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Customer Discussions > Parenting forum

My son cannot hold down a job and he acts like he is 12. HELP!!!

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Showing 1-25 of 65 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 7, 2009 3:04:21 PM PST
Sandstorm says:
My son is 22 today. Since graduating from high school he has had and lost atleast 20 jobs. The longest being about 3 months. On average he lasts about 3 weeks. We have tried kicking him out. He has lived with and burned every bridge out there, so now we are his last resort. He has been back with us for 2 months. He has had and lost 3 jobs in that time. He lies and tells stories. We do not believe anything that he tells us. I don't know if he has some sort of mental disorder, but he truly acts like he is 12. He lives in a fantasy land where he thinks he will someday be a rockstar. He watches cartoons and plays video games. Does anyone out there have ANY kind of advice. I just want him to move out and be a productive adult!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2009 3:42:06 PM PST
Fighter Mom says:
My son is 20 and will be coming home this Sunday from his third time in rehab. He has been doing many of the same things that you describe. He is very smart but failed many classes in high school and graduated three months late. He has ADHD (was diagnosed at 16) although he will only say he has anxiety issues. He began using tobacco in high school and just after HS became addicted to prescription painkillers. We did not know about that for a long time. My advise is to have your son evaluated by a qualified psychologist/psychiatrist. Something is wrong. You just have to help your son face whatever it is and begin trying to fix it.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 9, 2009 10:18:16 AM PST
Monos Deja says:
LOL, step-son, he quit along with his father good paying jobs to follow their "DREAMS", can't say why but neither can either, now they are in trouble, lost one vehicle, i have seen this happen with men/boys lately they just stop working expect others to take care of them, he knows the place where i live is not for him, he is old enough to take care of himself, i guess, assume, the schooling, following his father etc has influenced him to assue others will give him what he wants on a silver platter

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 9, 2009 11:20:56 AM PST
Tim says:
Maybe your son has a mental disorder, maybe he is just struggling with motivation. I would set a limit with him that he could live with me only if he gets into counseling. I would give him 3 phone numbers of local mental health providers. Maybe you could even attend a family consultation with your son and ask a psychologist for evaluation....

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 9, 2009 12:55:07 PM PST
debbie68 says:
I have a son who just turned 23 this month. He has had many jobs as well, none of them lasting longer than 3 months. He even joined the Army last year and quit after 4 weeks....yes they let you quit. Now he is trying to get back into the Army because he can't find a job....but he doesn't really look for one either. I have come to the conclusion that he is looking for the easy way out....someone to take care of him. I guess he figures if I won't then the Army will? I don't know....but what I do know is he has cost me almost everything. He moved to Florida for 2 months this year and in the short time he was there managed to get into trouble. That has cost me $15,000.00 and no he still doesn't look for a job to help pay back the money. I think he thinks I owe him. His excuse is that there is no jobs. I am sorry but I am sure there is a job somewhere....anywhere. It's just excuses. He would rather sleep all day and run all night doing whatever. I don't know what the problem is but I do know from this point I am at the end of my rope and finances to no longer care....maybe I should have gotten there a long time ago.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2009 11:37:48 AM PST
I had similar issues with my son and finally got him through it, today's he's a successful video game designer, something I never thought he could do since he has ADD and is very dyslexic. Sounds like your son is an Indigo, this website will have information and characteristics of this generation, it may be helpful. It's at, go to the Today's Children link. And if your son has such an interest in video games, have him try a program at a local technical school.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2009 2:01:20 PM PST
E. Jensen says:
I definitely agree with having your son see a licensed mental health professional. This would at least rule out any very serious psychiatric disorders that could easily be overlooked by family. It concerns me whether he believes his lies, or if he just tells lies in the hopes that you will believe him and let him off the hook.
Next, I would say, given that your son is now 22, you have to allow him to make his own mistakes. This is the only way he can learn from them and move on to being the person he wants to be. If he knows that he can always fall back on you and your family, he will not take risks and become independent. Allow your son to fail. If he does, make sure he knows it is his responsibility to fix it. This may seem like tough love, but when a child is refusing to grow up on his own, he may need to be pushed. You may think you are pushing him by what you are already telling him, but if you keep letting him come back home, the message he gets is mixed and unclear. Remember, actions speak louder than words.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2009 4:47:32 PM PST
20 jobs? I'm 22 myself and moved out of my parents over a year ago. I can relate to your son in several ways through his hobbies, hell I watch cartoon more than anyone I know. When your son moved out, does he live with friends or by himself? One thing you might want to do is help him to go to school for music. If he refuses to better himself help him get a one bedroom apartment, make sure its government housing so he should not need a co-signer. If he lives on his own and gets a job he has no choice but to take care of it.

Posted on Feb 5, 2009 12:54:00 PM PST
anonymous says:
As the parent maybe you can unplug the tv or take away the video game console. Did you teach him about saving money/responsiblity/definition of adulthood/consequences. What consequences has he received for losing his jobs or living at home? Behaviors exist because they are reinforced. As far as living in a fantasy land how much time does he spend or did you allow him to spend with technology while growing up and now? Until there is a real consequence nothing will change and why would it? It's the whole system around him not just him that may be reinforcing this behavior. Focus on character building before labeling him with a mental disorder. What disorder are you thinking he has?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 9, 2009 9:16:23 PM PST
i think you have to take your son to someone that is specialise in the area that is affecting him and let be honest about the reason/s why he behaves like that.Take your son for thorough counselling and know what is the cause of his dysfunctional behaviour.And what steps to take to put him back on the right track.Do not also overrule his words or passion of becoming a rockstar.I strongly believed that he has a gift like everybody out there.If he is willing to get the help then cool but if he does not want to get help[while disciplinimg him], to intervene in your son's life.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2009 7:42:26 AM PST
Toby says:
It would be best if your son could be evaluated by a competent psychologist and some intensive counseling. I would not be surprised if medications are in order. I can almost guess the diagnosis: Bi-Polar disorder.
But please don't buy into the Indigo garbage which you may have read. According to the indigo gurus your son is actually a wise star child with confused parents.

Posted on Feb 10, 2009 4:32:32 PM PST
mhs says:
I have 3 adult sons. They were all a irresponsible at different times and to varying degrees through their 20's. I didn't worry too much about it. The human brain is not fully formed until about age 30. I guess I thought it is better to 'sew your oats' while your young and single then to stifle it until your 40. Remember all the stories about middle aged men who devorce their wives, leave their kids, buy a corvette and run off with a 20 year old? Ever wonder why they do that? Everyone grows differently. True your son might have some mental disorder but I would be more inclined to think it's an 'age disorder'. Or that he is addicted or working on getting adicted to drugs. You could go talk to some professional but you can bet they will tell you he needs years of expensive counselling (that is how they earn their living after all) and you go further into debt paying for it while your son continues to take you for a ride until he grows up. My youngest son had been diagnosed with various disorders in school (just depended on who did the test) and later got addicted to drugs. There really was nothing I could do about it with out his cooperation. He was an adult. I can't tell you what to do, but I can tell you what I did. Nothing. He was not allowed to live at home. I was always there to listen and offer love but I did not pay his bills or shelter him in any way from the consequences of his decisions. He even had to live in a mission for a while. I didn't like it but I sure didn't go 'save him'. It didn't hurt him as much as it would of hurt him to not learn to be responsible. I treated him like an adult. I did worry alot but that's my job. By the time he was 25-26 he started coming around and now at age 27 he has held the same job for 2 years and has nearly paid off all his debts (still owes about 2000.00) and put himself into counselling. Granted things could of turned out differently. He could of gotten killed somewhere along the line I guess. But that could happen to any of us at any time anyway. My neighbors have 2 unemployed sons both in their mid 30's who are still living at home with their loving helpful parents. They are completely unequipped to function in the world. Everytime I look over there I thank God I was not a 'protective' parent. Some fates are worse then death.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2009 2:38:50 PM PST
Mother Hen says:
Jennifer A. Hoffman said: "Sounds like your son is an Indigo, this website will have information and characteristics of this generation, it may be helpful. It's at, go to the Today's Children link."
You know, I like it when people serve up their nonsense without all the window-dressing designed to try to make it look mainstream. I took a moment to look up the link you provided, and hit the mother lode of psychic, voodoo hooey.

Crystals? Indigos? Spiritual consultations and karmic path readings!! Oh, and let's not forget the the Archangel Uriel's predictions for 2009!

If your son has overcome learning disabilities and employment difficulties, it is in spite of all the new-age mysticism you've foisted on him, not because of it.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2009 7:55:19 PM PST
Gail says:
Bravo mhs!!! More parents like you would contribute to a better world. I fear this generation of quasi-parents is raising kids destined to become 30 year old permanet houseguests! I work as a counselor/therapist with families.....I see parents few visits and lay this out straight to them. I get a much more limited income : > )) but have excellent results!
Oh, and I refuse to diagnose these grown children. I do offer the parent support as it may be difficult in short run when their children are given limits and boudaries but I make it clear these are hard pieces of parenting. But their opportunity to coddle has expired. Cut the cord and let little 18 plus year old joey or Sue sink or swim. Seldom has a death taken place unless it is a case of severe addiction causing the issue. They will face death for certain if they continue to help an addicted child be a house guest. Showing them the door and changing the locks will be the most life saving thing they can do for their child.Also compassionate and truly healthy. Thanks for your post

Posted on Feb 15, 2009 12:25:23 PM PST
H. Hardwick says:
I have to ask... if he's old enough to vote, why are you making this your problem?

1) Tell him he's an adult and if he's not helping you, he's hurting you.
2) Set a date you can stick to as a move out date.
3) Stick to it!
4) In the meantime, because you're his Mom and you love him, take some time every day to go over things like balancing a checkbook, entering in to binding contracts, grocery shopping, etc. You will also have the peace of mind knowing you tried. If it doesn't work, it's not your fault. It's his. And, it's ok to let him make his own mistakes as he finds his own way.

When you stop enabling him by allowing him to lie around playing video games, he'll do it. In other words, you are allowing him to make the easiest choice. Don't be like one of those pathetic people who think teaching their dog to walk on a leash is cruel, or that teaching a toddler to say "thank you" is too early, or that insisting upon good manners later even when it's not convenient is too hard.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 21, 2009 12:10:16 PM PST
Simka says:
My brother was like your son at that age. What he really needed was the love and support of his parents. I suggest you help him and love him unconditionally. Maybe he will even start confiding in you after a while. He will get out of this in the end - my brother is now married with a child and a great job and he's really happy. He lived with my parents until he was 26 (after they kicked him out at 16). Kicking out a child is never a good solution. Be kind and be a friend.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 21, 2009 12:54:50 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 21, 2009 7:27:23 PM PST
It sounds like your problem is that your son knows that he has a "safety net" Why should he begin acting responsibly, when he can continue to engage in his fantasies, watch cartoons and play videogames secure in the knowledge that you won't allow him to experience the true consequences of his choices. I would encourage you to sit down with him, review his history over the past 3 or 4 years, and make it clear that you have reached the end of this road. Let him know that it is time for him to move into adulthood and that you will support him in this as long as he is demonstrably moving in a positive and productive direction. In an effort to assist him in this, advise him that you have set a date, say 4 to 6 weeks down the road, where he will be moving out of your house. Assure him that you will help him securing fulltime employment and a place of his own. But reinforce the fact that he will be moving out on his own in 4 to 6 weeks and that he will not be permitted to return under any circumstances.

Posted on Mar 12, 2009 7:45:52 AM PDT
P. E. Hay says:
Take him to a mental health professional, stat. If it turns out he just likes living at home, kick him out. Hardship and hunger are good motivators and build character. That may sound harsh and I wouldn't recommend it for a teenager, but 22? C'mon.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 12, 2009 7:54:24 AM PDT
Hot Hands says:
Helpless in Utah,
Oh my, I feel for you, and don't ya wanna cry every time someone else says "My kids are great....bla bla bla".

I think YOU should start with some sort of therapy/counseling and learn to set some, yes you can live here, and we will help you IF you hold down a job, IF you keep the house clean, IF whatever you feel he needs to do....because if you are willing to feed me and pay all the bills while I sit around and play video games, I'd stick around fact I can pack my bags and move in any time....

I seem to have run into quite a few parents who ae going through similar things with their 20ish age kids, and like you they love and want to help them, but are conflicted. See a therapist, worry about YOU first, then you can set boundaries and let him worry about him, because he may have to leave, and become an adult....but if you are enabling him he probably won't move too fast.

There is always the military........

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2009 9:48:19 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 18, 2009 9:49:35 PM PDT
CJVR says:
Give him a date to move out, 1 month - 3 months probably. 6 months is so far off he might put saving off till the last minute. He'll have to have money saved to move out with NO help from you. If he has to sleep on your doorstep for some nights, it won't be the worst thing in his life. Once he KNOWS he HAS to make it on his own, he will. He sounds like he likes a comfortable life. If he's the only one that's going to do it for him, he will.
The longer you let him sponge off of you, the harder that habit is going to be to break. By letting him sponge off of you you are crippling him.
Put a lock box on the videos and TV if you have to.
If he is determined to stay with you, you HAVE to charge him a reasonable rent. Reasonable means the amount it would cost him somewhere else to have room and board.
Whatever you do, once he is out, DO NOT LET HIM MOVE BACK IN. The more you cave in and are not consistent, it makes it even harder to break his type of cycle.
When you want to cave in, ask yourself, "What is the worst that is going to happen here?" For instance, if he blows off getting an apartment, planning on your "generosity" and his charm to get him back into your good graces and back into what WAS his bedroom in your house, and he sleeps in the hammock in your back yard for a few nights, what's the harm? Don't let him in the house in the morning either. Change the locks if he has a key. Call the police if he breaks in.
You are doing him no good by babying him and crippling his ability to stand on his own two feet. What kind of life will he have if he continues to live off of you? He will gain self-confidence on his own and he will make it. But you HAVE to stay out of it! Don't lend him money, don't sneak him money behind your spouse's back. If you want to invite him over for dinner AFTER he has his own place and has held it down on his own for a couple of months, then that's fine. But don't give him the idea in any way shape or form that you are going to pick up the pieces for him.
This advice MAY seem cold, but it's just reality. People call it "tough" love, but it's "real" love. It's forcing him to live in the "real" world. You do him no favors by allowing him to live in a fantasy world. Who's going to take care of him in your old age? You don't want him to be a 60 -year-old dependent "baby", right?
Part of why you take care of him is that it makes you feel good to take care of him. Stop making yourself feel good at his expense. Push him out of the nest and allow him to grow his wings.
And, lastly, but not least, pray for him lots: when you wake up, during the day, during the evening, before you close your eyes.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2009 9:55:13 PM PDT
CJVR says:
And, IF there is a substance abuse problem, drugs, alcohol, head to Al-Anon. You can look the meetings up online. They helped me IMMENSELY! It was the best part of my week! Contrary to some peoples' popular belief, people don't pour out their problems in these meetings. They are actually happy places. If you don't like one meeting, try another. There are different formats and different people in each. If you can make it to a daytime meeting where there are lots of old people, especially women, GO. Old women are full of experience and motherly love. Don't be afraid to go. You'll be glad you did. They will help you deal with your enabler attitude :)

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2009 9:55:53 PM PDT
CJVR says:
Well said, PEHay.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2009 9:56:37 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 18, 2009 10:00:09 PM PDT
CJVR says:
He's not a child. He's 22!
In my neighborhood there is a 39 year old who never moved out and hangs out on the computer "looking for a job" while his mom still works and is in her 60's. His dad is retired. There is another guy who used to live with his dad and step-mom off and on, except when he was in jail or prison. They moved out of the neighborhood when his dad retired, but last we heard he had moved in with them for another stint, until they kicked him out and he moved in with his mother. He is friends with the 39-year old mentioned above. Another guy is 22 and smokes pot on his parents' roof and jumps naked on the neighbor's trampoline in the middle of the night some times.

Posted on Mar 19, 2009 10:24:08 AM PDT
I agree with the advice to seek the help of a good mental health professional. But please know that there is much variability among therapists, and not all are trained/able to detect underlying brain disorders such as ADHD or bi-polar disorder. It is imperative that you educate yourself first so you can make a wise selection.

I doubt that your son suddenly developed this problem. It's probably been there all along. You might also want to ask yourself why you or your spouse did not see this problem earlier. Because both ADHD and bi-polar disorder are highly genetic, it could be that one of your child's parents has the same condition, so you just accepted it as "family trait" or something.

Kicking out of the house a child who has a brain disorder seldom will come to a good end.

Good luck,
Gina Pera, author
Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 20, 2009 11:09:08 AM PDT
P. E. Hay says:
I don't think it's wise to diagnose people through the internet. This person has a serious problem on their hands regardless of whether it's an adult child with a mental health issue or simply a complete and total lack of motivation. Coming in to push your book, website, and agenda is as helpful as saying unequivocally 'kick him out'. Even if he does have a debilitating disorder, he is poorly served by merely existing in his parent's metaphorical basement and not seeking treatment.
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Discussion in:  Parenting forum
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Initial post:  Jan 7, 2009
Latest post:  Feb 12, 2012

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