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Talking To A Brick Wall

Talking to a Brick Wall

by Connie H. Deutsch

Did you ever feel that you were talking to a brick wall? Recently, I've been watching this in action with a mother. I keep hearng her say the same things over and over to her child and she thinks it's penetrating. But, it's not. It only looks like it is.

"Do you want to grow up to be like your father?" The implication is clear. His father is lazy, lacks ambition, isn't too smart, does the barest amount of work, if that much, and lives on a shoestring because he doesn't want to work. Grow up to be like him? No, of course not. But what are you doing to change the trajectory of your life?

Every day, she comes home from work to find him watching NetFlix. He does the barest amount of homework during school hours, gets B's and C's, barely, when he's smart enough to get all A's, and doesn't move a muscle to help around the house unless she gives him specific chores to do. Simple chores. Empty the garbage. When you see the garbage can getting full, empty it. That has to be told to him? Over and over?

If you're hungry, start dinner so we'll be ready to eat when I get home from doing backbreaking work all day. Again, that has to be told to him? The apartment needs to be vacuumed. He can't take a vacuum to the small floors and vacuum, mostly his crap? No, when she gets home from having worked at a backbreaking job all day, she's the one who has to clean the house, his dinner dishes included, while he goes into his bedroom to watch more Netflix.

She's always complaining of never having the money to buy anything for herself because she's always putting his needs first. The other day, I committed heresy. I told her that in a few months, he'll be of age to be considered an adult and she ought to start treating him like one or he will grow up to be just like his father.

I told her that if he has so much spare time on his hands, he needs to get a part-time job and contribute money to the household. She thought about it and then told me what she was going to say to him when she got home that night. I listened carefully and then told her that she wasn't saying a darn thing that was any different from what she had been telling him for almost sixteen years.

At least as a starting point, you don't say to your kid, "Things are going to be different around here." He's heard that all his life. No, when you get home, just give him a list of chores that have to be done.

"Billy, vacuum the apartment while I'm starting supper." If he reaches for the refrigerator without vacuuming the apartment... "No, Billy, That's my food that I paid for. You want food? Vacuum the apartment or pay me for the food you want to eat." Treat him like the adult he is and little by little, he'll become the adult you want him to be. Continue to treat him like a spoiled child with entitlement issues, and he'll grow up to be exactly like his father.

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