Reader Question – Help! My Kids Don’t Respect Me!

I have two boys 13 and 15 years old. My older son doesn’t have any motivation to study or do anything that can develop him mentally or physically like reading or doing sport. He is just lazy, he wants only to watch tv or use his phone to chat with his friends. I took his phone and I don’t allow to play video games anymore as his teachers complained about him.

I’m an immigrant and we don’t have a family here and we don’t have friends who have kids in his age. He was responsible when he was younger and I was always encouraging him. He used to take care of his siblings if I went out but since he was young, he didn’t want to study unless I sit with him and follow him. I stopped this two years ago because I wanted him to be accountable and responsible but I still ask him if he needs help but he always says no.

It doesn’t matter how many time I guide, teach or talk to them. They just ignore and don’t do anything I ask them to do. I’m so frustrated and lost. My younger son has a great temptation to lying and covering truth. I talked to him many times but as I said it doesn’t matter. They pretend to listen and then ignore as you never said anything. Please help.

-Anonymous

Dear Anonymous –

You have managed a great many hard things and I have faith that you can manage this as well. Your boys are behaving in ways that are pretty normal, but you’re right – it’s not acceptable.

Taking their phones and video games and other privileges is a good start, as long as you make it clear what they need to do to earn those back, even for short periods of time.

It sounds like your oldest son may have some learning challenges, and have become really discouraged about his ability to be successful in school. It can be much easier for a teenager to fail because they don’t try than to keep trying and fail anyway. I hope that you can get the school involved and maybe get him tested to see if he has any documentable learning need.

Your younger son is probably copying what he sees – it looks easier than doing the work, right? It’s time to sit down with them, be really clear about what you will and won’t do for them until they start doing as they are asked. As an example, you may continue to provide food, but won’t cook meals until they help. You will probably still buy them the clothes they need, but nothing extra. Take them to school but no where else. Go to your church or mosque but not to the movies, etc, until they start to contribute.

Be really clear with your sons what you need to teach them and why. That will help you stay motivated to stick to your rules, and help them learn what they need to in order to be adults you can admire. It won’t be quick. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. If they’re pushing back, you know they’re starting to believe you.

Be sure to join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter where I tackle all of your parenting questions.

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