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Picking and choosing battles is no longer working.

(3 Posts)
TenshiChan Tue 09-Aug-16 09:33:39

Hi! I'm new here, I've been looking for advice forums for a while, so I'm glad to have found this!

I have one child, a son turning 17 this week, and we've always had a close parent-child relationship. The thing is, we have very limited family. I was given to my grandparents when I was a toddler, they are now both deceased, I have no aunts or uncles, nor any siblings. I tried establishing a relationship with my biological mother, however, that only ended in legal issues and an IRS audit. (She stole our Social Security numbers and used them for fraud. For some reason, the burden is on US to prove it was her, and not on the IRS to prove it was me.. I don't know why I expected anything different, she did something similar to my grandparents.)
Either way, his father and I divorced shortly after he was born, and he hasn't any contact with him since. His father even penalized his current step children for being fiends with our son. To say things have been rough would be an understatement, but I make up for it in every way I can. I have a degree, had a very good paying job, provided my son with the most comfortable life I could. We traveled together, I spent time fostering any interests he had like music and sports. I've even took the time to get to know his friends to help create a place where they can hang out and feel comfortable being who they are.
But then I was diagnosed with a degenerative nerve disorder. I lost my job, lost the ability to walk and slowly but surely, I'm losing the ability to even care for myself, let alone a teenager. The US doesn't have a very good safety net, despite me working since the day I was legally able to, paying for my own college and "doing everything the right way", we were still told No by the Social Security Disability Administration, because according to the judge "my race can't be trusted, so regardless of what his own medical examiner says, he will never approve some one of my race". (And according to the SSDA, he is "well within his rights to decide that" and there is no recourse)
So, things are hard, and we're basically trying to survive as long as possible off my savings and retirement. I cut him a TON of slack because I understand this isn't the average situation, and I understand being a teen is hard enough without worrying about your only parent dying, or having a roof over your head, etc. And he's not rude, doesn't do drugs or drink, doesn't get in trouble with the law, etc. So where is the issue you may be wondering?
Since he was 11, he's had 2 chores he has to do, and I explained why he has to do them; To learn how to do these things while he has help, so he can do them when he lives alone. When he was younger it was vacuum and help with the laundry, then it moved to take out the trash and do dishes. And there is the stand still. He did those chores for a while, but now that I'm getting worse, he's come out and said "If you can't do it, why should I?" He knows I can't follow him when he takes his laptop into his room and ignores me. He knows that I can't reach the sink, nor can I navigate with the trash, I can't reach the knobs on the washer anymore, and it all frustrates me. It frustrates me to no end that he refuses to help at all, he refuses to do any chores claiming he won't do any until I can do them again. He gets upset when he sees me crying in frustration about everything going on, so I know it's not just him being heartless, but I just don't know how to motivate him to help. I can't afford to spend what little I have left to hire a housekeeper, and I don't think I should have to.

Any suggestions on how to fix this? (And yes, I have sat down and asked him directly, what will motivate him, and he said "I don't know". Also, his grades tanked this year, but I'm hoping it's just the impact of everything going on and him attending a school he didn't like. He's registered for a new school this year, so I'm hoping that helps.)
Thank you and sorry this is so long!

musicposy Tue 09-Aug-16 10:09:26

Gosh, you have so much on your plate flowers

What does he say if you ask, well who is going to do these things then? Does he mind clothes which are never washed? Or if you explain that paying a housekeeper will leave no money for X y or z and possibly very little for food?

It doesn't sound from your post as though he has any more to do than the average teenager - mine have to wash/ wipe up, help with laundry and run the Hoover round now and then. However, it does sound as though he feels as though he has the whole burden of running the household (teens frequently underestimate the huge range of things that go into running a house) and it's difficult if he is worried about you and his home situation on top (worry about you does not often manifest in teens as helping more!).

If mine start moaning about chores they don't get lifts to places (I threaten this fairly often and they know I mean it). But it sounds harder for you because it sounds as though you have less bargaining power. You maybe need to point out all the things he is getting. Is there anything you still do/ provide for him other than the roof over his head? Cooking? Pocket money? Lifts? Internet connection? Can you point out everything you have provided and still do (even if through your savings, you've got that through past hard work)? I also think that if paying for a housekeeper would mean you couldn't afford Internet wink I think that would motivate most teens!

I feel I don't have much help to offer as your situation sounds really hard. I was utterly shock that they are allowed to discriminate on race for your social security - that's just appalling. So, in short, can't offer much advice other than to keep talking to him and trying to get through, but wanted to at least offer support cake brew

GetMeOut Tue 09-Aug-16 14:14:08

Hi, this sounds a very difficult situation for you both flowers
My suggestions are very minor and may be totally impractical.,,,,
Could you do chores together and almost make a game of it ? ( inside a teenager can still be found a toddler, sometimes ....) e.g messing around with underpants on head, having a game of throwing things into the washer - most in wins ( most males can't resist a competition - sexist I know ). Having a competition over anything really :-)
His response at the moment his probably a way of ignoring the situation and his way of coping.
I hope things improve for you both.

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