How to Deal With a Son Who Won't Go to School or Get a Job

by Contributor

Motivating your child to live up to his potential is much tougher than it looks on television. In the real world, short pep talks and endless praise won’t get the job done. It can be extremely difficult when your son is resistant to going to school or getting a job. While you may even empathize with his reasoning, allowing him to stay inactive can ruin his self-confidence and ability to set and reach goals. Give him the boost he needs instead of making excuses for his circumstances.

Confront your feelings about his behavior. While it can be difficult to reflect on uncomfortable subjects, failing to do so can make you more willing to just accept his actions. Gather your confidence before approaching your son to avoid letting your fears drive you to remain silent. Writing your feelings down in a journal can help you organize your thoughts, which increases the likelihood that you’ll actually address your feelings.

Ask him about his intentions. Ask probing questions such as where he sees himself in five years or if he wants to have a family. Inquire about any barriers he may have to securing employment or higher education. Listen intently to uncover any fears he may have about “leaving the nest." You may find that he simply needs a confidence boost or help with networking.

Express your expectations. Stay direct with your son to avoid creating a false sense of security about his future. Explain that it’s not acceptable for him to not go to school or get a job. Tell him that although making his own way can be tough, he is capable. Letting your son think that you’ll always support him financially can reduce his desire for independence.

Create a sense of urgency. Understand that simply getting your son to listen or even agree with your wishes isn’t enough. Allowing your son to remain stagnant isn’t helping him reach his potential. Give him specific milestones that need to be achieved within a specific time so that you can monitor his progress. Following up with him is essential to building his self-confidence and reinforcing your seriousness.

Exercise tough love when met with resistance. Although it can difficult to play hardball with your son, failing to take a firm stance will make him indifferent about your empty requests. Understand the difference between being supportive and being a doormat. Learning to offer encouragement without becoming an enabler is essential. Examples of effective support include offering to assist with filling out college applications or proofreading his resume.

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  • Getting others involved in your mission can make your son more compliant with your demands.
  • Talking about your own personal struggles may give your son the inspiration he needs to better his own situation.
  • Seeking counseling from a professional can help you sort through your own issues before you confront your son about his problems. It can also give you the support you need while you're making a stand with your son.

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