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My 15-Year-Old Has No Motivation


I am worried about my son who has no motivation toward life or completing simple daily tasks. Drug and alcohol dependency, as well as mental illness, run in our family, and I am concerned that he will fall into the same problems. He is a good kid with a beautiful passion for music, but he has no interest in setting goals or fulfilling even basic responsibilities like household chores. I have tried to get him to go to counseling, but he refuses. He's the type that keeps things bottled up inside. We are a very close family, yet I feel so lost when it comes to helping him.



Thank you for writing. It's understandable that you are concerned about your son, especially if mental health issues run in the family. However, it's important to focus on the here and now and not what could happen to him in the future because of his genetics. As parents, we are concerned for our children, but we can’t allow that concern to take over.

You have already tried to be a proactive parent by offering to take him to counseling. Although you cannot force him to go, continue to let him know that it's an option. We can help you locate therapists who specialize in youth counseling, as well as nontraditional forms of therapy, such as music therapy, since you mentioned your son’s passion for music.

His lack of drive in life might appear so to you, ​but perhaps he is seeing it differently. Express the goals you would like for him to accomplish but be very specific so you're not misinterpreted. Instead of making a vague statement like, "You need to have goals in life," be specific with something such as, "I would like to see you graduate from high school and go to college."

If you need help with household chores, determine and discuss what the consequences will be if they are or are not done. Whenever you introduce a new parenting technique, it will take some time for all parties to adjust. Be consistent and you will see changes in behavior.

You might also want to encourage some positive coping skills (i.e., keeping a blog, volunteering, exercising, cooking or listening to music) if you feel he’s keeping things bottled up inside. We hope that you and your family start to see change; let us know if there is any other way we can help.