What Can You Do?
All they do is sit on the couch and watch television. They spend so many hours using the computer that their butt has left a permanent impression on the chair. You believe that there must be something medically wrong with your child because they are constantly taking a nap. You are concerned. You are disappointed. Most of all, you are angry.
Suddenly, one bright, sunny day, after you’ve repeatedly asked your son/daughter to do something productive with their time and to prove that they still have a pulse, you watch them exit the house. You rub your eyes. You pinch your arm. Your blurry vision and the throbbing pain in your forearm prove that you’re not dreaming. You call to them to not be late for dinner. Without turning around or speaking, they raise their hand up and wag it half heartedly. You’ll take that gesture to mean that they’ll be home in time.
Are they going for a walk? Are they going to meet their friends to play a sport? You know you should’ve pressed them for more information, but you were in shock. Your child, that sweet, phenomenal creature, who, up until today, was a disappointment who only drained your patience and your money, is finally outside, taking steps to a place that isn’t the refrigerator. It’s a good day.
For the first time in months, you are able to sit on the couch in the daylight. You can watch some television. You can read a book. You can do a puzzle or two. You can notice, from this perspective, the dust that has collected on the family pictures. Still feeling happy about your child, you get up and grab the duster. They will see that you’ve dusted their picture and will know that you appreciate them. You look closely at their kindergarten picture. You smile at their missing teeth and that clump of hair that wouldn’t stay down. They were so cheerful back then. They were active and into everything. What happened?
You go into the kitchen and start making dinner. Getting out the ingredients, you realize that you’ve made the same five meals every week for years. This is a special day. You decide to run to the store to get other ingredients. You’re going to make your child’s favorite dish tonight. As you walk to your car, you call your child’s cell phone to let them know that you’re going out, but will be back soon. It rings and rings and goes to voicemail. They must be too busy getting in their exercise to hear the phone ring. You decide to drive in the direction they were headed in. If you see them, you’ll just wave and say you’re going to the store.
Before you can drive very far, you notice something odd. Sitting on the rock pile at the apartment complex around the corner from your house, you spot your son/daughter. They are alone. They are playing on their handheld game system. All of the good feelings you were feeling up until this second, quickly fade away. Once again, you are disappointed and angry. You roll down your window and yell out for them not to be late for dinner. They give you a surprised look. They never thought they’d be caught. You do a three point turn and return home. Along the way, you tune your vocal cords for the yelling you’re going to do when they get home. Your child is once again just a lazy lump in your mind. What is a parent to do about such a child?
In this case, as with many others, the parent needs to take away all technology privileges. If the television was to break, they’d just go to the computer for entertainment. If the computer breaks, there’s always the Game Boy, the cell phone, the iPod and etc. The more gadgets one has, the more prone they are to use one. Were you to take away all of these things, what would be left? Homework? Books? I, unfortunately, can’t think of one teenager who would open a book if all other entertainment options were exhausted.
Is your child sick and/or depressed? Has there been something that may have happened to cause such a dramatic shift in behavior or have they always been somewhat lazy? Being a teenager is rough. Your hormones are ever changing and always crazy. When you add something else into the mix (bad grades, heart break, divorce, death, etc.), things become even more fun. It’s like trying to mop the floor when you have a nose bleed. You’re doing your best to handle things, but your body keeps making you mess up. It’s never a bad idea to go see a doctor.
Still, what should a parent do when their child lacks the motivation to get off of their butt? Beyond removing distractions (television, internet, video games, etc.) and getting their child a check-up, the parent must set a good example. If you want your child to be active, you must be active too. You can’t be yelling at your child to run around the block or throw a basketball if you’re sitting on the couch next to them eating a donut. Offspring, regardless of age or mental maturity, look to their parent(s) to set a good example.
On the other hand, if you’re a health nut, your kids are capable of being lazy too. It’s a form of rebellion. “My parent(s) run two miles every morning and eat granola twice a day so I’m going to sleep till noon and eat nothing, but fried foods.” Every child goes through a period of rebellion. They see their parents as old and they don’t want to end up like them. They would rather risk their health than give in to their parents. One day, they’ll realize how foolish they were.
While every parent would like to have total control of their child until a date yet to be set, its unrealistic. You can’t encourage your child to be their own person while criticizing them for breaking from the mold. You can’t tell them to be more active because, seeing it’s what you want, they won’t do it. You can buy them cool running gear. You can have a tennis court built in your backyard. You can give your couch and ever piece of technology to Goodwill. You can make exercise look fun. Yet, don’t be offended when they don’t change their behavior. Teenagers are complicated people. They are children trying to become adults. They fight the urge every day to call you “Mommy” and “Daddy.” Too often, adults forget what it was like to be a teenager. They forget that the harder they push their child to change the harder their child will push back. When your child decides to be active, they’ll be active. Until then, take many, many deep breaths.
frustrated stepped on dad on August 24, 2015:
About a year ago I began a romantic relationship with my best friends beautiful sister. I came into this situation unaware of the challenges I would soon be facing, not with her and I but her children. She didn't have much was being thrown out of her house lights about to be shut off and a bunch of bloodsuckin parasite people who took full advantage of her kind generous disposition and big heart. As of late things have worked out and it might not sound like much to anyone else but we have made some upgrades in our lifestyle just little things like cable ,internet,phone, nice big tv and a home that I am not ashamed to have people come into. I have a matienance position in a mobile home park and the only one bringing an income into the household. Her 26 year old daughter and two grandkids were staying with us as well as her three boys ages 18 13 8. I have accepted the responsibility of the kids as far as what they need financially school functions trying to be a positive male figure in their lives without assuming the authoritative or disciplining actions of a dad I figure that she can handle. Was I ever wrong . These kids won't lift a finger to do anything here except play video games. And I mean 16 to 20 hours at a time every day. Neither boy can ride a bicycle the 8 year old can't even tie his own shoe or wipe his own ass without using a whole roll of toilet tissue and clogging the toilet. They have no social skills cause they never go outside or communicate with other kids their age and they are the most selfish whiney lazy kids I have ever seen in my life. I tried to take them camping and fishing to get them outdoors even asked them to go arrowhead hunting with me just to get them outside but to no avail. All they do is sit around eating junk food and drinking soda and waiting on mom to wait on them hand and foot which she does without hesitation or concern. I work my ass off everyday to try and give them a better life only to come home to have to take out trash mow the yard and here my wife complain about house work needing to be done and all the while the boys just sit doing nothing. The youngest one has it figured out when he doesn't want to do something he just starts crying for nothing and its to the point where I feel like kicking him in the face because I see the sneaky manipulative scheme he is playing on mom but his fake tears don't affect me in the way he thinks they should. When you a ask him something its like he looks right through you doesn't say a thing and continues on with what he wants to do which is nothing. I recently took him to his first fair gave him money for games rides food the whole experience you know so he could have a good time and he never even so much as said thank you. I bought a 60 inch tv for everyone to enjoy and had bought a ps3 last year for me as well as everyone else to enjoy. The boys had a ps2 but due to the 13 year olds lack of responsibility and temper tantrums its met an untimely demise but they faced no consequences because he just hijacked my ps3 and big tv like I was obligated to give it to him cause he didn't have anything to play. So now I can't watch my big tv or play the ps3 cause when I am not working they are always on it doing what they want to d so its back into my room on a 19 inch tv listening to them enjoy all the things I worked hard to buy. The big problem they fail to realize is if I wasn't here or decided I can't do this anymore they won't have anything. I can't get their mom to back me up on any of the things I have voiced my concerns about she just lets them do whatever. All I asked was that they take 2 hours a day off the games and go outside and do something anything but that don't happen either they just look at me like I am retarded and mom won't back me. I am tired of spending my time money and patience on them when its not appreciated anyhow I am on the verge of throwing my hands up and being done but I love that woman so much I keep going. What the he'll can I do?
mom on September 16, 2012:
I grew up respecting my parents and doing what was necessary to contribute to the family unit. I don't like that my children spend hours in front of a computer or video screen. However, who bought or permitted the computer or games? So partly my fault. But, I would never have heard the end of it. Kids whine until they get what they want. What gets me is the lack of appreciation.
I do appreciate the comments from teenagers. It provides input (although I don't agree with a lot of them). They have a mind of a teenager. One day, they will grow up and have the mind of an adult and parent. Then they will realize the real responsibilities in life.
Now a days there are more and more young adults who are moving back home and living with their parents - probably the ones who spent hours on video games, computers, and watching television. Then, they will blame their parents for their outcome.
Not all teenagers are rude, lazy, disrespectful, unappreciative, irresponsible, but a lot of them are.
Frustrated on June 07, 2012:
When I was a teenager, I didn't talk back, I had chores that had to be done daily, not optional and I was expected to be honest and responsible! My son however sits around ALL night playing games, is negative, nasty, extremely lazy, he does nothing without being asked and usually does them half ass. He is almost 17 and see's zero point in getting a job, no interest in driving, family events or ANYTHING he even argues that going to bed when everyone else does is makes no sence. He makes minimal effort in school, and it's always like pulling teeth to get a complete sentence out of him. He is making these choices for himself. What can I do?
smdh on May 16, 2012:
It's funny to read the teenagers' comments; they show just how immature teenagers really are.
ogsesame on March 29, 2012:
We are all experiencing the same thing...unfortunately we are the "past" generation now and we were far more active than this yoimger y generation. The x generation were movers n shakers! Good luck parents, hang in there, keep giving good advice and take care of "you" most importantly bc if you are not well you can't assist your child. I have a 14 year old w similar issues. Go to the spa or get a massage as often as possible and ...breath ;)
Lily on March 22, 2012:
Many thanks for this eye-opening article! I've been going out of my mind, trying to encourage, inspire, and guide my teens to become more active. I am a 'health nut' and an early-bird. I have done everything under the sun to motivate them to wake up at a reasonable time, to volunteer, to find a p/t job, or something...anything...to spend their time productively. Nothing has worked so far. Hence, I will be taking many many 'deep breaths' until next year, when they turn 18. Inhale...exhale...inhale...exhale...
thor on March 16, 2012:
The funny part about this is i have a gaming computer sit right next to me and i don't even touch it till the weekend ?
TiredOfLazyPeople on November 14, 2011:
No child should be allowed yo sit for hours on end. Lazy parents should schedule activities for their kids and interact with them on a regular basis. Its your job to raise and love them, not the electronic devices that you bought for them.
marie on October 26, 2011:
Youth is wasted on the young
jmharris05 on June 08, 2011:
Shellybelle39, I felt like you were describing my step-son. I am so frustrated only more so that my son is 20 years old. He got fired from his job due to being late and missing meetings. Further, his dad helped him get another job and he has been late many days to the new job he only had for two weeks. His dad gives him everything he wants to assure him to be successful, but he takes the offerings to become even more lazy. I am so sad a frustrated, i want him out!!!! I feel that is the only way he is ever going to learn...we are talking about young men one day becoming fathers, husbands, active parts of society. No they do not have to go to college, no they do not have to follow our advice on their future, but they need to come up with a plan. I do no mind helping you out, but u have to help yourself first. I am not lazy, nor is my husband who works hard everyday and with no reward!!!!!!!! We do everything!!!!!! As long as we enable our children to be lazy that is what we are going to get. I just wonder how to handle the dad who feels that he is helping, when really he is causing more harm? Thanks
ShellyBell39 on April 28, 2011:
I'm the single mother of two boys ages 16 & 18 their father really takes no interest in their lives or well being so it's up to me to raise them both.
I honestly cannot relate to boys on any level emotionally or understand their problems on a level they want me to understand so basically I listen to what they have to say for as long as they want me to listen then when they are done they get up and move on, but I do try hard don't get me wrong to try to understand what they are going through and what it is they are needing.
I constantly reiterate that I love them a lot, and as they were growing up I constantly tried to instill in them the importance of finding out what you want to do with your life because if you start making your decisions now, when the time comes you will be prepared with at least something. Here it is, my 18 year old is the laziest thing I have ever seen and the most unappreciative person I know. He doesn't care about school, he just goes to school and sleeps or daydreams, he's smart (Very smart) and has deep and intelligent conversations with anyone who is willing to conversate with him.
He loves politics with a passion and wants to get into politics and the military, but here's the kicker, he's so lazy he doesn't want to graduate high school. He's going to be 19 soon, and I have tried every way that I can to motivate him to do his school work, and have tried to show him that the military does not take GEDs anymore nor do many jobs since jobs these days are really hard to get because it's a competitors market and the only way you're going to make it in that market is with an education. What does he do? Sits on the laptop, I put him in an accelerated program so he could graduate and he doesn't put forth any effort, all I get is complaints from his teachers that he just sits there on the same packet for three months. when he gets home he just gets on the laptop that the school gave to him to do his homework on and sits there for the rest of the night. I'm so tired of him I could choke him, he doesn't do anything I ask him to do the dishes but to rinse them first please, he doesn't do that so it ends up that they have to be redone because of the stuck food on there. I come in and get blasted out by music to which I ask him to turn it down and he ignores me so I yank out the speakers and he gets mad. I have tried taking away his technology and he just goes to sleep, he doesn't care, he's not motivated and I'm tired and frustrated. I'm about ready to pack him and a bag and throw him out the door. My friends have tried to help him and we try to give him incentives to get him to do his school work, but he says that he is just going to sit in school until he is 19 and they will kick him out, Then what is my question? Does anyone have someone like this??
I could definitely use advice, and I have bought him things that I he likes and all he tells me is how I wasted my time and money buying him things like this and he doesn't want it, he wants video games (WOW) and I told him Not on your life, so he doesn't want things that I buy him that would help him to develop the good things in his life like artists sets, or political books or something I know he would like, he just tosses it to the side and never touches it again. Would you all kick him out? What would you do?
sam on March 24, 2011:
i have two teenagers who do nothing .lazy to the extreme.the only way i would get them to do chores is if a computer could do them.
Mdskyhawk on March 22, 2011:
WOW! I am at my Wits end - Not a mom here but a Dad to a 14 year old son, in a good marriage. I work 12 to 15 hours a day - I set an example - I work around the house - I also relax when I am done (seems to be the only thing he learns from me) - I am positive with his accomplishments - and supportive of his short comings - Sometimes I yell when I get too frustrated but not that often. Punishment he could care less it always "Ok" and he will sit like a lump or sleep til his grounding is complete. He puts just enough effort into school to get c's & b's (it all comes to easy for him after struggling with early childhood learning development) Point blank stated if I do any better people will expect more of me. I know it is tuff being a teen But I just want to throttle him 1/2 the time. I was beat and I turned out fine (but I know that is no solution) NOW he thinks he is depressed because he has symptoms he learned in Health! Tired, lazy, sad. Thinks he needs medicine. He is tired because he is LAZY and slightly over weight. Had his heart broken by a girl 2 months ago but he handled it maturily talking with his friends, talking with me, But shouldn't it be time that he is over it now? This is the real reason I believe he thinks he is depressed because he still sees her every Sunday and goes to youth functions where she is at. I told him to just be polite say hi and gotta go and it will be fine. Oh and as you probably already know as his parents we don't know anything.
lucy on November 02, 2010:
now children are writing exams my sister is alawys in bed and when i shout at her everytime when i get back from work...my mother thinks that i'm rude and i don't like her and that worries me because she wont pass at the end of the year becauuse of her...behavior.
Crazy_Mom on September 30, 2010:
I honestly feel like we're discussing my 14yo! I've been going through similar struggles with everything mentioned here and worn slam out with it! steephill, is your son into video/computer games? I suggested to mine the other day, invite some friends over to do these things. While it is far from the ideal situation, it's a start, and at least could start opening the door to other better activities. My son is highly opinionated and critical about kids and just doesn't seem to get that a friend isn't suppose to meet his entire "pie in the sky" expectations. Excusing are plentiful about how someone is ill-equipped to make an appropriate friend and few about how they could. Truthfully, for mine I think it all points back to a laziness issue...it's easier to chat w/ folks thru IM.
steephill on August 30, 2010:
I've been racking my brains to find a way to get my third son (nearly 14)to want to do exercise/activities. While writing a real moany message on here I realised that I already had the answer. I'll have to be satisfied with the few things he will do - however mundane or different. The ony success I've had so far are: short bursts of gardening on the allotment, occasional canoeing with his dad, days on the beach (1 hr away)- winter or summer where we build giant sandcastles using the garden spade, playing in the garden with the dog or walking round the shops.
It only frustrates me and makes me fall out with him if I try to get him to do anything else such as cycling, walking the dog or swimming. Maybe he's too self-conscious about being seen? Hopefully this 'laziness' is just a phase and he'll develop more motivation to move in a few years. I think thats how it worked with the other two, although they did go out to play football with friends, which son3 doesn't. I probably need to do something about the lack of friends but I'm not sure what yet.
L.A. Walsh (author) from Lowell, MA on June 27, 2010:
Hope you're not like your siblings, Lulu.
lulu on June 27, 2010:
this is really true
my siblings have the same problems !
L.A. Walsh (author) from Lowell, MA on June 06, 2010:
Carrie, I admire you for standing your ground with his allowance. Too often parents seem to reward their misbehaving children which sends the wrong message. By showing him that laziness doesn't pay, you are preparing him for his adult life and I think that's fantastic. Keep up the good work!
Carrie on June 03, 2010:
This SO sounds like my son! Except for the fact that if he does not do the simple chores I require him to do (clean his bathroom, wash and hangup/ put away all his own laundry, and clean his room every Sunday) he won't get his $15 allowance. He is one year too young to have a job so $15 is a lot for him.
He wants the money.
If he does not do his chores, I just keep the $15. simple. No arguing. I don't care if he runs out of clean clothes. Saves ME $15.00. But that almost never happens.
Now, getting the boy to exercise has proven impossible. I tired. I just cancelled his health club membership that I opened up for him (with me). He does not want to go. Oh, well.
L.A. Walsh (author) from Lowell, MA on May 02, 2010:
Losinit, you need to teach your young adult to be more self-sufficient. She will legally be an adult within a year and while you believe you're being a loving parent, you are actually handicapping her. In other words, once she's out on her own, she will be lost and get herself into countless binds that not even you will be able to get her out of. You didn't mention if she'll be going to college. If she is and decides to dorm, she is in for a rude awakening. Having met many girls like your daughter (and having been like her in terms of being overly reliant upon my mother), I know how embarrassing it is to be a certain age and not be able to do basic chores (wash dishes, do laundry, etc.) as easily as friends who weren't hardcore pampered by well-meaning parents. My advice to you is that you stop doing everything for your daughter and try to tune her out when she complains about such and such not being done for her. As you don't want her to starve or attract flies, I would recommend you still cook for her and do some light laundry. Concerning her language and abusive behavior, I am speechless. I was raised by strict parents who made me treat my family with respect. I wouldn't have dared to talk back to my parents and certainly not to swear in front of them. Beyond telling her to treat you with respect and ignoring her until she does, I don't know what else to tell you to do. In passing, I told my mom about your situation and she suggested that you buy a large frying pan and tell her that if she abuses you in any way she's going to get hit. She suggests that you only lightly hit her and calmly reiterate your feelings on why she shouldn't talk back to you. While I do understand my mom's reasoning, knowing how insane this must sound to you and knowing that your daughter would probably call the police on you I'm not going to recommend that you do the whole frying pan thing. I do recommend though that you set your daughter straight immediately before she gets set straight by a police officer or gets killed by someone who doesn't like her lip. She's too young to be written off as a bad person. Train her now to be better and you'll reap the long term benefits. Best of luck to you!
losinIt on April 28, 2010:
MY 17 year old is lazy and stubborn if she doesn't get what she wants when she wants it she loses it; she is abusive and has a mouth like a truck driver. We have been thru the mill with her already and she's not finished yet. She doesn't do a thing for herself and calls me constantly , she wants everything done for her with out any effort on her part. I am tired of being a parent slave. I think if i did nothing for her she wouyld just stay in room and die.
L.A. Walsh (author) from Lowell, MA on April 16, 2010:
I agree, WildIris. Thank you for commenting! :)
WildIris on April 15, 2010:
Great photo. Sometimes I feel like I need a megaphone. "Hello! I was talking to you!" Teens are on another planet.
It takes so long to find maturity, and once you find it, you're sailing into middle age.
L.A. Walsh (author) from Lowell, MA on January 18, 2010:
Sam, I hope your kids return the favor one day.
Samuel Moyer on January 18, 2010:
I always start each day by smacking and beating my kids as soon as they wake up. So far it has worked well. They do everything I want them to do.
L.A. Walsh (author) from Lowell, MA on January 09, 2010:
Thank you for your comment! :)
pigfish from Southwest Ohio on January 09, 2010:
"Teenagers are complicated." Love it! So true. "They are children trying to become adults." Years ago I cam across the following quote and it is my parenting principle..."We are not trying to raise children. We are trying to raise adults." Thanks for your hub. We are all going through the same struggles with our teens. And we love 'em anyway!