Totally unmotivated 18 year old(16 Posts)
DS1 left school yesterday. A grammar school to be precise where he was in top sets for the first few years. Then began a steady decline and a lack of interest in most subjects. He did so badly in 2 of his AS subjects that he wasn't allowed to continue them to A2. So he's currently doing 2 A2s and another AS. His exams aren't going particularly well. He says he revises but he certainly doesn't appear to me to do much (nowhere near as much as his brother who is doing GCSEs). He isn't going to get enough points for Uni - doesn't want to go anyway. Nor do I want to fund further education for such a disengaged young man.
The question is, what to do next. He has made no effort to look at courses, apply for jobs or anything. Do I continue to sit on my hands and say, "over to you son, you're the adult". Or do I take him by the scruff and march him off to the job centre etc?
Trouble is, he has a nice bedroom, is allowed to have his girlfriend stay over and has a couple of grand in the bank (another story - courtesy of a ridiculously misguided grandma). So no real motivation to do anything at the moment. He won't engage in discussions with me about what he might do so I'm at a complete loss as to how to motivate him. His girlfriend is on course for straight As and uni and his brother is shaping up to get an excellent set of GCSEs so it's not as if he's surrounded by other unmotivated teenagers.
Any advice anyone?!
He could start handing over some of his money for board and lodgings.
Maybe when he sees that dwindling away, he might think about future employment.
Definitely start charging him for bed & board. All throughout my teenage years I remember my mum telling me and my siblings that as soon as we hit 16 it was either stay in full-time education or get out there and get a job. Even though I stayed in education I still paid her through EMA and my brothers paid through job earnings. We hated it at the time but thank God she was strong enough to make her point.
Yep, charge him rent. Stop doing stuff for him too.
With DS1 he understood that his lovely life was paid for by him doing hs job - working hard, getting the best results he could and contributing to family life by cooking and cleaning etc.
What does he do around the house? What is expected of him. How often is hs girlfriend staying in the 'lovely bedroom' which hopefully he keeps clean and tidy.
I inherited £2000 at 18 and didn't spend it until I was 22 and married. It and a similar sum DH had allowed us to finish our studies without debt. and start saving for our first house.
So it's not money that's the problem, it's attitude and there I can't help you.
Please be careful about comparing him with his older brother though.
If he feels like he will never be as good as his brother - that, in itself, can be quite demotivating.
It's his younger brother and I try not to make comparisons - but it's difficult. Trouble is, the £2k he has was a birthday gift from my MIL - I don't feel I can start taking that off him by way of rent.
This is quite common, I think. I'm just coming out of a truly awful 2-3 years with my own DS1, who disengaged almost completely.
IMO, it happens if/when schools offer nothing that engages and enthuses young people. It seems to me to be a particular problem for creative, bright kids who learn best through doing rather than sitting still and listening. They get used to being bored and they are expected to tolerate it rather than do something about it. So they are effectively taught to disengage and be passive, and they come to believe that learning is boring and not for them.
I think bright kids are particularly confused by this, because on the one hand they know they're bright, but on the other hand they just can't sit still, listen and be satisfied with
all that boring drivel their school experience... and they know they're disappointing people too. It's v bad for their self-confidence.
IME, they need to find something that inspires them or 'hooks' their attention. It doesn't matter what that is - anything that engages them is good. They can then un-learn the habits of switching off and tolerating boredom and doing nothing... And once they've re-learned how to be interested and engaged, they regain their motivation to achieve.
In our case, cutting off DS's money went hand-in-hand with further problems (incl. drug use and theft). It's impossible to say which came first, but money or lack of it was no part of the solution. Threatening to throw him out, and meaning it, got him back into college - which was definitely preferable to having him sitting around on the dole. But what finally changed things was when he got a place on a course he had actually chosen, doing something he liked - and it was (is) a BTEC - so he's learning practical skills and taking on real projects. This time last year he had narrowly avoided getting thrown out of a level 1 course and was planning a life on the dole. This year, he is doing well on a level 3 course, talking about uni, and has taken on a volunteer role putting his course skills into practice and getting relevant work experience for an extra 10-15 hours per week.
I'm getting a bit waffly, so I'll stop! The headlines are...
Help him find something he WANTS to do, and
There IS hope!
Well, if he gets a job, he won't have to use his savings to pay his rent. Just like the rest of us.
Savoy - as I said, the £2k isn't money he's saved, it's money his grandma gave him for his 18th. Money intended to go towards something like driving lessons and a small car. I don't think she'd be too pleased if I started taking it off him as rent - especially as he's still doing exams!!
Flow - that's really helpful thank you. He's been telling me for years that school is boring and he found it really hard to find any subjects he could tolerate, never mind enjoy, at A level. I'm hoping he's going to be like his dad who was just the same at school, left with minimal qualifications but has been very successful in his working life. DS has the same interpersonal skills and likeable personality. But I know it's much harder these days to get on without qualifications behind you,
I know it's a real watershed moment for him leaving school and I've no doubt he will be scared about what the future holds for him - especially when most of his mates are sorted with uni etc. So I'm going to give him a few months before I start getting too heavy with him. He is into a particular sport and has qualified as a coach this year so I'm hoping that might lead to some part time work.
I also thought if he applied for job-seekers' allowance they might get on his case about applying for things?
There is no JSA for him if he has a place at college next year; students aren't entitled to claim most benefits, unless they are parents themselves or in other exceptional circumstances. If he hasn't got a college place, then he can claim income-based JSA (providing he is over 18; there is no JSA for 16/17 yos), which is currently something like £56/week. He has to be actively seeking work...
But - crucially - if he claims JSA, then you will lose the child benefit you get for him, and any tax credits you might get. In my case, it would have meant less money coming in, and transferred £56 of the 'family income' directly to him, rather than it coming to me, despite the fact he was living at home. That seemed like a very bad option to me!
This is a very useful summary of YP's benefit entitlements. I think it's still current.
I assumed child benefit would stop soon anyway? He was 18 in November last year, officially left school last week (apart from going in for exams) and has nothing planned. We don't get any tax credits.
I must admit I'm in two minds about him getting JSA. £56 a week would be the icing on the cake for him but, if I understand it correctly, he has to demonstrate that he is actively seeking work which might be a good thing as it would be someone else nagging him not me! Part of me also hopes they might push him into something he hates which could act as an incentive to be more proactive himself! Thanks for the link - I'll have a good look at it (I hate saying that because it should be HIM looking at it!)
If he's in F/T education, CB will carry on until the end of the educational year in which he turns 19. But as you say, he has nothing planned. Under those circumstances, I think I would be inclined to let him know now that you expect him to get a job, enroll for a course or sign on within a fortnight of his last exam, and that you will be charging him £35/wk if he isn't in full-time education.
He will need to apply for a certain number of jobs per week (I think it's 5) and register with the new government online job application website to do it. Those applications don't have to reach any kind of 'quality' threshold.
If he gets some p/t work (as a sports coach or anything else) he'll lose most of his JSA - it's stopped pound-for-pound apart from the first £5.
If he gets JSA don't let him keep the lot, charge bed and board.
Join the discussion
Please login first.