Best Left Alone

My teenage son is lazy. He doesn’t try hard at school and won’t do any jobs. What should I do?

Humans are silly at the best of times, but possibly the silliest humans, and the ones most avoided by Sparks, are teenagers.

But to be fair, how can you expect a human being to behave rationally when they’re under the influence of a surging cocktail of adrenal stress hormones, sex hormones, and growth hormones? Not to mention at the same time being completely obsessed with their own bodies?

If only humans were able to grow cocoons and go into hibernation for 4 – 8 years. It would be a far more graceful transition. But alas, no, the biological complications of long-term hibernation on the human body would be very complicated, and since new experience is such an important part of human development, teenagers really need to be cognizant throughout the transitory period.

Teenagers remind me a bit of foals galloping for the first time. Cautious, yet thrilled by their own strength. Suddenly their bodies feel awkward and the way they appear to the world becomes a major preoccupation and source of anxiety to them. Unfortunately some humans never really grow out of it this body neurosis, but most humans eventually begin to accept the way they look and make the best of it, particularly when there are other things to interest them like money and food and other substances.

It interests me to see how teenagers react differently to the transition. Some teenagers behave like clumsy fools, drunk on adrenaline, doing their best to draw attention to how idiotic they look, while others withdraw, seeming to do everything they can to hide from the world and avoid all interaction with it.

It sounds like your son is more the reclusive type, which is probably the best type of teenager to live with.  It may not look like it on the surface, but there will be far more activity going on in his mind than you would imagine. The world is becoming a more complex and daunting place to him and his brain has to process and deal with all the new information.

You could be forgiven for assuming that he is completely self-absorbed, lazy and oblivious to others, but he’s actually very busy observing how other people react to him, and believe it or not, the way you react to him does affect him and does matter to him.

My advice is to give him a break. Growing takes a lot of energy and he’s probably just really tired a lot of the time. Your frustration will only add to his anxieties and if you nag him he’ll retreat further and resent you for it. Give him room to grow and time to adjust. Let him know you care about him in non-intrusive ways. Show interest in the things he enjoys doing without interfering. Let him occupy himself. Be less demanding and more encouraging.

Have patience and he’s far more likely to emerge from his cocoon a confident, articulate, well adjusted, motivated individual who will appreciate, respect and surprise you.

The Spark.

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