Dealing with a teen child -

May 6, 2011
2,602
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Hi everyone.

I have 3 kids, one is a freshman in high school (14) and two little ones age 6 and 2.

My son has gone through this patch for the last couple of years where he doesn't have much interest in anything - except for hanging in his room or with friends on the weekend and of course texting/instagram.

He has played football since age 6, I thought he loved it. He didn't play last season because of a number of issues with his team but assured me he wanted to play next season. His school work has been mixed... A's in half his classes and a mixed bag in the others. He told me today he wants to quit football because he lost interest but that "he still loves it". I think that he is just being lazy and quitting because he hates the routine and discipline. He has to go to summer school and I told him he has to have an extracurricular activity in the summer - volunteering, etc.

I feel like he has no motivation to do much... what can I do to motivate him to pursue something else? I gave him until the end of the week (end of the school year) to give me a concrete plan because he doesn't follow through; otherwise I will pick an activity for him. Last year he spent the summer going to school for a few hours but he was just hanging around the house eating, texting and going to the mall - that is not going to fly this year.


I feel so sad that I can't just inject him with some energy or passion for something - I know that my love of dance got me through high school.

Ideas?
 

bagnshoofetish

resist.
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Feb 12, 2006
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I wish we had more guys in here who can give you a perspective about what its like to have been a 14 year old boy.

Is the summer school going to be every day, all day long? I ask because perhaps there are some day camps near your area that he might be interested in.

When I was in high school, I started to go through a depression that no one took notice of. And that made me more depressed. I was a cheerleader and on the track team (running was my passion) but began to start skipping classes and eventually quit the track team. It wasn't because of the discipline and routine involved it was because I was bored and depressed. I began to hate my school. I did not have any problems with other students but I felt invisible. Then I discovered alcohol.

Now I'm not implying thats what your son is doing just sharing what went on in my head at the time and how I so wish now someone had pulled me aside to just ask me whats going on. Guys and girls are different though I realize and while a young girl does not always mind opening up to someone, especially if they show interest in whats going on with her, a young guy tends to clam up more especially with the parents.

The last thing I wanted my mom to do was take a "whats wrong with you" approach. I also would have hated if she made me do anything even if it was with the intention of lighting fire under me. I just wanted someone to hear me.
I am certain your son has passions for things. He probably doesn't know quite how to express it yet, or understand how to reach his goals.

Do you know what his interests are? When he gets on the internet what does he look up? What interesting things are there to do in your area? Does he like the outdoors? Animals? Science? Do you guys do things together outside the home like hiking, biking, museums, concerts, etc? Finding things to do with him might spark his interest into exploring something. IMO the parents I have seen get things out of their kids did so by participating in activities with them. You may have to take him to events like car shows, art shows, science fairs, music festivals, etc. to expose him to lots of different things. Don't depend on him to take himself anywhere or open himself to something new. You have to take the helm on that one.

Don't tell him to go "do something", take him to go do something.
 

gillianna

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Dec 27, 2005
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Perhaps he might need more attention from you since you have little ones and they take up so much of your time? I am not saying this to sound mean but my one friend has a 13 year old and two toddlers. I noticed this past year her daughter has changed and become kind of lazy with no motivation. I had a talk with her and she told me her mom is too busy to pay attention to her so she stays glued to her phone and now is playing computer games which she never did before.

Does your son still hang out with his friends? To me if he dropped socializing that would make me worry. I do know some of my son's friends dropped out of football because summer practices in the heat were too much for them. I personally think the whole computer game, being glued to phones for facebook and all other social media along with computer games is such a negative thing for our kids and even many adults.

I don't think picking an activity and making your son do it is really going to make him happy, it might make him very angry at you. Is there a youth group, church group or volunteer work he can get involved in? The township parks departments usually have programs, schools and library need volunteers. It sounds to me like he needs to get out of the house to do something. My daughter volunteers at the library for helping little kids and it has an expanded program in the summer. Mostly girls volunteer but the little boy kids that go there love when they have older cool boys who are in the program. My son is going to be a camp counselor. Perhaps your son might like doing something like guitar lessons? You can always talk to the school guidance counselor for some input on things.

Depression can always be something to think about because it is something one might least expect. Do you or your husband/SO do things with your son? My husband used to make time for fishing and car shows when my son was younger. Now that he is older and it is before college he hangs out with his friends and girlfriend most of the time but my house is the hang out place so they are always here which is fine with me. I also truly think it's hard for kids these days. While many think kids feel entitled and are spoiled life was so much simpler years ago before we had all this electronic stuff in our life. Back in the day we lived outside and made our own fun now kids seem to depend on social media for a response to everything they do.
 
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RueMonge

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Jul 16, 2007
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I have four sons, the youngest of whom is also a freshman. Your son sounds absolutely normal. Really. I have also been very frustrated at times with two of mine who seem soooo unmotivated, but it seemed to work out best when they initiate something rather than when I try and make it happen.

Every kid is different...but I think it's normal for their interests to change or evolve and it's seems like they are universally bad at explaining themselves. Maybe a word in the ear of a teacher he likes or a coach could start something rolling that didn't come from mom so might be better received.

It's so hard to know know what to do sometimes. Sending you mommy good vibes. :flowers::
 

Staci_W

Member
Apr 19, 2013
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Where the grass is greener
You just described all three of my kids. I think its just how kids nowadays are. LAZY. All three of them would be perfectly content to sit alone in their rooms all day watching netflix. It's easier to force the younger ones to do something, but the older they get the harder that is. My oldest will be fourteen in a few weeks. My youngest is nine.

An idea, how about planning family stuff to keep them unplugged. Things such as weekend camping trips.
 

Freckles1

Member
Oct 21, 2013
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My son is 15 and I have seen some of what you describe - hanging out in his room, iPad, computer. My husband and I have decided technology has hampered his social skills. Therefore we have taken all of his electronics, with the exception of his phone. He was not happy. And honestly, I don't really care :0

He is playing baseball, tennis and running cross country. He doesn't have much choice in the matter. We told him to figure it out and he did. He also has to read at least 4 books this summer (only 1 is mandatory for school).

He still has "down time". He is watching tv. But I also notice him going outside shooting baskets and making an effort to see movies with his friends. We will see... It's only June 3!!
 

karman

Crazy Cat Lady
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Aug 19, 2006
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I feel like he has no motivation to do much... what can I do to motivate him to pursue something else? I gave him until the end of the week (end of the school year) to give me a concrete plan because he doesn't follow through; otherwise I will pick an activity for him. Last year he spent the summer going to school for a few hours but he was just hanging around the house eating, texting and going to the mall - that is not going to fly this year.

I feel so sad that I can't just inject him with some energy or passion for something - I know that my love of dance got me through high school.
I'm completely unqualified to give any parenting advice here since I'm only young and married, but take this as my view as someone who was a teenager less than a decade ago with some personal experience.

I played piano for 10 years. It was a choice that I made when I was 6, and I went all the way to Grade 10 piano when I was 16. Most people stop at Grade 8 or 9 and I chose to complete it without going on to study the advanced level. Throughout my journey through the piano curriculum, I struggled at times. I wouldn't practice because I was lazy, and my mom would notice. Rather than force me to practice, she gave me the choice when I was in need of a new piano: either I continue all the way to grade 10 and I get a piano, or I stop now and don't get a piano. I made my own choice; my mom bought me the piano, and I kept my promise. This is slightly different than the situation you're describing (as I already had an activity), but the key here is she gave me the choice. She made me responsible for my own actions. Had she forced me to do it, I probably would have hated piano and resented her for it. At 25, I've now picked up the violin and am loving it. I can't wait to move to a bigger house with my hubby so that I can claim my piano back from my parents. Music was and is a part of my life because I made the choice myself.

I saw a few of my friends through school go through something their parents "chose" for them. Their parents forced them to play an instrument, or play a sport, or volunteer, etc. None of them were happy if they were forced. I think if you were to choose an activity for your son, unless he really loved it himself, he would probably hate it and see it as a chore more than anything.

You said "your love of dance got you through high school"...there's the key. He has to find something that he LOVES and I think the most you can do is encourage him and not force him or choose something for him. It would be a waste of his time and a waste of your time and money.

If all you want him to do is find something to do, could you suggest he look for a job? Maybe money will encourage him to find something to do? I don't know what the minimum age laws are where you are, but my DH started working at 15 and I started working at 16. Even though our jobs weren't "extra cirricular" activities, I learned tons of life skills working at a restaurant, and DH learned a bunch from working in construction. I wouldn't give up my first job for anything; a lot of my personality and soft skills today were developed through my 4 years of restaurant work.
 

flowerboy

O.G.
Jan 30, 2007
638
51
Yeah this sounds normal. Kids don't know how to make friends or to afraid to take initiative. I started hanging out with my ds, doing activities with him and sort of inviting his friends along or force him to invite friends. I believe it comes down to self esteem. Do whatever you can to boost self esteem and allow him to fail but praise him for trying.
 
May 6, 2011
2,602
11
I'm completely unqualified to give any parenting advice here since I'm only young and married, but take this as my view as someone who was a teenager less than a decade ago with some personal experience.

I played piano for 10 years. It was a choice that I made when I was 6, and I went all the way to Grade 10 piano when I was 16. Most people stop at Grade 8 or 9 and I chose to complete it without going on to study the advanced level. Throughout my journey through the piano curriculum, I struggled at times. I wouldn't practice because I was lazy, and my mom would notice. Rather than force me to practice, she gave me the choice when I was in need of a new piano: either I continue all the way to grade 10 and I get a piano, or I stop now and don't get a piano. I made my own choice; my mom bought me the piano, and I kept my promise. This is slightly different than the situation you're describing (as I already had an activity), but the key here is she gave me the choice. She made me responsible for my own actions. Had she forced me to do it, I probably would have hated piano and resented her for it. At 25, I've now picked up the violin and am loving it. I can't wait to move to a bigger house with my hubby so that I can claim my piano back from my parents. Music was and is a part of my life because I made the choice myself.

I saw a few of my friends through school go through something their parents "chose" for them. Their parents forced them to play an instrument, or play a sport, or volunteer, etc. None of them were happy if they were forced. I think if you were to choose an activity for your son, unless he really loved it himself, he would probably hate it and see it as a chore more than anything.

You said "your love of dance got you through high school"...there's the key. He has to find something that he LOVES and I think the most you can do is encourage him and not force him or choose something for him. It would be a waste of his time and a waste of your time and money.

If all you want him to do is find something to do, could you suggest he look for a job? Maybe money will encourage him to find something to do? I don't know what the minimum age laws are where you are, but my DH started working at 15 and I started working at 16. Even though our jobs weren't "extra cirricular" activities, I learned tons of life skills working at a restaurant, and DH learned a bunch from working in construction. I wouldn't give up my first job for anything; a lot of my personality and soft skills today were developed through my 4 years of restaurant work.
Thanks so much for your advice.

My problem with him now is that he doesn't really love anything but laying around listening to music or hanging out in his room. He said he'll try dance or music next semester and meanwhile he will once again have nothing to do all summer. He wanted to just go to summer school and then hang out at the mall with his friends. I want him to take initiative and pick something and see it through. I feel as though I've given him a chance to step up and do something and he has done nothing at all.. which I know he'll regret when he looks back.
 
May 6, 2011
2,602
11
My son is 15 and I have seen some of what you describe - hanging out in his room, iPad, computer. My husband and I have decided technology has hampered his social skills. Therefore we have taken all of his electronics, with the exception of his phone. He was not happy. And honestly, I don't really care :0

He is playing baseball, tennis and running cross country. He doesn't have much choice in the matter. We told him to figure it out and he did. He also has to read at least 4 books this summer (only 1 is mandatory for school).

He still has "down time". He is watching tv. But I also notice him going outside shooting baskets and making an effort to see movies with his friends. We will see... It's only June 3!!
Our biggest problem is that we live in Los Angeles, right in the city. So he will take the bus and go to the park with friends and hang out but I don't want him running around L.A. doing who knows what all summer!
 

karman

Crazy Cat Lady
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Aug 19, 2006
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Thanks so much for your advice.

My problem with him now is that he doesn't really love anything but laying around listening to music or hanging out in his room. He said he'll try dance or music next semester and meanwhile he will once again have nothing to do all summer. He wanted to just go to summer school and then hang out at the mall with his friends. I want him to take initiative and pick something and see it through. I feel as though I've given him a chance to step up and do something and he has done nothing at all.. which I know he'll regret when he looks back.
No problem! Not advice at all but just my young, immature, inexperienced personal point of view :smile:

I think it is a good sign that at least he said he'll try dance or music. At least he is thinking about it. Just to tie in with what a couple of other PFers said about having a family experience together, what about organizing a family outing/activity over the summer that may encourage him to choose dance/music?

Maybe for him, summer is the time to relax and chill with friends. Now that I think about it, summertime was my break from piano time too as I didn't do summer lessons.

There were local summer camps called "Mini University" that I tried to sign up for a few times (but was always too late). They had music, art, sports camps...you name it. My parents put a pamphlet in front of me and asked me to choose something I'd like to do. I also volunteered for local day camps run by our city for a couple summers, which were pretty fun. Basically we had a couple of older kids (in high school, university) who were paid "leaders" and led a group of volunteers who were in middle school and elementary. Parents dropped off their kids in the morning at specified parks around the city, and picked them up at the end of the day. We would give the kids entertainment, like arts and crafts, games, playground time, singing songs, water balloon fights, etc. They were free and very popular, and weather dependent. I had lots of fun volunteering for these summer camps, and it forced me to come out of my shell a little.

Whatever you do, best of luck! I know it must be hard dealing with a teenage child, I have no idea how my parents dealt with me when I was younger!
 

twinkle.tink

Choose to be happy
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Sep 19, 2006
21,304
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in a fairy house
I have 4 kids. Three boys 25, 20 and 13 (14 in a month, ingoing freshman, as well).

I agree that they will all do as little as possible, when allowed. With that said, what works for us is matter of fact rules that include, but not limited to:

They must do some extra curricular sports activity. For DS13 this has been hockey for the last 8 or 9 years, but just came to us after last season with a request to quit. Fine, what are you going to do instead? So now he is going to start a golf. He is doing a summer camp that starts the second week of Summer break through the week before school starts.

They must read everyday.

They all had/have chores; everyone contribute to the family.

They must volunteer. We do things as a family, but both older boys also worked for past teachers and DS13 is starting next school year.

Media time is limited to an hour a day on school days, two hours on non school days. They can earn extra time a variety of ways. Media, phones, cars, etc are a privilege and taken away when needed.

My 25 year old is own his own and pretty self sufficient and actually quite a help to me. The 20 year old works and goes to college. He would love to be out of the house and could handle it, but rents in this area are outrageous.

These are things that really work for us. The volunteering is probably my favorite. It helps others, increases their self esteem, reduces apathy and entitlement and gets them around good role models and new friends.

Good luck :smile:
 

ninakt

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Nov 6, 2011
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I have always hoped that my teens would do
sports, because I have been always worried, what they might do otherwise with too much leisure time.
We also had some trouble last year with our hockey playing son, coach and him suddenly
did not get along, so I got very scared, that he might quit, even hockey is everthing to him.
We decided, it is better he goes to a different team, even it ment, he moved to another city.
He is extremely happy now, also very professionally trained as well, after he moved.
Experienced this, teens do get seasons, that scare a parent. Then it is very important to support and find out, what is going on. ( Ithink with our oldest son there was a season, that got
Me also a bit worried too)
And then to do everything you can to help.
By accusing, anarchy would arise, so I have
tryed to give them freedom and trust them, so far it has been ok. They do know, I have a limit.
You know your child best, there has been some great suggestions about doing things together, no matter how annoying the teen might behave, it still will be important to him.
Moods change a lot, esc. with this hockey son
but I belive it is part of growing up.
Could you find him another team in football?
 

LabelLover81

Peace Love & Purses
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Mar 5, 2010
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I remember the summers I was 14 & 15 the only thing I did was talk on the phone and watch MTV. I think that's the 90s equivalent of what your son is doing. The good news is once I got my drivers license, a little bit of freedom, and a job at 16 I became a lot more active. So perhaps that will happen to him as well.
 
May 6, 2011
2,602
11
Hi guys, thank you all for all your feedback... Things are a bit better.

He is attending summer school and I figured i can give him a break this summer. His grades got better and he's helping more around the house, I hope I can find something for him this summer. The camps he was really excited about are like $3k a week!!!