant prodding. He's my first teenager so it's entirely possible that this is just normal and if it is I suppose I will just have to deal with it. I'm just afraid if doesn't learn to do these things now that he will struggle later in life at a job, college, or just life in general.

 

Oh, and one more tidbit. He turned 15 in Nov and I told him months ahead that if he would read over the driver's manual, I would take him to get his permit on his birthday. He has STILL not read the manual nor taken the test. This lack of motivatin baffles me!

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#15 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 08:20 PM
 
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Has he been tested for ADD inattentive type?  Does he express WANTING to do better at getting things done and in school?  He sounds a LOT like me with the poor grades but being smart and doing well on tests and avoiding chores or really much of anything.  Also having no concrete interests or motivation/drive.  As a teenager, I was definitely depressed (not all depression has people holed up and sad by the way.  there are a few different types of depression with their own list of symptoms and behavior) but I'm also the poster child for ADD.  I couldn't stand doing homework and trying felt so POINTLESS.  When things were slightly difficult, I wasn't able to just stick to it so I wouldn't do it.  Procrastination is basically my middle name.  I'm smart, and I'd usually do really well on tests so long as I paid attention in class but I can't tell you how many fights I had with my mom about my increasingly lower grades.  I had to have a chore list too and the expectation was that I had to get my daily chores done before mom got home from work unless it was cleaning up after dinner.  I was still expected to help out in other ways too when she asked.. those were just my basic every day chores.

 

ADD inattentive type is usually under diagnosed.  Easy to miss in kids and teenagers.  Usually girls have it and since people believe girls don't get ADD and that ADD is always the hyperactivity people think of when they think of boys with ADD it is hard to see.  Makes it even harder when a boy has ADD inattentive type too since it is usually girls.. boys are hyperactive!  Hard to diagnose on girls.. harder on boys.  Usually people with it fly under the radar, but just barely because of the guidelines around them in school and at home.  Its once they get out on their own where it becomes a REAL problem.  This has definitely been true for me.

 

A general apathy can definitely be depression if he just doesn't CARE but if its a matter of motivation and lack of focus, it could be the less expected form of ADD.  The information on his grades really tips me off to that, especially where you say it is laziness.  There is a book on ADD called 'you mean I'm not lazy, stupid, or crazy?!'  and as the title suggests, people with ADD are often seen as lazy and stupid and crazy and often FEEL lazy stupid and crazy.  I spent so much time wondering why the heck I couldn't just get myself to do what I needed to.  I WANTED to but I couldn't figure out HOW.  All I was ever told was to just stop being lazy and to just do it.  Clearly that didn't work.  I barely got out of high school.

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#16 of 19 Old 03-08-2011, 05:43 PM
 
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There is nothing wrong with your son. You have to make adjustments to deal with the issues without making them battles.

 

My son is intelligent (gets A's & B's without studying), follows a religious path, and is constantly making stuff, doing art, natural dyes, etc. He has friends, goes to parties, and loves playing Flux with the family. But I can't get him to do stuff around the house either. Here are some of our solutions:

 

1. He is assigned a certain cup he has to drink out of. This prevents him from pouring a glass of milk, leaving it in the living room, coming back for another glass of juice, leaving that one outside, coming back for water....you get the point.

2. He has to eat at a specific place at the table. It doesn't matter if it is a snack or a meal. This has helped with the issue of him leaving empty chip bags, cracker boxes, plates, you name what else all over the house (refer to the cup issue). Because you know he "was going to clean up all at once ... later!" only he forgot.

3. His participation in the "financial benefits of the household" (i.e. allowance) is dependent on his contribution in terms of certain items that he must do every single day. One missed item = decrease in the amount of "participation" in the available funds after the bills are paid.

4. he has a cell phone and a computer (in the living room where he can be supervised, of course) that are entirely associated with his grades. If his grades are dipping and I don't see him doing his homework, studying, asking for help, etc. the phone gets restricted to where he can only call his parents and his internet connection goes bye bye. That said, if he is asking me for help and we are studying and I know he is having trouble with something, he is absolutely not penalized for a low grade in that subject.

 

I am not saying we don't still have issues, but making it really clear what is expected and the consequences of him not following through does help a lot. And once in a while he will even see that the trash can is full and take out the garbage without being asked. I hope you can use our ideas and apply them to the specific situations you and your son are struggling with.

 

 

 

 

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#17 of 19 Old 03-10-2011, 08:49 AM
 
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I am so happy to be in the company of other moms that have a 15 year old son like this. I count my blessings, I am grateful my son is a great person. He must discover self motivation,soon. Anyone who knows him admonishes me for his lack of initiative. It doesn't help that his Dad (my ex) is just like him only 40 years old. Anyway, back to the thread topic. We are BROKE.  The teens in the house are aware that allowance is a challenge right now, so it isn't hard to imagine why DS wants nothing to do with chores. He does as little as possible. He loves a screen. Computer, video games, Movies. So he earns his screen time, with good grades, and respectful attitude(critical in a house full of people). He wants to go to live with his dad,where he can eat, drink and play x-box until sunrise. I didn't mention he is 30 pounds overweight. Any suggestions on a way forward? We go to counseling, and it does help. I need some new ideas. 


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#18 of 19 Old 03-11-2011, 12:01 PM
 
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I'm mostly a lurker, but I just had to chime in because I severely disagree with the suggestions to re-home the animals.  As a parent, you know that a child will lose interest in a pet after a period of time.  Therefore, as the adult of the household, you must be prepared to be the primary caretaker of that animal for the rest of its life.  How you delegate the actual daily responsibilities is up to you, but in the end - YOU are responsible.  You shouldn't bring a pet into the house if you are not prepared for that.  Getting rid of the animals teaches a child that pets are disposable.  Get a cool pet, get bored, give it away, a few months later, get another type of cool pet: repeat.  That doesn't jive with the values I want to teach my children.  Pets are not disposable playthings.  They are living creatures that depend on us for their happiness and health. 

 

Sorry, I'm not accusing you personally of being like that, but those who suggested so casually to get rid of the pets really touched a nerve with me.  My soap box issue, obviously. 

 

Good luck with your son.  My DS is 11 and we have some of the problems you are describing, so the advice presented has been very helpful!

 

Mama to 1DS, 1DD, 2 cats, 5 dogs and 5 bearded dragons  ;)

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#19 of 19 Old 03-11-2011, 01:57 PM
 
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I'm sorry to say he is a NORMAL 15yo teen...LOL! My 15 and 17 yr old daughters are the same way when it comes to chores.  Who wants to do chores?  I know I don't, but as a parent, and adult I KNOW that it has to get done.  As a teenager doing stuff around the house is the last thing on their minds.  Fortunately for them they have parents like us, who have to teach them these responsibilities.  I look back to when I was a teen and sometimes I laugh because I think, "I did these exact same things that I now want to get mad at my kids for...this must be payback for what I put my mom through when she wanted my help around the house."  It's a funny little world we live in but it's also these times that I smile and appreciate my mom and dad even more for putting up with me when I was in my teens.

 

Very few teens will do something on their own to help out routinely...if you have a teen that does their chores and goes above and beyond that without being told...WOW! That's amazing!!!  Unfortunately until they move out and have a real place of their own...I'm assuming I will always need to remind them that their help is needed.  As far as what to do? It seems the more they know something bothers you, the more they will push your buttons on it, especially when they are upset with you.  My 17 yr old is old enough to know what she can help out with, unfortunately there is more lack of laziness then taking the initiative, although every once in a while she will surprise me.  The good thing is, she is a complete daddy's girl, so if daddy addresses it and reminds her that she needs to help out she'll get the job done.  My 15 yr old, not quite the same. She will push your buttons as much as she can.  She said if she had an allowance she would help out. We said, if you live here, eat here, and sleep here then you will help out.  It was a constant battle and put a huge strain on the relationship.  We decided that maybe an allowance would motivate her, we gave her a list (items that i would be happy to get some help with) along with an allowance (which she would now use to go out with friends, or buy clothes, accessories, makeup, etc.) It went along fine, and then a month came when she didn't do what was on the list. She thought she would still get an allowance, but since nothing got done she received no money in return. She is now being stubborn and choosing not to do chores again, honestly I'm ok with it because it's her choice not to get money, I'm pretty sure she'll come around when she realizes she could really use the extra cash.  She's a good kid overall, and picks up after herself.  But to help us out around the house would be a crime, especially since she is upset. Silly little girl doesn't realize how much we do for her but I do have comfort in knowing that one day when she is a mom she will realize.  So for now, it's picking and choosing battles.  I keep mental note of what she does not do when I ask because there comes a time when she will ask, can you take me here, or can you buy this for me, or can so and so come over, can I go to the movies.  That is when I say, just like you need me, I need you too...remember that day that I needed your help around the house and you CHOSE not to help?  The teenage years are not my favorite, but this is the time that they are trying to attain their independence.  They think they know everything, and HATE to be told what to do and when to do it.  Humor him at times and let him CHOSE not to help out, but you can also teach him that there are consequences for his actions. The privileges we give our kids are a great tool for enforcing things.  Of course every kid is different; some more stubborn than others, so you just have to figure out what works best for the child you are dealing with. To this day, I'm still not sure what works best with her...but I do know that she likes to push buttons and test boundaries and if I can help it, I'll do my best to not let her see them get pushed.  Anybody have advise on how to handle a middle child, she is completely that! But I love her, and she adds spice to my life and keeps us on our toes.  Just when we think we have her figured out, we quickly realize we're in for a new lesson on raising kids.

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