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Motivating a teenager

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by kingcreole, May 20, 2014.

  1. kingcreole

    kingcreole Active Member

    The queen and I are as frustrated as we've ever been with our eldest princess. She's 15 (the princess not the queen, you sickos) and will be 16 this summer. She's going to be a junior this fall.

    I wouldn't say the princess is lazy. She gets good grades (all As and Bs). She has a decent social life (BFF, boyfriend, etc.). She doesn't get in trouble. She's been a varsity cheerleader since she was a freshman, which is no small feat at a school with about 1,600 students.

    Before I go farther, she is actually my stepdaughter but I've been the father figure for most of her life. Her real dad actually considered giving up his rights a few years back, but I talked him out of it. The princess sees him once a year or so, but rarely interacts with him or his family. Yet, she thinks the world of him. It's a tricky situation for the queen and I.

    The problem? She has little to no motivation for ANYTHING else. We've tried to coax her into getting a job. But she always has an excuse.

    "I can't work fast food."

    "I don't like working with kids."

    "I'm not good with people."

    I got her a job last summer with the local semi-pro baseball team. The owners are awesome people, but the princess doesn't want to go back this season. Why?

    "I hated having two bosses."

    I try telling her I have two bosses, and she snaps, "No you don't. (ME) is your boss. (Publisher) is not."

    We planned on buying her a car this summer, but I'm saying at this point, "No car until she has a job." But that's when her father might step in and buy her one regardless. And I think the princess knows that. All she has to do is pretty much ask her father for anything, and he'll likely oblige. But again, they don't have much of a relationship outside of their annual visits, and the princess doesn't want to be let down by him. Confusing and complex.

    There's more here. The princess has the opportunity to be a Junior Phys Ed Leader at school next year, which is basically someone who helps organize intramurals and similar activities. Those people then get the chance to work with Special Olympics and other stuff like that. The princess scoffed at the chance, and said, "I'm going to be too busy next year with my classes. Junior year is the hardest."

    When I tried telling her it will look good on a resume, she says, "These classes are too important, and the classes will look good on a resume too."

    Basically, she's an unmotivated, angry teenager. Every time the queen or I try to talk to her (talk, not fight), the princess gets pissy, defensive and angry. It's an endless circle right now.

    I do my best to stay involved while not trying to gang up on her. But I really don't know what to do. It's frustrating and stressful. Any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated.
  2. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    Sounds like you need to talk to her father about uniting on a strategy.
  3. TigerVols

    TigerVols Well-Known Member

    I felt your pain a decade ago. To the letter.

    All I can say is...time heals all wounds.
  4. kingcreole

    kingcreole Active Member

    Meh ... as I said, it's complex. He and my wife never talk. They loathe each other. He was a high school dropout, never finished, but I do give him credit for starting and maintaining a successful construction business. I don't care to interact with him either.
  5. Dirk Legume

    Dirk Legume Active Member

    King, If you want to put restrictions on a vehicle, even if her father gives her one, tell her she has to cover registration and insurance.. If her dad, covers that as well, then I guess you just have to tell her no until she gets a job.

    If it's any consolation, you are not alone. We went through this with our (now 24 year old) daughter, especially the "everything starts an argument" part.

    You (if you're like me) keep telling yourself, "I don't want her to think i'm a jerk". She will regardless ;D

    So just be a jerk (in her eyes)

    And, while it is a huge pain in the ass. It doesn't last forever...it just feels like it. ;)
  6. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    Maybe the approach shouldn't be punitive, because that doesn't seem to be going much of anywhere. Is there a reason she's unmotivated? Is she afraid of something? What does her mother have to say about this? Does she generally listen to you? What is the dad saying to her in the rare times he sees her? What is it she likes to actually do? Why does she seem to have this negativity about herself? Is there someone she listens to outside of you and your wife who might have some good influence over her?

    I have two teens, and I can tell you I have no magic answers. But maybe these questions will get at the root of the problem and keep you from further frustration. All I know about teens is that it appears they will find something they are interested in, something that catches you by surprise, something that you were never interested in and so are confounded by their interest. What that subject of interest is, and how you react, goes a long way toward defining the relationship with your teenager.
  7. albert77

    albert77 Well-Known Member

    Ah, the cycle of life. From what you've described, it actually appears that her plate is already reasonably full, so I wouldn't push the junior PE deal. But do stick to your guns on the car. If she wants it, then she needs to get a job to help with the costs. And by all means get her biological father on board. Divide and conquer is the teenagers' mantra and should be prevented at all costs.
  8. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    As a teenager, I was incredibly motivated by getting a car when I turned 16. My parents made it clear that they would pay my insurance, but if I wanted my own car, that was on me. Between selling baseball cards and mowing lawns, I had over $5K in the bank before I turned 16 and was able to buy a end of the year model Nissan Sentra.

    What might be effective is saying, "I'm not going to force you to get a job, but if you want a car, you're going to have to pay for this aspect of it..."

    That might not be effective on everybody, but I'm guessing for some it would be.

    If someone is 16 and able to work and they want any expensive items like a certain phone, iPad, laptops etc... I would make sure that those items are earned and not just handed to them.

    One of my friends has a 17-year-old and any big item he wants, his parents match him on the purchase. He wanted an iPhone, so when he had his half, they matched it... It's worked very well for them...
  9. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Is a job (even a summer job) a standard condition of teenhood in your neck of the woods? If her friends are working and she is the only one who isn't, it could be a motivational problem. But if her friends don't have jobs -- which I believe is more typically the case even in the summer -- that could be a large factor in her unwillingness. That doesn't make her right and you wrong, but it might mean she's wondering why you're being "stricter" than everybody else.
  10. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Well, if she's not 16 yet, she can't work, at least not at a real job.

    There's still things like babysitting and stuff like that. I remember when my sister was in eighth grade she posted her contact information on the bulletin board at the tennis club and worked at least three nights a week ever since. It's not difficult.

    People tend to get some satisfaction out of getting some money of their own. They may resist it initially, but when they're handed $30 for sitting on someone else's couch and watching TV for four hours can be pretty enticing even to the laziest of teens.
  11. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    I'll squat on the other side of the matter. I suspect I will draw criticism, but perhaps elicit some better ideas, too, from people who think mine suck.

    <i>Don't</i> try to motivate her. Her motivation is her problem. Calmly relay the rules of your house -- you may need to really think about those rules, since you'd have to stick to them, and it can be a real pain in the ass to stick to rules you don't really believe in -- and what she loses when she doesn't live by them. If that means she leaves the house at 18 in a big huff and doesn't get into the college of her choice, so be it. Tell her she's old enough to decide how she wants to pursue adulthood, however that may be, and since you have your own worldview, it's not going to change because of her emotional whims. Let her emotions be her emotions. Don't change you to change her. It doesn't work.

    IMO, drop the Junior Phys Ed thing. She gets good grades, has a social life and is a good cheerleader. The message sent when you tell her "hey, do this other thing" is: <i>What you're doing isn't enough, I think you need to do more.</i> Even if you are projecting what you think colleges want to see, it's still read, from the child, as a judgment from you.

    So tell her one piece of advice: <i>If you want to go to college, I would make a list of the places you want to go to, and ask the colleges yourself what they think you need. Let them tell you. And then be the best consumer possible. Put emphasis on which college seems to want you, and want to help you, rather than some cool place you could attend.</i> Offer to help at any stage -- in making the list, in calling the schools, in arranging visits -- but tell her you won't meddle again, and you won't bring it up. If she doesn't want your help, or can't bring herself to ask you, or wants to ask someone else, so be it. It's her life. Let her learn the lesson however she pleases.

    Why do you want her to have a job? To buy her own cool stuff? If so, leave that to her, to figure out how she buys it.

    If you want her to have a job because you think that's an important skill to have, tell her she needs to get one, that what she gets is up to her, and you'll help her within reasonable limits to get to and from that job. Never get her another job, ever. Have her own what she wants. If she wants her own car, you'll have to decide whether you're buying it for her or she's buying it herself, or some combination of the two.

    Just my two cents.
  12. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    King, I'm the father of a 16 year old who will also be a junior next fall.

    My two cents? If this is the case...

    ...then you don't really have a problem. You are creating a problem where it doesn't exist.

    Sounds to me like she's doing very well. She just isn't doing everything you think she may possibly be able to do. That's on you, not her. Let her live her life. Seems to me she's doing a pretty good job of it, her plate's pretty full, and constantly telling her that's not enough will only make her resent you.

    I'm not one to tell other people how to raise their kids, but since you asked, take it for what it's worth. At 15, I think she's doing great.
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