How can I help my son succeed in life when he refuses it?

When my son was a teenager, we sent him to live with his dad because of the constant disrespectful attitude. A week after he graduated, his dad made him leave because of the same issues. All four parents tried to talk to him, and he just refuses help all around. He is now living with his grandparents. He had a job, and took steps to get his license and an insured vehicle. I thought he was heading down the right road, and then he tells me he quit his job because he didn’t like it. I just don’t know what to do.

Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

Probably the best way to be supportive of your son is to tell him what bothers you about the way he's handling himself.

If you'd like him to work with your suggestions then before you make critical comments be sure to validate his strong points and to recognize his natural talents.

People are much more likely to take advice if the person feels the criticism is spoken by someone who respects them and isn't only critical of them.

Offer your availability to talk with him if you genuinely feel available to speak with him in a non-judgmental way.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Lauren Ostrowski, MA, LPC, NCC, DCC, CCTP
Lauren Ostrowski, MA, LPC, NCC, DCC, CCTP
I tailor my therapeutic approach to each client's strengths and goals

I admire your efforts. You can continue to offer assistance for your son, but it is ultimately up to him to decide what to do with the information or ideas that you are giving to him.

One thing you might try is to ask questions in a way that enables you to learn more about what he is experiencing. For example, if he is willing to talk to you about what he does on a daily basis and/or what he would like to be doing, you may be able to get a sense of what he finds difficult and find some resources to help.

I might ask things like this (just as examples):

  • Can we talk for a few minutes about some things that I would like to learn more about?
  • I'm just looking to learn more about what has been happening for you recently and I'm not trying to make you do anything.
  • I know you said you quit your job because you didn't like it. Could you tell me more about what you liked and what you didn't like?
  • Do you see yourself doing the same kind of job in the future?
  • What is it that makes you happy or what is it that you look forward to doing?
  • Can you think of anything that I can do to be of support to you?

If he is interested, you may be able to connect him with an area community college to learn more about possible job opportunities.

With the way that I wrote the questions above, it probably sounds like it's relatively easy. In reality, it may not be an easy conversation and your son may choose not to discuss it with you. If that's the case, I'd remind yourself that you are trying to do everything you can.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal, as if you want to hurt or kill yourself or someone else, or are in crisis, call 800-273-8255 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week), call 911, or proceed to your local emergency room.

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