Many years ago (about 35) I lived in London, renting a basement flat off a cousin of my Mum’s.
Her son was going through what can only be described as a ‘difficult stage’. He’d left school and was doing nothing. Nothing except irritating his mother and stepfather. He refused to look for work. His behaviour had become very irratic and physically abusive. When I turned up on the scene he’d just been allowed back home after spending some months with this biological father as a result of a particularly nasty assault on his step-father.
His abiding wish was to talk. However this seemed to happen at about 1.00am! He’d ring my bell and ask if I’d go for a walk. So we’d plod round the streets whilst he poured out all his angst! After a few of weeks of this I was getting somewhat tired! I of course had a job to go to. He’d could sleep in all day!
So I came up with a plan. I convinced my place of work they could do with some manual help. So the deal I struck was that if he turned up to work on time then I would walk with him on his late night ramble. But if he failed then I wouldn’t!
Day One – he failed to arrive on time. Appearing a good hour or more late. That evening when he turned up for his ramble I refused to go.
Day Two – he arrived late but not as late as the day before. I told him I would go for a walk but not after 10.30pm. We walked. He talked. Same stuff.
Day Three – he arrived on time. And he worked hard all day. In fact he wore himself out!. We didn’t go for a walk that evening!
Gradually over a couple of months or more he became a conscientious, reliable and popular member of the staff. He made friends. He discovered he liked helping people and mixing with people who were all busy and appreciated his assistance.
When I changed jobs a while later he followed and again became someone who was popular and appreciated. He developed a skill which he could use anywhere in the world and this gave him confidence to branch out and do more. And with his new found confidence his relationship with his mother and step-father improved.
The answer, without me realising at the time, was not to get angry with him. Not to punish. I listened (blimey it was repetitive and rather dreary!!) but I then introduced conditions to the listening which meant he had to give in order for me to listen.
The knock-on effect was more than I imagined it would be!
The reason I suddenly remembered this is one of my readers is having issues with her boyfriend who is not contributing to the upkeep of their home, not working and not even helping with anything. In fact from what I understand he’s just sitting about being thoroughly lazy!
I’d love to help her, help them. She feels the relationship is worth saving. Maybe she’d be happy to say more on my blog here. To tell me what strategies she’s already tried.