Highschooler Who Doesn't Care

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  • abidnginhim

    Why is doing boring manual labor a bad thing? Or not an ideal or end goal? My son would prefer to find a job like this, just physical labor and a pay check. What about Dirty Jobs and Mike Rowe? 

    I realize that this is not the main point of the thread and not what the OP was asking but since it came up, I thought I’d ask.  


    Well, I’d like to preface this by saying – I am a job snob….  And I admit it.

    But in answer to your question about why is boring manual labour a bad thing?

    Well, it isn’t inherently bad.  There is an amount of need for people to do these jobs.  But there are problems with these jobs….

    – they don’t tend to pay well (although there are some that do because no one else wants to do them…..)

    – they are… boring.  I’d find that a major disadvantage, but maybe it doesn’t bother some people….

    – they can be hard on your body…. in that you may be prone to more injuries, and also the job will become more difficult as you age.  I think this can be a huge disadvantage.  My brother was in an occupation with a lot of lifting… when he hurt his back (not badly – but enough) he had to do some serious re-thinking about his future, and he went back to school. 

    – they are more prone to being replace by machines….




    Those are certainly valid points. I’m not sure I agree completely. And,  I’ve never heard of a job snob. 🙂

    My father and grandfather both worked jobs that were physically demanding and paid little. My father is retired now. His knees are shot and his fingers crooked with rheumatoid arthritis. Yet, my mom can’t keep him in the house. He still prefers to be outdoors working, doing something. All the time. His job was hard but never boring to him. And although there were some hard times financially, my dad provided for his family and we were happy and blessed.

    My brother and I both went college. My brother has a decent paying job now but he is miserable being chained to a desk all day and suffers from seasonal depression because he can’t be outside. My husband has a master’s degree and a job that pays well but with it comes a great deal of reponsibilty and stress and he is always, always working. 

    I just think there are other things to consider. It can be a personal choice. I don’t want my son to think that a simple job, doing manual labor, and bringing home a smaller paycheck is somehow a less than ideal choice if it makes him happy and puts food on the table.


    Ok, great points, but I think we’ve veered off topic. 😉

    It ultimately doesn’t matter what our opinions are about the best jobs. That argument is for another thread on another day. From what the OP said, I infer that her son isn’t doing much of ANYTHING. It sounds like his only interest is music, but he doesn’t have a creative outlet for that right now. And sure, you don’t have to graduate high school to be a dj, but it can be a tough scene to get in, especially if you want to stay out of bars or other places where rough partying are present.

    Back to the original topic, I think we all agree that manual labor–whether at home doing odd jobs or out in a supervised job–is what this young man needs. Right now, the immediate issue is not “What are you going to be when you grow up?” The immediate issue is one of character. Manual labor, Tae Kwon Do, constant supervision, prayer, family dinners–those are the things that can help work out negative character traits. If this young man doesn’t want to listen to his parents, they should enlist another adult whom their son respects and will listen to: a pastor, friend’s dad, family friend, grandpa, or a martial arts instructor.

    Once he turns his behavior around, he will probably naturally start thinking about his future. And if he’s had a taste of what life looks like when you are doing manual labor 7-8 hours a day, he just might turn his attention back toward his school work and start thinking about post-graduate education or an apprenticeship. Or, he might decide that he enjoys a hard day’s work and choose to pursue a manual labor type job.

    I just don’t think it’s helpful to our OP to argue about manual labor vs. office jobs and such.

    Blessings, ladies,



    I understand. I agree. I’m sorry. I have a teen boy that doesn’t particularly like school either. And one that was that way but has since graduated and gone on to college. I just felt manual labor was being suggested as a way to convince him he’d rather be studying so he could do something better. If he’d be inclined to choose that path it makes it appear the wrong choice. So, I’m not sure I’d approach it that way. The other suggestions, I agree with.


    I absolutely do not think that someone is “less” of a person or a success if they choose a career in a manual labor job. And I also don’t suggest using manual labor as a means to convince children that they would rather choose a career later on in a “more successful” field, such as medicine, law, or ministry, for example. 

    I was raised doing manual labor until I left home. We had a 32-acre horse ranch and also showed animals in 4H, as well as having a summer garden each year. My family didn’t have much money until I was almost out of the house, so we did everything around the house ourselves. There were plenty of stalls to muck, fences to build, repair, and paint, animals to feed and tend, horses to break and breed, a garden to weed and plant, pastures to mow, weeds to pull, and repairs to be made on our home inside and out. I am GRATEFUL for the way I was raised. I am so glad that my parents kept us busy doing these types of jobs instead of allowing us to grow up in front of the TV. I can remember having a friend over once or twice my entire childhood. On Saturdays, we were allowed to sleep in or maybe watch movies on Saturday nights, but every other minute we weren’t at school, doing homework, or eating meals, we were usually working. I had a summer job as soon as I got my driver’s license, and I worked until I became pregnant with my first child. 

    Working this way taught me work ethic which I have carried with me throughout my life. I am able to see when things need to be done and do them without procrastinating. I understand the importance of teaching my children this work ethic, and so they have had responsibilities around the house since they could walk. 

    It is not the WRONG choice to decide on a path that involves manual labor. But, manual labor can be a wonderful tool in a parent’s toolbelt to teach a child a number of character lessons:

    -yes, school work CAN be easier than manual labor, and a child who was lax in school previously might just decide he would rather be enjoying good books and learning interesting things than working in the hot sun or cold wind

    -working by oneself gives one plenty of time to think–think about life, choices, actions

    -manual labor gives one an opportunity to learn new skills, begin and end a project, and take pride in a job well done

    -a young person doing manual labor that is normally done by parents may well see that they have taken advantage of their parents to take care of things and that it is a lot harder than it appears and may cultivate an attitude of thankfulness rather than taking for granted

    I didn’t graduate from college. But it wasn’t my childhood of manual labor that caused me to choose college. I went to college because that’s what was expected of me. My parents paid for everything, and I was told numerous times that I wouldn’t be anything unless I graduated from college. All I ever wanted to be was a wife and mother, but I couldn’t convince my dad of that. (My parents definitely were hard to live with, but I am grateful for the life lessons I learned growing up on a ranch.) There is plenty of manual labor involved in being a wife and mother; but you all know that.

    So it’s unfair to say that manual labor is meant to turn someone against a lifetime of it. It is simply a valuable tool. It should not be used as the only tool, however; but should be used alongside the other things mentioned: family dinners, parental supervision, martial arts or another self-discipline, and so on. 


    So another thought.  You have a few options, the work thing, struggle with school, Tae Kwon do, what about getting a hold of a local radio station.  Talk to the DJ first and explain your son.  See if they might be willing to let him apprentice for a few weeks.  Talk to them about the requirements to get that job, do they need a degree. do they need math, science, history.  I hear our DJs discuss a lot, so they need to be well informed. Do they get to be DJs first or do they do other jobs first and then work their way up.

    I haven’t gone through this yet, so don’t know if it will work, but it might either steer him to what he really does want or give him alternatives. 

    Just another option for you.


    I honestly think that having him do HARD WORK of some sort, daily, on a regular schedule, without breaks for screen time and other privileges, would be best for building work ethic, discipline, and structure into his life. Whether it makes him long to study or not, once he has built certain character traits, he will hopefully study well and when he is told to not because it is easier work or a means to an end, but simply because it is required of him.


    Thank you, Sue! You expressed in few words what I felt like I could not get across with many. Smile


    I didn’t say that manual labor is meant to turn someone against a lifetime of hard work. On the contrary, I agree that manual labor builds character and should be used as such a tool by parents. But I felt it was not being presented that way. I thought it was being suggested as a way to convince him to study, to work him hard so that he will want to study instead and make sure he doesn’t have to have that kind of job. I am sorry if I misunderstood. Some of the comments seem to imply that those who choose such jobs do so only because they have no other choice and if possible, they would do something better. But, like I said, I guess I misunderstood. 

    I’m sorry to have derailed the topic. I will not say anything further on the topic. I only wanted to clarify what I meant. I’m usually a lurker….back to lurking for me. 


    I hope my post didn’t get us off on what you want to be when you grow up….. I was trying to impress the fact that since he had very little motivation that perhaps by seeing a bit of the reality in careers, he would then be able to readily know what he didn’t want and perhaps motivate him in school or in a passion. Yes he is into music and wants to be a DJ, but but what is plan B? I mean who here is doing exactly what they wanted to be at age 14? I was trying to inspire some passion or goals and perhaps some motivation just by not falling into those jobs that he despised.  

    He may need to see why school is important every kid is different and while it is easy for us to connect the dots for some kids, it just isn’t that clear. I am still agreeing with Lindsey. LOl



    I totally agree that manual labor is not a bad thing. And I think we do our kids a disservice by treating it like something not respectable. 

    My hubby is a software developer and makes a good living, but he’d much rather just run the farm. It’s not boring. It’s less stressful. And some people just like to be outside.

    That said, if I had a teenage boy refusing to do schoolwork, I’d have his dad deal with him. And I tink sending him  to work is a great idea. My uncle dropped out of school in highschool and that’s wat my grandparents did. One year of working a man’s job and he was ready to go back to school!


    Some of us definitely have the ability to speak clearly in few words and others of us may struggle more with that.  Hopefully everyone is given the benefit of the doubt that they are trying to be genuinely helpful to the OP and their comments taken as gracefully as possible.  🙂  

    On the way this topic has gone, I do think there is a huge difference between a young adult who works hard at the tasks he’s given, be it school, chores, etc. and then thinks about the skills he has and what he wants for his life and makes his own decision about what type of job he will pursue to support his own family vs.  a young adult that doesn’t care to do his school work, won’t help mom and dad around the house, wants to spend all his time on screens, and then says, well I’m just going to be an xyz.  One of them should be commended, the other needs a reality check.  I think most of us were assuming we were offering suggestions for the second child. 


    Here’s a little more indepth to my situation.


    My boy is 14.  He is my stepson, and he schools between his home here with his Dad and I, and his Mom’s.  I don’t go into that situation a lot, because unless you live a blended family life, there’s a lot you can’t understand (I don’t mean that offensively).  I can control what happens on our time with him, but not the other.


    We have tried many of these things.  We’ve taken EVERYTRHING away.  He’s been in different sports.  He’s been given tons and tons of manual labor.  My hubby and I have done all of these things and they’ve just backfired on us. 


    Oh, when there are two sets of parents involved, you are limited in so many ways. If you can’t all the parents together, you probably have only one tool, prayer!

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