The history of a deal

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.

5 thoughts on “The history of a deal

  1. Thank you. What I realise now is the reason his chatter was so dreary was he was in a dreary place – and very stuck! He couldn’t see a way out. He lacked motivation. And because he stayed up late into the night he had no energy during the day to do anything about it.

    I did what I did because I saw it as such a waste. His parents were focusing on the problems rather than a solution and anyway they were too emotionally involved. Although related I was sufficiently distant (and an unknown) so he took everything I said at face value without hunting for some imagined hidden agenda!

    It worked! And that’s the main thing!

  2. Hi Caroline,
    Thanks so much for offering the opportunity to ask your wise readers advice, and for offering your own.

    Hm, where do you start something like this? My boyfriend, A., and I have been together for over four years. We are both still rather young, he is 25 and I am 26, so I always believed we would grow into our relationship. That is, our relationship would grow with us when we graduated from University and we would be functioning adults together. That never really happened for us. Fours years ago we decided that I would get a full time job and A. would pursue his MA. It was a solid plan at the time, but in February of the year A. was in his MA I severely hurt my back, and subsequently had a two level spinal fusion in March of 2011. I am still not recovered from that and am still on benefits from Workman’s Compensation. But back to A., he graduated in Aug of 2010 and has worked about four months since. I have been supporting us off of benefits.
    I have tried talking to him, I have sat down with a well thought out budget for the month and showed him on paper that we can’t afford our life. And I have been very patient, but it has gotten to the point where me mentioning a job makes him shut down and withdraw. I understand that he is a bit down on himself because after his MA he tried to get a good job… To no avail. And it has just gotten worse and worse. I don’t know how to make him see that I need his help financially if we are going to continue living together. I could easily support myself, but two people is a hard thing to do. I am hesitant to offer an ultimatum as I have not been the easiest person to live with since my injury. I feel so much guilt for getting hurt… But really I shouldn’t. Anyway, I am just saying that I know there are definitely things that I need to work on and one of those things is the depression I have settled so snugly into.

    Any advice, ideas or thoughts, Oh Wise Blog Readers? 😛
    Thanks so much for anything you do offer, and thank again, Caroline, for allowing me to summarize. If you want to read more, you can access my blog by clicking on my name. (I have temporarily made it public, but unsearchable, to aid in providing info about this plea for help.
    Best,
    xo -S.

  3. Ultimatetums are often not the best way forward. Especially if it is get a job by Friday or go.

    People backed into a corner do odd things. In fact they often do the opposite just to prove a point.

    You need to develop a cunning strategy like C did. Which makes the steps more manageable.

    One thing I do know. That he should be prepared to take any job. Once working and employers see he is reliable eyc. It gets much easier to move on. Hopefully to a job which is more suitable for his skills
    Good luck

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