Lazy Teenager VS. Frustrated Parents: 4 Coping Tips

By Willow Breckenridge | May 3, 2021

You try to refresh yourself with a glass of iced tea and realize you have nothing to pour it into left in the cupboard. You call up to your teenager to remove the stemware collection from their bedroom and wash it in the kitchen. They reply with, “In a minute,” — and you find yourself sipping from a Dixie cup at 11 p.m. 

You might be one of many parents who consider your teenager’s resistance to doing chores maddening.  Yes, it’s true, they aren’t out doing something worse, but that fact provides cold comfort when you feel like their personal scullery maid. Here are four coping tips when it comes to the lazy teenagers versus frustrated parents conflict. 

1. Pay Allowance by Commission 

Your household doesn’t have to become a proponent of the universal basic income just because tradition says you should give your kids an allowance each week. If you want to motivate them to do something for their money, consider implementing a commission-based chore system instead of a weekly stipend. 

Such a system has the advantage of transferring ownership of the work from you to them. After all, you could nag your teen endlessly about what they “should” do to earn their keep, but why waste your breath? A chart of chores on your fridge with certificates listing the dollar amounts each one is worth lets your lazy teenager decide how much they want to earn. 

You get to decide if typical chores like cleaning their room nets your teenager a modest amount of, say, $.50. Scrubbing the toilets might be worth $5 and mowing the lawn $10 to $20, depending on the size of your plot. 

You can modify this method however you like to make it suit your needs. For example, you might decide to go with a combination stipend/commission approach if you typically give your kids lunch money instead of brown-bagging it. Alternatively, you might want to cover their basic needs like food while letting them earn commission only for wants like video games.

2. Have the Higher Education Talk

College is expensive, but debt is a challenging concept for many adolescents to grasp. They might have delusions that they can strike it rich and pay back their student loans with ease — you probably know a far different reality. 

The average student loan debt in America tops out at more than $30,000 — the equivalent of a new car or a very nice downpayment on a home. If you are the frustrated parent of a lazy teenager, point out that most people only have one degree, car and house, and paying for one could prevent them from purchasing another. 

You don’t want to frighten them with tales of seniors having their social security checks garnished to pay off outstanding student loan debt. However, you want to prepare them for fiscal reality, not with dire threats but a sit-down, logical conversation about economic realities. 

3. Let Them Earn Their Privileges

What does your teenager covet most? Have they been begging you to attend a Friday night party that you feel safe letting them attend? Why not let them earn the privilege? 

When you’re the frustrated parent of a lazy teenager, you want to avoid arguments. Imagine how you would feel if your significant other started giving you arbitrary orders like, “don’t touch that, or I’ll take away your car keys.” It probably wouldn’t take long before you triggered a knock-down, drag-em-out battle. 

Instead, address your teen like the adult they will be soon. Explain that if you don’t get yourself out of bed and to work every day, you take away the car keys from yourself — by not having money for gas. Gently explain that while you don’t want to make their choices for them, they need to realize that their actions — or inactions — have consequences. 

4. Show Them a Sample Budget 

Many teenagers have little idea how expensive life is. As a parent, you want to shield your youngest from harsh economic realities, but it’s okay to give older, lazy teenagers an inside view. 

When you make your household budget, share it with your children. For example, if they currently earn minimum wage at a part-time job, $20 an hour might sound like a king’s ransom. Have them do a housing search and calculate how many hours they would have to work at that rate just to afford their rent — not food, car insurance, utilities or any other necessity. 

This exercise might bring you closer together. After all, if your teenagers perceive that you’re rolling in cash and not sharing, it can breed resentment. Once they see that you’re doing the best you can with what you have, they’re less likely to pitch a tantrum when you tell them that you can’t afford to send them on their senior class London trip, as much as you wish you could. 

In the Lazy Teenager VS. Frustrated Parents Battle, Try These 4 Coping Tips 

If you are a frustrated parent battling a lazy teenager, you have your work cut out for you. Use these four coping tips to motivate them without threats and tears. 

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