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JohnMichaels,MS,LPC, Counselor (LPC)
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 383
Experience:  25+ years working with familes and 6 children of my own.
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I am 44 years old and recently got out of a twelve year relationship

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I am 44 years old and recently got out of a twelve year relationship and am essentially starting over. I recently bought a house and am in the process of trying to remodel it... while living in it. I have four sons.. my oldest is 20, and works, I have a son that just graduated from high school a thirteen year old and a ten year old. My youngest lives most of the time with his father. My two oldest have a father that lives five min away but have not lived with him for sometime because they do not get along with their stepmother. My Thirteen year old's father died when he was nine mos old.

My problem is that my 18 year old refuses to get a job, and I told him if he wont work and contribute $100 to the household a month that I expect him to do some work around the house to help me... such as keeping yard mowed, other yard work, and cleaning gutters and helping me with other projects with the house.. I am overwhelmed trying to work.. I work two to three twelve hour days doing home healthcare and do residential cleaning on the other days when I have them scheduled... My twelve year old is really suppose to keep the yard mowed with his brother overseeing it making sure it gets done...
They spend all day grazing and eating all of the food out of the pantry and go back to playing their video games.. all day long!
They may work ten minutes and come up with some excuse for why they cant do something... either they dont know how or they are afraid of the mower ... I give them instruction and show them exactly how to do things and I still find I can never delegate jobs and come home to them ever being done or done properly where I do not have to go back and redo their work...

I am furious and tired of dealing with their cavalier attitudes. My twelve year old is mouthy and feels he has no obligation to work and do chores because none of his friends have to . My eighteen year old will pitch in and help but only when I am their working beside him... and then as soon as he sees an exit disappears to his room in the basement. i am forever seeking them out trying to get them back on task.. I find trash thrown on the floors, clean clothes strewn all over.. after I repeatedly tell them to just keep food , trash and clothes off the floors... I do their laundry , organize their clothing and when all they have to do is put up the clean clothes,, they throw them in a big ball or leave them thrown on the floor. They wont keep the cat litter box cleaned out and I come home to find cat sh**t on the floor... and full in the box! They want the cat and I told them they had to take care of it.

My eighteen year old is suppose to be going with his older brother and starting college, getting an apartment together and his brother told him he would need to work to save up the money it is going to take to come up with rent and deposit in addition to deposits for utilities etc. and that he will have to work while going to school. But my eighteen year old think he will just wait until he gets to going to college then get a job. But, I dont think he realizes what having a job is like and is going to be totally stressed starting it all at once.

I am thinking of threatening to send him back to live with his father if he cannot do his fair share. He is sweet ad affectionate to me but does not do the things I ask. He will cook for us which is the one thing I can count on with him.. he enjoys doing that.. but of course makes a huge mess that he does not clean up... I can clean and they both come up and trash the whole house. I am constantly tryig to catch up.. I cannot do this all by myself.
My oldest son is working and does pick up after himself and will come help me with the house and gets on to his brothers when he is home ... but they have no sense of responsibility and I truly wish I could kick them the h*LL out of my house somedays.. they cause me more work and stress.

What should I say and do that will make them do what they need to do and start being responsible and accountable?

I need some very detail outline to follow.. so that I can be consistent.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  JohnMichaels,MS,LPC replied 3 years ago.
Hello! I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and have six children of my own. Note, this is not therapy, but advice. I hope I can be a help to you. You are apparently very frustrated and that is understandable. I also have a house full of children and honestly feel your pain. I have switched to question and answer mode and will ask a couple questions and give you as detailed an answer as I come up with. Please do not accept my answer until you are totally satisfied. I want to help you!
Expert:  JohnMichaels,MS,LPC replied 3 years ago.
You have every right to be frustrated. They are old enough to be responsible . It is seriously time to put your foot down. That is difficult to do without back-up though. A couple questions come to mind: 1) Will their fathers back you up? 2) Will that help? 3) It is sounding as if the oldest is at least somewhat responsible. Is he willing to step up and help you make your point with the younger ones? I want to help you. I am looking over the details of your question, but answering these questions will help too.
Expert:  JohnMichaels,MS,LPC replied 3 years ago.

I see you are offline. I am going to give my thoughts on what I call a Behavior Contract. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. I want you to be fully satisfied with my response! ...

Expert:  JohnMichaels,MS,LPC replied 3 years ago.

As I stated before, I think it would be beneficial to recruit the assistance of at least the oldest brother. That is not necessary though. This process has been very helpful for many families, most of which have been single parent households....

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I have recruited my older son to help and he does his best to try to direct them... They do respect him but even he cant force them in anyway plus he is not around a lot because he is working this summer and had a baseball scholarship and goes to college and plays college ball. He has played since he was little and it has taught him to have to manage his time and he has always been my responsible one.I am going to call my sons father and tell him I am going to have my expectations known and if he does not cooperate in a specified time I want to send him back to his dads house to live. I also an going to take away the video game systems and internet. My thirteen year old will also have to be accountable for certain responsibilities and if he does not cooperate I am looking into assistance to be able to send him to military academy... How should I implement this?
Expert:  JohnMichaels,MS,LPC replied 3 years ago.

1) Be firm but in control. Do not scream or yell, or even nag. Just say what you mean, mean what you say, but don't be mean with how you say it. I know that sounds cliché', but it is an effective way to communicate.

2) Make out a list of what you expect each of them to do. If you can narrow it to 2-3 expectations, you are better off. Put it in writing and be very clear.

3) Make a list of consequences for if they don't follow through. A small consequence for a small infraction. Ex: If you fail to take out the trash, you lose game privileges for a day. Larger infractions lead to greater consequences. .Ex: Disrespect results in home confinement for a week or two or three. There needs to be some sort of extreme consequence for total disrespect. All of these will be different for each child.

4) The flip side is a basic reward system, made up the exact opposite of the negative. A small reward for taking out the trash for a few days. A larger reward for a good week or so. A significant event for the family if all of them do well for say six weeks. This can be difficult with the wide ages and interests, but surely they can agree to something.

5) As much as possible, let them help you draw up the contract. Let it be theirs. In the process of doing that, ask them what they might like to see you do different, This is only fair. Maybe spend more quality time with them. Dont yell, etc. It is usually nothing major.

6) On the matter of the clothes, if they can't put them up, don't clean them. Let them do without. they are big boys , They can clean their own clothes.

7) Make it very clear to the 18 year old you are not bailing him out when it comes to college time. He is expecting you to.

Expert:  JohnMichaels,MS,LPC replied 3 years ago.

The key is to be consistent. Follow through with what you say. Dont get angry or lose control.

Remember to not accept my answer until you are fully satisfied. I will answer your questions as best I can. If you respond with either


I expected moreHelped a little


It will count as a negative report and i will not be compensated fot my time. I do want to help you!





Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I appreciate your guidelines... Do you suggest waiting to take the video games away and if they dont follow through with the guidelines I expect then use that as a consequence.... I really hate those things... what are some other good ideas for consequences...
Expert:  JohnMichaels,MS,LPC replied 3 years ago.

Honestly, Caroline, an extreme of this idea that I use on occasion is to remove all privileges to start with and have them earn them back. That sounds extremely negative, but in reality, once everything is removed, it is all positive reinforcement. I prefer the less extreme approach though. It works better if you can make it theirs...sell it to them per se. Another idea is if they don't put it up, they lose it. You find their clothes on the floor, you take them away. They don't make their bed, you remove their covers, etc. Basically, let them suffer the consequences of their behavior. You allow them to earn items/privileges back by showing responsibility. Nothing you do is permanent though. You keep it as short term as possible and still make the point, in order not to use up all your ammo too quickly. Honestly, once again, the key is consistency. This plan will work if you do it correctly. Don't overreact to anything and stick to your guns. Be strong, but not mean. I hope I have been of help. If so please respond with positive feedback so I can be compensated for my time. I will answer your questions even after you have accepted my answer. Thank you! John

Expert:  JohnMichaels,MS,LPC replied 3 years ago.
I see you are offline. When you come back online, I hope you will ask any questions you might have. I want to be helpful and informative to you. Remember don't rate me until you feel I have been. This does not mean you are totally comfortable with the response, just that I was informative and helpful. I do want to be helpful. Thank you!
JohnMichaels,MS,LPC, Counselor (LPC)
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 383
Experience: 25+ years working with familes and 6 children of my own.
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