How Can I Help My Lazy, Spoiled Son?

Saggitarius archer Hi Elsa,

My older children live with their father during the school year and have for the last five years. This was a compromise on my part because he was willing to go to court over custody issues and I had either the resources nor the inclination to put them through that kind of drama at that time. It was hard but I have accepted it as the east evil.

Last spring my son called me sobbing and telling me he’d ad a fight with his dad. When I picked him up I learned that his
father had struck him during this argument. It required quite a bit of juggling on my part but there was no question in my mind. If he needed to be with me, I would make that possible. He stayed with me or about three months and then chose to return to his dad’s house as soon as the school year ended because it turns out I expected the same kind of behavior his father did but his dad’s house offers more luxuries.

Now when my son comes to visit he is withdrawn, unbelievably lazy and he avoids most family interaction. He is very overweight and is allowed to eat anything he likes at his dad’s house which tends to be mostly junk food. We have a fun, busy and chaotic household and he isn’t expected to do more than his share of the work. Just clean up after himself a bit and participate with us. When he was here after Christmas his behavior was so bad that I told him he had to decide
whether to act like a member of this family or call his dad to pick him up. His father was at the door within an hour.

I am at my wit’s and and am really grieving for this situation. I live in a neighborhood where most of the people work very hard to have a nice life. He is so fortunate and so spoiled. His father refuses to communicate about this with me and always has. Everyone around the situation on his father’s side pamper my son and fix his mistakes for him. I fear that the only thing that will make him grow up and act like a decent human will be some real tragedy or adversity.

I feel completely helpless and hate to watch my son destroy himself from a distance. Is there anything I’m missing here that might change his course he’s on?

Mom

Dear Mom,

I think you have a generic rebellious teenager here, milking it for all it is worth. You can’t save him, he is going to have to grow up and out of it (or not) and the less you try the more he will have to. He’s pissed off and all this is a power grab. Your ex husband, same thing.

I agree with what you did and would tell him to piss off until he can treat you with some respect. It won’t work short term but there is nothing that is going to bring him around any faster. In a word – detach.

And on the “watching you son destroy himself” find some new words for what is going on. “Watching him go through something… watching him grow up,” come to mind. In a perfect world all our kids get on a straight path and stay there but in this real world, that almost never happens.

I say the best thing you can do is stick to your guns. It’s important there is someone he cannot manipulate and never, ever underestimate your power as his mother, even if you are at the moment, a void.

Anyone else?

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Comments

How Can I Help My Lazy, Spoiled Son? — 8 Comments

  1. Having dealt with rebellious teen step-daughters when Pluto was transiting my Ascendant (in Scorpio), I was more or less brought to the point of recognizing my sane option was to detach. I did and have been rewarded for that sensible choice by having excellent relationships with them as adults.

    With the Moon sq Pluto/Mars in Scorpio in this chart, detaching is the only way to go . . . stubborn is an understatement!! 🙂

  2. I am in kind of the same situation with my stepdaughter these days, and came to the same conclusion (i.e. to detach), but I must say it’s awfully hard sometimes. 🙁 Especially since she used to be my “buddy” and now there is, like, nothing left of that. I do hope things will be better when/if she grows out of it…

  3. i’m not so good on the chart reading yet, so i can’t give you astrological advice. but i have dealt with custody issues and very difficult kids through their late teens.

    one thing that was a BIG challenge for me to come to terms with is that my kids might decide to grow up to be jerks! that was a very hard realization. when i realized how manipulative, lazy, and even mean they could be, i was highly distraught. it was a disaster to me, the “worst possible outcome.” at first, at least, that’s how it felt. i thought my job was to keep that from happening and i couldn’t.

    but the bottom line, for me, was all about learning to detach. you know, you don’t own it, he does. teenaged boys in particular can be some of the most obnoxious creatures on the planet. yours has the extra bonus of being able to play you and your ex against one another, and don’t you think for a minute he doesn’t. (i used to think everythign i heard about the other house was gospel. it was a pretty rude wakeup call when i learned it was the same story over there, with us cast as the bad guys.)

    the only solution for me was to remain true to myself and my beliefs, and understand that my kids will be whoever they want, whether i like it or not. i decided that i would participate in things i felt good about, and refuse to participate in things i didn’t. those were my boundaries.

    it doesn’t mean that it still doesn’t hurt or that you dont’ hope for something different for him. but the more you push, the more he’ll push back.

    you can’t really go beyond setting your own boundaries. that also means staying 100% out of what his dad does with him and how “right” or “wrong” that may be. i won’t even have those discussions anymore, since it merely facilitates manipulation. you own your relationship with him, nothing else. you can set your expectations for your time together and let him step up to the plate or not, but you can’t make him manage the way you’d like.

    i know it hurts, and maybe he’ll have to be slapped around to grow up, or maybe not. either way, though, you can’t fix him. you can only control your own behavior.

    good luck mom. sending love our your way, because i know this is HARD stuff.

  4. All teenagers can be seen as spoiled and lazy. They are spoiled because they have been loved their whole lives and they are lazy because they are not expected yet to earn their own living. We tolerate them because one day they’re going to let us live in their in-law apartments.

    Whatever your pain is about your divorce, about Dad’s money, about the reason you did not pursue custody, about the “fortunate” circumstances your son enjoys while you have to work hard — if you really want to help your son, first assume he is a human being who needs love.

    At this point in his life, he is a human being at a very confusing age with a broken family. If you assume this, it will be easy to relate to him. Forget your grief, that’s your problem — what about his?

    If you relate to him as a projection that contains your pain, it’s likely you’ll continue to grieve your own losses through him while you fail miserably at controlling your experience of him.

    Detach is a great idea. See this person as a new event on Earth that you have been given the amazing privilege to witness intimately. Enjoy his company, it won’t be there forever. Forget that other stuff, it’s all rooted in the past. You have the opportunity with a growing person to make something totally new.

  5. Thank you all for your comments and Elsa thank you for this response. I am the mom from this question and I really do appreciate all of your insights.

    It may help to understand that I’ve been divorced for more than ten years now and it was my decision to end the relationship. I’m not newly separated and grieving the loss of the relationship. I am grieving the the closeness I have had with my son in the past.

    Trust me when I say that there is not a more detached person on the planet regarding an ex-husband. I realized during the divorce process that I would have no control over anything he said about me or anything he did with the kids. He has made choices I did not agree with over and over again and I have never criticized him to the kids. There have been times I’ve told them I felt he was wrong such as when he hit my son in the face, but I do not interfere or try to control anything that happens in his household. I don’t get the same courtesy and I think my son has recently decided his dad must be right about me.

    Still there is nothing I can do except hope that one day he will see the truth and know that I have always done the absolute best I can for him and for his sister.

  6. Eva I want to add that I think you have a misconception about the situation. I am not resentful of his father’s money or my lack of wealth, nor was I implying that I resent that I have to work hard and his father doesn’t. I love my life and don’t regret any of the choices I’ve made.

    I have a great deal of compassion for all of my children. Right now one of them is treating all the rest of us like shit. I think I’ve proven through my actions that I will be there when he needs me to and I have told him that as well. Now I have to prove that when I tell him he can’t behave this way and have that behavior tolerated I mean that as well.

  7. Almost nine years later.. hoping things have developed well, for Lupa’s son.

    (My own son told me, this year, some insights that a caring person predicted he’d one day see, about that long ago.)

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