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Young adults not working or studying ...

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Young adults not working or studying ...


Young adults not working or studying ...

Hello there, I am the parent of a 21 year old son who prefers to stay at home, eat, smoke and be immersed in electronic games. He wake up in the morning, have his bowl of cereals and go back to bed. He is not motivated to do anything else eg further study (he completed the HSC) , getting a job nor girls? I am looking for advice to transition him into a productive advice. Thanks

Prolific scribe

Re: Young adults not working or studying ...

Hi @Traveller I have an 18 year old son with exactly the same behaviour.  I have been told recently by a clinical psychologist only this week that we have to set clear boundaries and stick to them.  Her advice was to point out that he either get a job and start contributing to society and the family or move out and she suggested a time frame for this to happen.  She advised that the longer we allow his behaviour to continue the less likely he is to do anything.  However, I have reserved feelings about this approach and am also looking for direction.

Prolific scribe

Re: Young adults not working or studying ...

Hi @Traveller thought I would also add that I no longer pay his a mobile phone and I turn the internet off when I go to work which is only three days a week.  These have not motivated him so far.  This week I purchased a washing basket for his room and told him that he now has to do his own washing.  Will let you know how this goes.  What have you tried to help motivate your son?


Re: Young adults not working or studying ...

Hi @Chalke5 and @Traveller . Oh boy what a dilemma ! So sorry to hear this is happening to you guys . It must be so worrying . We so want our kids to grab life by the whatsies and be passionate about their pathway !! When they fail to launch we think will they even get out of this funk and be productive and happy . 

I hate to say this because it is easier for me to say than it is for you to do , but the evidence is in on this one . If you don't set clear boundaries they will not take responsibility for their behaviour and make changes . Where there are no consequences there is no effort or minimum requirement effort to keep Mum off their backs. 

Some things to do if you have not already done so : 

Check that depression has not set in . Lack of motivation is the first casualty.  The longer the depression goes untreated ( counsellor and maybe meds ) the more entrenched the behaviour becomes . Depression can have a feedback effect - the less you do the worse you feel , the less you want to try . Pushing them out the door at deadline when they are unwell is not a good idea obviously . Getting them to a functioning level is necessary for action in their lives . 

You have been great parents I am sure and have prepared your children to launch . Trust in yourselves as parents that you have taught them the life skills to deal with obstacles and hardships . If you continue to enable it will cripple them .

Our  job as parents is to make them independent  and ready for living , not continue to parent them as children in the home as adults .  They are adults  now and while still needing us , we need to require more of them and they need to require more of themselves . 

Obviously you would continue to support them but ONLY when you see them making moves to get a job , home etc and being proactive . Eg They have a job interview ( which they arranged ) and it's very early and it's hard to get to , so you give them a lift . Even help them find a place to live as long as you are looking together , you are not doing it for them while they eat cereal and play "Steam " . 


Ask yourselves the hard questions :

 Am I letting him do what he wants for me or for him ? 

What is my pay off ? Less guilt , less anxiety , knowing where they are ? 


Work out a plan of action with them and stick to it . Make sure details are written down and time limits set , then it is crystal clear . It's on the fridge in his diary , in your calendar . Set out steps to be completed each day . Every day he does SOMETHING  towards gaining traction in his life is a step towards success  . Days turn into weeks and he gains momentum and starts to see results . 

It may be if you have seen proof he has gone for 10 jobs  in a month then he does not have to leave by the set date and gets another 3 months . Then you reassess after that 3 months what he has done with his time  , job hunting wise , and how much he has contributed to the family chores . If you don't have a job you treat your job searching time as a job . 9 - 5pm with a lunch break 😜


Elist the help of significant others for support . Maybe there is a close relative who they admire and respect who could help to inspire them . 


Dont allow yourselves to be manipulated out of your decisions . 


They may have to move out and end up on a couch , but trust that you have raised them to be resilient, resourceful , pragmatic and capable . They will work it out when it becomes uncomfortable not when Mum provides her serviced hotel ! 


Active scribe

Re: Young adults not working or studying ...

Hi Traveller, my son was a bit lost after finishing school. Due to some incidences at school, his confidence became compromised. I made him an appointment with Headspace, it helped because it was someone other than me to talk to, so he could talk about things more freely, and get some things off his chest that were weighing him down. I recommend them as a starting point, if perhaps there is stuff going on in his mind that's weighing him down and zapping his motivation. I let my son bum around for a bit this year, just to unwind after so many years of schooling, but I noticed him starting to drift. I started googling mid year TAFE courses and we chatted about his readiness to study, as he wasn't having much luck on the job front. My son also is an avid computer gamer and has an interest in computers, so I googled IT courses and we went to a couple of Open Days to learn more about the courses we had found. He ended up choosing to do a Cert 4 in IT, he now gets Austudy, so that's a bit of money, and it gets him out into the world in the very least. He has his good days and bad days, but I just remind him that there is no pressure from me, I'm here as support. My priority is that he is growing, there are many years to figure out his life purpose, for now, it's about self development. All the best, I'm sure you will find what works for him together.

Star contributor

Re: Young adults not working or studying ...

Hi @Traveller Welcome to the Reach Out Parents forum!  Thanks for sharing.

You've received some great advice which I cant really add to at the moment. It sounds like a frustrating situation you are experiencing with your son, but certainly not an isolated case.  I hope the forums can give you some suggestions and support during this time.

Active scribe

Re: Young adults not working or studying ...

Our 18 yr old is desperately behind in graduating from high school. He has had issues with school all along, and we sent him to an "unschool" for 3 years, which was far too long
Now he is in an alternate school, which allows kids to study at their own pace. Unfortunately his pace seems to be doing a day's worth of study in a week.
He is bright, but very unmotivated. He is on antidepressant meds, and in psychological councelling. I have no idea how to get him to step up the pace. For university-educated parents, seeing our kids heading towards a life where they are likely to be failed McDonald's servers is bloody hard. I am despairing of both my kids right now.
We have discussed this with both boys (the other is 15 and slightly better off school-wise, but worse behaviourally), pointing out that though we love them dearly, there is absolutely no way we can support them much beyond 20. Our working lives are nearing their ends (we are older parents) and we are unlikely to be able to support ourselves in any kind of comfort, never mind them. The younger took this to heart, and worked harder for 2 whole days, then back to old habits of not attending school if he could help it. We have told him his pocket money is now going to be entirely dependent on his school attendance, and completion of household chores. We are going to have to do something similar with the older. I don't know, I just see them living on the streets or something, just not coping with life once they leave home. I don't understand how we have failed them so thoroughly.