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My son wants to be a loser

Posted by on Dec. 17, 2008 at 9:13 AM
  • 17 Replies



Question: Should we exert control and treat him like he's in boot camp?


Yes, he's obviously incapable of making his own decisions.

No, he'll figure things out on his own eventually.

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Total Votes: 48

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I have the most frustrating siutation going on in my family. My son who is 13 and has several emotional problems wants to be a loser now and when he grows up. He has no motivation, no drive, no ambition and he says he doesn't care if he fails in school. He hides his homework and passes in incomplete projects on purpose and doesn't want to follow directions in school in order to succeed. I am at my wit's end. He says when he grows up he wants to be a bum and collect cans for a living. What am I to do? He is so dysfunctional that he refuses to wear clean underwear and clean socks. He also admits that he's extremely lazy. My husband and I disagree on what to do with him. My husband thinks he should be policed and made to wear clean underwear and made to brush his teeth and to treat him like he's in boot camp. I think we should advise him and teach him and let him make his own decisions and that means that at 13 if he wishes to wear dirty underwear then so be it. I think that at some point we have to get him to want to be better and we can't do that by policing him and controllling his every move. What do you think? How do you deal with a child who wants to be dysfunctional and even so lazy they cant' wear clean underwear? Do  you become overly controlling or do you have to let him go? How can you inspire a child to want to succeed when they have given up and have succumbed to being a loser?

by on Dec. 17, 2008 at 9:13 AM
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Replies (1-10):
by on Dec. 17, 2008 at 9:16 AM

You should definatly be controlling him and his every move. He'll hate it and eventually start to be responsible on his own. If that means that one of you follow his every move then that's how it should be. By letting him make his own-wrong-decisions will teach him no responsibility... IMO

by on Dec. 17, 2008 at 9:16 AM

is there some underline problem you and DH may not know about? He may be reaching out for some help. I pray you find a way to deal with him. Just reassure him with love and talk with him.

by on Dec. 17, 2008 at 9:16 AM

This sounds like depression to me. 

by on Dec. 17, 2008 at 9:17 AM

My son had some of these issues too. We tried both ways niether works. We Sent him to live with a relative and to a school where they are regulated closer. As far as the underware go do some research on the deseases that are involved and have him help. Maybe he will want to change after that. Good Luck!

by on Dec. 17, 2008 at 9:18 AM

My brother was just like this when we were younger, my parent's "policed" him...Its called tough love, he will appreciate it later...

by on Dec. 17, 2008 at 9:18 AM

Have you thougt about putting him into counseling? That might help with his emotional issues and help him learn to be all he can be. I know you don't want your son to fail, and you seem like a very caring momma who just wants the very best for her son. It's hard when a child doesn't want to be involved in their own future, and I really think he needs some help to become a successful adult. About the policing part, in some ways it could push him further away, and in others it just might be the swift kick in the pants he needs. I would start with some counseling though. Good luck hun, and I hope things get easier for both you and your son.

by on Dec. 17, 2008 at 9:23 AM

Sounds like an excuse to me. I would definatly let DH start boot camp for him. The first thing I would do it completely clear out his room of everything, for him. Even the bed. If he wants the "real" feeling of being a bum. Let him know what a true bum does. Make him earn it back. He cares, he is just trying to see how far he can push you. Oh and since he doesn't believe. Let him open Xmas presents, take them away to earn back also.

by on Dec. 17, 2008 at 9:26 AM

I think you should get him to a doctor and a therapist,  He clearly has some emotional/mental health issues. He sounds depressed, which puts him at a high risk for suicide

These stories can have tragic endings. I beg you to get him professional help.  He could have a mood disorder (depression, bipolar).  These things are treated very successfully with medication. behavior modification and therapy.  I BEG you to get him professional help, before you walk into his bedroom one morning and find that he has killed himself.  Sorry to sound harsh or cold (I'm not) but I just don't think you realize the severity of the situation


by on Dec. 17, 2008 at 9:27 AM

It sounds like theres a huge underlying issue.  He clearly has self esteem issues.  Nobody truely wants to be a bum or walk around in dirty underwear, especially a 13 year old, unless they think its all they deserve.  As for hiding his homework and saying he doesn't care if he fails in it possible he has a learning disability?  Or maybe he is just frustrated and finds school difficult, so he decides not to try rather than give all his effort and still fail.  Or maybe he is just lazy like you said!  But I think before I started treating him like hes in boot camp, I would make sure theres no underlying issue and that he truely is just lazy.  However, I don't think forcing him to wear clean underwear is being too controlling. 

by on Dec. 17, 2008 at 9:30 AM

I didn't vote - because I think there is a lot of middle ground.

My advice is to pick your battles, and get family counseling. 

Too much "control" and a child will break down under the pressure.  Too little parental involvement, and a child will also suffer.  No offense, but no one on cafemom can see exactly what goes in your house like you and your husband and son can, and you obviously need help reconciling your different views on him.  A professional therapist can talk to each of you about specifics and get your son's true viewpoint as well (without the teenaged sarcasm that's often reserved for Mom and Dad).  Your son might even be battling against a neurological condition (like ADD) that you are both unaware of and need to be helping him overcome.  Above all - your  husband and you need to be on the same page.  Kids that age know how to play you against eachother to distract you from the real issue.  Don't let that happen.

I have used both your methods (policing and natural consequences) on my kids at different times - you have to look at the consequences in order to pick your battles.  For me, school and health are a kid's number one priority.  I'd be policing on bedtime, eating, homework, and school.  Even if that means sitting down with him while he does homework and escorting the papers to his teacher with him.  The socks and underwear thing - I'd go with natural consequences.  When no one wants to be around him because he begins to smell ripe - he'll figure it out.

Good luck with him and peace,


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