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Rudderless son has no ambition

A reader worries her adult son is an observer, not a participant in life.


My 28-year-old son is not motivated to do well. He lives at home and works part-time in a chicken shop.

When he isn’t working he spends his time on social media or playing his game console. I take a third of his wages for board. I don’t know if I should force him out. He wouldn’t earn enough for proper rent, let alone utilities etc.

He seems content to be where he is but his job may not be secure and where will he go then? He has no qualifications. He failed Year 12 twice. I offered to teach him to drive but he doesn’t want to. I suggested he enrols in an IT course, but he thinks he knows it all.

He had the same problems at school, never revising or trying to learn new things.

I fear if I don’t do anything the situation will be worse in 10 years’ time. I am 60 and worried about his future, especially if I go to a retirement home.

He doesn’t care others have units, cars or families. He is an onlooker, not a participant in life.

How can I motivate him?


We live in a very competitive society. Children are encouraged to reach their potential in order to cope with this, with the aim they will strive to succeed in whatever direction they choose to go.

There are children, however, who do not fit into this model, but who as adults find their own niche in life and are content with that. This seems to be the case with your son. If he is content, he is unlikely to want to change, unless he sees doing so to be worthwhile.

With good intentions, you have probably shown your disappointment in him, and at some stage he has decided to try and change your opinion is just too hard. You need a new approach. Maybe you could try accepting the situation better, and concerning yourself less with his future.

Enjoy your relationship with him more. Involve him. Give him important tasks to do to help you. Make him feel useful. It would heighten his awareness of what needs to be done and the expense involved. You may be able to subtly teach him some life skills in the process. He may be pleased to discover he is important to you.

If your son shows any mood swings or lacks energy, talk to your GP, he may be suffering a degree of depression. Don’t ignore your own health through worrying.

Your son is showing he is capable of holding down a job, and his attitude may change as he gets older. You may find counselling would give you valuable support.

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