How to Deal with a 16-Year-Old Ungrateful Son

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MY son is 16-years-old and is very spoiled and ungrateful.

By Dr Neil Gosine

Further he thinks he can raise his voice at his mother or father and still get his own way. Is it too late to change him? What should I do?

Since your son is 16-year-old, and as parents we feel we want to give our kids all the things we were not afforded, so he is probably used to getting his way, and because, if you are like me you try to make up for working long hours and not always at home, you apply very few rules and therefore he rarely hears the word “no”, I’m sure. 

I would suggest that as a parent you need to have a very serious talk with him calmly. 

Yes, as his parents we have made many mistakes trying to raise him but disrespect and shouting or blaming can not be tolerated so some changes have to take place very quickly.

You must tell them that in your opinion you find him spoiled and ungrateful, which is actually your fault because you in your thirst to give him want you never had and to get his love and approval, you allow his overindulgence and did not teach him to how to appreciate the people that gives him everything nor did you teach him to be grateful. 

This is actually not his fault because it is very hard to be appreciative and grateful if you never had to want and want something. If you never had long for something and find your own ways of affording it, if you never had to do chores to make any money to pay for it or if you never had to wait on anything you asked for.

You must try to get him to understand that you will continue to do what is required to give him the necessities, as that is the job of parents.  

Parents are required to provide food, clothing, shelter and education. Everything else that you do and go the extra mile is not a necessity, it is not a need, it is actually a luxury or a want.

In fact, it might be quite reasonable to strip your son’s room and remove all that luxury or privilege items. For this to work you need to stop buying him anything new for a long time, other than necissities that he requires for school or health. 

Let me ask you parents a simple question, does your son clean his own room? I’m sure the answer is no. You need to make that change and give him advanced warning that from now on, if he leaves things lying all around the house, on the floor, or in his room on the ground, those things will be removed and he will no longer have them. This would include clothing, snacks, plates, towels, cups, shoes, underwear etc. 

These things can be donated to the less fortunate and we have a lot of unfortunate people in our country. 

Let me ask another question, does your son help around the house? 

Start giving your son a list of chores and let him choose to accomplish a few that can do. Wash the dishes, clean the car, cut the lawn, however, if your son does not do the chores that he said he would do, then there should be a consequence. He should lose something of value to him – you know what they want all the time, a drop to the gym, a drop to a party, a particular chocolate or whatever. Don’t surprise your son as this would not be fair. Just let him know what will happen if he doesn’t do his chores or if he continues to act in ways that cause arguments or confrontations. 

A 16-year-old is unquestionably old enough to even get a part time job. After exams help him get a job at a family’s business or friends. This is to teach him responsibilities or getting up and committing to something to give him the experience of what it feels like to generate an income, instead of just being given money as if you are an ATM machine. This will actually teach him the satisfaction of accomplishing something that is his own and the ability to feel what it is to earn your own money. 

Our kids are privileged and don’t even know it, so a good exercise for him would be very beneficial to him like having him do some volunteer work. It could be at a dog shelter, tutoring a younger person, or helping out at a seniors’ residence – anywhere your son can get the experience of what it feels like to help another person and make a difference in someone else’s lives.

As a parent we feel helpless at times but if you work on these suggestions you will hopefully see a turnaround in his life and play a significant role in determining who your son becomes. Don’t use threats and say anything you aren’t prepared to follow through on. I have been guilty of this in the past. It’s important to be direct and say what you mean and then do it.

I hope these suggestions will help us and even myself as writing helps me focus, to give our children the opportunity to become a more caring, sympathetic, understanding and a more insightful person. I myself am struggling to cope and hope I’m not bringing up an ungrateful adult who takes things for granted and is a very selfish individual.

Neil Gosine is an insurance executive. He is also the treasurer of the UNC and a former chairman of the National Petroleum Marketing Company of Trinidad and Tobago. He holds a Doctorate in Business Administration, a Master’s in Business Administration MBA, BSC in Mathematics and a BA in Administrative Studies. The views and comments expressed in this column are not necessarily those of AZP News, a Division of Complete Image Limited.


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