General chatter - I need help / opinions about situation with 16( soon to be 17) yr old son..

06-11-2007, 12:08 PM
Hi , I have never posted here, but was hoping for some input with my son. It is summer and my Son is expecting that he can sit home the whole summer doing nothing.
First let me explain my situation, we relocated here almost 2 yrs ago because of Hurricane Katrina, My son has made some friends, but the area we live in he has none( it is not a good area), but there is a park with a basketball court 3 blocks away. My son is a computer nerd( he has won awards , licenses for his knowledge), and just sits in his room all day. We have one car, that hubby uses for work, but I do drive it when I need it, and we are 1 block away from a bus system. N.C. only allows teens to work when they are 16, that was my son's excuse last year.
Now he will be 17 in July, and does nothing, I took away his internet access, because he doesn't want to work, and all he does is find excuses why he can't work. I am really pissed to tell the truth, my son , does nothing at home, accept wash his clothes and some of his dishes, he expects me to cook all three meals for him( which I have stopped doing), ect. I was working at age 14 and so was his dad. If I tell him this, he just argues more.
He wants all these things, so I tell him he has to work for them, but expects us to buy them( we don't have the money to do this), I am at the point that I don't want to give him anything big for his Birthday or buy him school clothes. His friends that he talks to here and back in Louisiana, all are working, they have saved up for cars, computers, ect.. he doesn't want to do anything. Help!! Tia Cheryl

06-11-2007, 12:12 PM
He's been through a lot of changes the last couple of years. Do you think he could be depressed?

Perhaps he could take a class at the local community college on computers or volunteer somewhere with computers (senior center). Could he set up a small business designing websites?

06-11-2007, 12:23 PM
I would also suspect depression. Motivation and interest in the outside world are often the first things to go when a person is reacting to such big losses in their life. You and husband are also very stressed. Family counseling could really help to get everyone on the same page.

06-11-2007, 12:25 PM
We did see a family counselor, and she suggested that he needs to go out, but no one can get him out if doesn't want to go, He has gone out with friends, to movies, ect.. but they are all working this summer, and don't have the time to hang out with him.

06-11-2007, 12:35 PM
I'm an Army Brat myself. I think I spent a year and a half, the most, in any given school. Its really hard growing up and being forced through a transition like this. I had a few depressing moments, and was rather angsty with my parents. You should try to get your son into a program or work placement where he's going to enjoy his work.

If he's a computer nerd, maybe try and help him set up his own business focusing on what he does best. Be it fixing computers, the actual hardware side of things, or a webhost/design company, whatever he excels at. I, myself am involved in both sides of that coin.

Motivation can be a big issue for teenagers. Especially when there's trauma involved. You should really step up and kick things in the bud, so he doesnt develop bad habits for when he's out of your home and into the big world for the first time.

06-11-2007, 12:39 PM
I ran your question past my 'boys' aged 20 and 25. They recall that we got them each their first job, helped them get back and forth etc. That's a difficult step into the very very different for kids. Scarey in fact.

They were not immediately responsible for all of their clothing and such. That kinda came over time

We have no tips about helping around the house tho'. I have always worked shift so they've been helping since they can remember.

06-11-2007, 03:23 PM
I do have other strategies for making, I mean encouraging, my children do things.
1) Bribery. I paid my daughter $10 a week to train with her cross country team during the summer last year. She started out doing it for the money but this year she is doing it because she loves it. She can run a 6 min 30 sec mile now.
2) Trades. My seventh grade son loves computer games. He "prepays" an hour of reading for an hour of video games. He has been reading nonstop for the last three days so I am a bit worried about how he wants to cash those hours in. but he earned them according to our agreement.
3) More bribery. I've made charts for them (an hour of studying math facts) and after they have checked off forty hours, they get a predetermined award....usually a trip to the local amusement park.

You could try some of these strategies. Give him an hour on the computer for every hour he works. Even a part time job dipping ice cream for four hours a day would give him four hours on the computer later.

I know money is tight for everyone, but maybe you could match what he earns, either 50 cents on the dollar (he earns $10, you throw in $5) or any ratio you can afford without going nuts. I have a feeling once he starts filling his pockets with his own money, he will start to enjoy it.

06-11-2007, 03:30 PM
Like Susan B, we helped our kids get their first jobs. In our area, it's hard for even the kids to get jobs unless you know someone. Talk to him about what he'd be interested in doing, and think if you know anyone that would have connections in that area. After he gets his first job and likes having his own money, your problem may be solved. Explain to him even if he doesn't like what he does for his first job, having any job experience will open doors for him while trying to find what he really would like to do.

06-11-2007, 03:36 PM
My DD is 16 and also quite the computer junkie (to the point where we allowed her to go to a lock-down party at the local internet gaming place last weekend). She also spends all of her free time in her room playing games on the internet. She did have a job last summer (hostess at Applebee's) but is unemployed right now. Thankfully DH and I own our own business and she has said she wants to work for us this summer (part time). I think we'll allow that.

Anyway, are there any gaming places there that might hire your son? Places like Game Stop which is a retail seller of new and used computer and handheld games or internet cafes might be a place where his expertise might be helpful in landing him a job. Otherwise, I'm all for the bribery stuff--I did it with my kids and still do. If they are home, they are put to work each and every day! Not that it is hard, but it helps me out a lot. I make them do the laundry, take the dogs for walks, clean the house, make dinner for the family, etc. It teaches them independence and skills they'll need when they do move out and it helps me tremendously.

06-11-2007, 07:45 PM
If he is dealing with some sort of depression, it is really difficult. I, too, was dealing with depression and in almost the same situation as your son when I was 16. I started volunteering at an elementary school and it really helped. The hardest part is doing it, though. So I can understand how he'd be feeling right now.

Can you help him find a job? Help him find a place to volunteer maybe? I can understand how you want him to be responsible for himself, but, you've got to see that he's going from you taking care of him constantly, to you basically saying "you've got to do it all on your own, now!" Which is hard on anyone.

06-11-2007, 10:30 PM
I know that I'm 19 and still have never had a paying job. This summer I'm working full time at a nonprofit- but it's an internship so my "payment" is a letter of recommendation and a tic on my resume.

I know a problem I faced during high school was when trying to find a job, people will not hire kids without cars. Every single job interview I went to asked me if I owned my own transportation, and I wasn't about to lie about it. My parents chose to take the money they would have put into a car and save it for my now $50,000 a year college tuition, which is the responsible thing to do of course. However, many employers see not having a car as being a sign that you lack responsibility. Even now, as I'm looking for a part time job, I live in a city with amazing public transportation but every job I have applied for wants someone with a car- regardless of if the job requires transportation or not!

If you can, definitely help your son find a job. Since your family was uprooted, you may not have many connections but you can help him find something too. It's exceedingly scary and nerve wracking to go job hunting at any age. I spent 3 summers searching for jobs only to be rejected for every one due to my lack of experience and lack of a car... my parents couldn't help me where my friends whose parents knew people all easily got jobs. It's tough.

However, personally I do not think taking away the internet is going to solve anything. If anything, it will make them worse. I was very depressed my freshman year of high school and that summer, my parents took away the computer privileges for basically the entire summer. I wasn't even doing anything bad- mostly doing research about things I didn't know in the days before wikipedia. When my internet usage was shut off, I felt very isolated and resorted to serious self harm for several years. Online games and communication are the way that many teenagers use to cope with whatever negative feelings they're facing.

Goodbye Chubby
06-12-2007, 05:20 PM
If any income your son would provide is necessary to contribute to running the household, then disregard the following. If you simply want him to work to gain a sense of responsibilty and/or get him out of the house, then I have a different perspective.

I always felt that I had the rest of my life to work and that I should enjoy the perks of youth while I could. Money was tight growing up, but things improved as I progressed through high school and my parents provided me with all the basics, food, school clothes (nothing expensive), etc. I didn't have a car and was fine with that. I don't see anything wrong with your son not wanting a job if he's willing to do without little luxuries and isn't asking for money. Of course, he should be expected to help with household chores, regardless.

Once he finds an opportunity for a job that peaks his interest I'm sure he'll take action. My senior year in high school, I taught private saxophone lessons (my first job). It didn't pay much but it was something I wanted to do; it was my choice, and nobody forced me into it. I understand and respect people who have been working from an early age, whether because they had to (severe financial straights) or simply wanted to, but a job at such a young age isn't necessarily for everyone, in my humble opinion.

Before forcing this action on him, have you sat him down and discussed your expectations and his expectations? If kids at his school are from upper middle class (or even high class) families who seem to simply give their kids everything, it might distort his perception of his own familiy's financial situation.

Again, I don't know how severe your situation is after having to relocate, but I wouldn't push the job thing unless it's absolutely necessary (which it very well may be). In that case...all I can say is to sit him down with the bills so he understands what goes into running a household.

I used to spend hours on end in my room reading, and I think I turned out alright. Some people are just more introverted and like being indoors alone.

I didn't mean for this to get so long, but I look back on those hours I spent "locked up" in my room and am grateful. As a side note, one of the perks of focusing on learning was that it helped me get a four year scholarship with room and board (and a free laptop and color printer in the deal). Your son's computer skills now could help ease the financial burden later.

06-12-2007, 10:47 PM
I also am inclined to think it is an issue with depression. At his age my family moved away from all I had ever known to a town where I knew nobody. I got really depressed, spent a lot of time in my room or on the computer, started doing drugs, etc. My parents eventually took me for some help, but similar to the family counselor that told you guys that he just needs to get out more - mine told me to "just get over it" as if that is possible.
I say he may benefit from some more help. I also think a compromise is possible - either him working just part time if he can secure a job, or him doing a set amount of work around the house to earn his computer access.
If he is depressed, telling him he's going to have to do everything on his own most likely won't motivate him... and if he is already isolated taking away his computer access is just going to make that worse. Especially if he uses it to keep in contact with his old friends.
It's a touchy situation, and I hope you don't feel like I'm in any way being critical of you. I was there not too long ago and honestly, no matter what my parents may have tried to do - I probably wouldn't have responded to it. But, girls are usually more difficult than boys in that regard. :)