Dear Coleen: Why has my bright son turned into a layabout?

Dear Coleen

My son has recently turned 19 and left school a year ago after his exams. Since then he’s done practically nothing, despite getting good A-level results.

He just lies around the house all day, listening to music, messaging his mates and playing computer games. He only ever leaves the house to meet up with friends in the evenings.

His attempts at finding work have been half-hearted to say the least, although he occasionally does shifts at our local pub if they’re short staffed, but that’s it.

His two younger sisters are so different – motivated and sociable.

I don’t know where I’ve gone wrong with my son, but somehow it feels like this situation is my fault.

This parent is having trouble motivating her son


I’ve tried to talk to him and motivate him, but nothing I say or do seems to have any effect.

He has a different father to my daughters – his dad left when he was only two years old and they don’t have much contact.

However, my husband, his stepfather, has been a wonderful influence in his life since he was five years old, and treats him as his own, but it seems it’s not enough.

My husband has run out of ideas about him, too.

What can I do to shake him out of this – for all our sakes?

Coleen Nolan


Coleen says

There’s obviously something behind his lack of interest and motivation.

Perhaps it’s low self-esteem, lack of confidence or even depression, so it would be good if you could get him to open up to you. Rather than talking at him, try to encourage him to confide in you about how he feels and what’s stopping him from taking this next step in life.

Maybe he hasn’t dealt with being abandoned by his father and that’s something counselling could help him with.

Try approaching it from the angle that you want to help and you

don’t want to see him waste his life when he’s so bright and has so much to offer.

Maybe he needs to find something he’s passionate about to engage him in life again – that could be a hobby or a vocational college course instead of going into full-time work.

But I think you also need to have more boundaries at home – it’s your house and, if he wants to live there, he has to keep to those rules.

That might involve doing jobs for you as well as doing more for himself, and getting up at a reasonable hour.

I wouldn’t expect an overnight change, but every small step and every success is a move in the right direction.  



Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.