When kids don't leave home

It’s become a nightmare – your sweet kid has morphed into a couch-hugging 20-year-old with no immediate plans to get a job. Your kid doesn’t do dishes, doesn’t take out the trash, doesn’t run errands, and in short, doesn’t do life. But he does do TV.

Get a job!
Many forum users have complained about their deadbeat kids who abuse their goodwill.

“Our moody little boy is now 23. I am finding that I am becoming increasingly impatient with him and this weekend I was wishing he would move out.

Unfortunately, he does not earn enough to support himself. Not that this, mind you, stops him from living as if he pays for everything himself. He indulges in 20-minute Hollywood showers every day and insists on making himself expensive snacks,” writes a frustrated Health24 forum user, who is certainly not the only one with this problem.

No jobs, or no ambition?
While widespread unemployment is a factor for young South Africans, the problem may be due to deeper and more complex issues – such as in this case:

“My question is regarding my son's lack of ambition, and general attitude. He has been living with me for the past 12 months, and his general outlook on life has improved substantially. Unfortunately he is not putting the required effort into his school work, and does not seem to be concerned at all. His general attitude around the house is negative, and small tasks are done half-heartedly or not at all,” he writes.

Just laziness, or a deeper problem?
CyberShrink replies: “What needs to be clarified is why your son does not care - does he have any answers for you in this regard?

If not, there are a number of factors to consider, such as: do you suspect drug use? Certain drugs – such as cannabis – are linked to a drop in motivation and completing tasks. He may be depressed - a lack of enthusiasm is linked to this. How well is he adapting to life with you after life with his mother?”

In such cases, professionals advise that concerned parents have their “aimless” offspring assessed by a clinical psychologist as there may be other factors, such as depression, contributing to the problem. Sometimes a lifetime of indulgence and no domestic responsibility just comes home to roost – one reader writes in to tell us that:”My problem is our 19-year-old. My husband has catered to his every wish, has never made him do any chores - he does what he wants to when he wants to.”

Signs that your goodwill is being abused

This extract is from an article by Susan Erasmus, former Life skills teacher and counsellor. The article is aimed at parents of kids who do work, but who have no intention of leaving home. And who are taking their parents for a financial ride – often without even realising it.

  • Your child, despite earning a good salary, does not make a significant contribution to the household expenses.
  • You are struggling to make ends meet, while your child has money for holidays, CDs, smart clothes and a fancy car.
  • You find yourself often having to foot the bill for your child’s friends popping in over mealtimes.
  • You find yourself having to cook meals at least twice a day. Often your child actually doesn’t arrive for these and sometimes does not let you know.
  • You cannot remember if your child has ever washed a dish, swept a floor or cleaned a bath. You think there was that one weekend in 1991 when you had broken your leg…
  • Your child knows where to buy a laser mouse for his computer, but wouldn’t know where in the supermarket to get bread, eggs or garbage bags.
  • If you didn’t clean under the bed, the missing library book from 1987 would still be there.
  • You are careful to make phone calls after 7 p.m., but your phone bill remains high.
  • A request to be taken somewhere or to get something for the household is met with unwillingness.
  • Money is borrowed from you and conveniently forgotten.

A proactive approach
Remember if your child is not working and has no income, it is your kid’s problem and he or she needs to take responsibility for the situation. This is not going to happen while you are enabling your child to take no action. But parents can become more involved in helping learners and post-matrics with career choices.

Health24 deputy editor and former life skills teacher Susan Erasmus suggests the following questions may help a confused teen narrow down the options when trying to choose a career:

  • Think of the things you enjoy.
  • Think of the things you can do.
  • See a career guidance counsellor.
  • Think of your financial requirements.
  • Think of where your chosen profession is practised.
  • What sort of training is involved?
  • What does this person do every day?
  • Take a look at what's needed in the country.
  • Choose a profession that travels.
  • Don't be pressurised by parental dreams

Help your unemployed offspring find work with these ten tips on finding a job, and get your child to use this template to create a professional CV (Information on the CV provided by Jenni van der Merwe of Careers24.)

(Joanne Hart, Susan Erasmus, Health24.com, September 2007)

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