What to Tell Teens Who Complain About Being Bored


teenagersThe teen years are filled with uncertainty, nail biting worry, and questionable behavior ... for parents. Kids can make us nuts; teens finish us off. They are these able-bodied almost adults running loose often without the ability to make sensible decisions. And many of those bad decisions come when teens are bored. Which they almost always seem to be.

I was reading the book Five Little Monkeys With Nothing to Do by Eileen Christelow to my kids and thought this is perfect! My little ones will learn that you can't ever be bored -- there are always rugs to beat dirt out of, rooms to be cleaned, and berries to be picked for mama. Great message, but the book is for the wee ones who clearly forget the sentiment once teenage brain takes over. Well, Northland College Principal John Tapene took the words he heard from a judge who often deals with troubled youth and shared them in a very clear way, maybe even harsh way.

Always we hear the cry from teenagers "What can we do, where can we go?"

My answer is this: Go home, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons, and after you've finished, read a book. Your town does not owe you recreational facilities and your parents do not owe you fun.

The world does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy and talent so that no one will be at war, in sickness and lonely again. In other words, grow up, stop being a cry baby, get out of your dream world and develop a backbone not a wishbone. Start behaving like a responsible person. You are important, you are needed. It's too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday. Someday is now and that somebody is you!

Well, well, well. He said something all of us thought, but maybe not enough of us say. I also think so adults would benefit from these words as well. We need to be humble and appreciative. There is always something to do ... beyond putting on the television and mindlessly watching it for hours and hours and hours day after day. We shouldn't wait for hand-outs -- working hard is not just good for getting things you want and need, but it's good for the soul.

More from The Stir: 5 Ingenious Tricks That Will Make Lazy Teens Do Chores

Though I do think we need a backbone AND a wishbone. Wishing is dreaming. Dreaming is often how amazing things happen, how creativity blossoms, which I think is vital for kids, even adults. We should never stopped dreaming, aspiring, and then making that reality.

Still, it's tough to say how some teens would react to these words. Some may just shrug it off because of how the tone would be read. We may need to focus more on the inspirational than the "do this" tactic.

What do you think of these words for teens? Too harsh? Or needed?


Image via crazytales562/Flickr

behavior, issues


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ittyb... ittybit2012

My kids know better. I limit tv and electronics. Chores have to be done before fun can be had. I say something very similar to my children and have for years. They know saying "I'm bored" means that they could end up doing baseboards, cleaning blinds, windows, etc.

Rebecca Peterson

I've always had this mentality. Even when I was a teenager. I made coworkers of mine hate me because they'd complain that there was nothing to do. Okay, so the place we worked at barely passed sanitation regs, and they have "nothing to do" ha! That store by the time I left got an 89 on the inspection before I left. I even tell my kids you're bored, here, help me. The best way to raise productive adults is to raise productive children. It's only "punishment" if a parent makes it that way. But if they have energy to be naughty, they have the energy to help out around the house they live in.

the4m... the4mutts

Rebecca- good for you! I've even got my 2.5 yr old doing his version of "helping" when he's following me around whining or whatever. "Aahww whatsa matter? Here, come help mommy put the laundry in the hamper"

Sometimes it is a punnishment. If you're bad, you might just have to clean up dog poop *not their regular chore* or wash your SIBLINGS clothes, and none of your own. Plus fold it and give it to them nicely. It all starts early.

nonmember avatar cheryl

my mother told me the same thing when i was a kid. whenever i said i was bored she gave me a dustrag or a toilet brush. i learned quickly to amuse myself. when i had kids i did it to them also. it saved a lot of whining for all of us.

jacks... jacksmom6994

i grew up with my mom giving me the same words as the judge's, mostly that the world doesn't owe me anything and i'm the one who has to pay up. i turned out ok. during summer when school's out we do our chores before going out to play or hang out. most of my friends are doing the same at their houses that it didn't matter much at all. sometimes we would even help each other out with some task our parents gave us and called it fun.

nonmember avatar Michelle

I'm sorry, is this the kind of children we are raising today? Prima587, I assume if you have children you are one of those that doesn't give a crap about making them into productive, successful adults with a comment like that. And @Pinkmani--owe them WHAT? The American "Dream" as you put it, was acquired by HARD, HARD WORK, not sitting around feeling entitled. If your kids at ANY age are complaining they are bored, guess what? It's YOUR fault! Especially teenagers...do people forget that 15-year olds ARE old enough to get a JOB?!!? Or is bagging groceries just so beneath teenagers these days? What absolute bullshit. Here's an idea...be a parent! Mr. Tapene is obviously from a dying breed of us parents who still find it important to engage ourselves in our children's lives. Anyone who thinks his words are harsh shouldn't be a parent. PERIOD.

nonmember avatar Michelle

4mutts...You have four VERY lucky children. At least I know there will be five more kids (mine included) on this planet with purpose and direction :)

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