I was just bringing my 5 y/o home from daycare when I noticed my 17 y/o son just up the street along with some of his friends.  I waved and one of his friends waved back.  Then I noticed that my son's car was nose-to-nose with one of his friend's car.  Thinking his friend needed a jump start I walked up after ensuring the 5 y/o was in the house.  As I walked up I noticed my son's front driver side tire was flat.  I don't remember teaching him how to change a tire so I asked him if he was getting out the spare and the jack.  After some moving stuff around (2 12" woofers for one) he got out the the spare while I got the jack out.  He removed the wheel trim and I started loosening the nuts.  He told me to use my hands to break them loose and I told him to let me do it my way.  After I got started jacking up the car I noticed that he was in back of the car talking to his friends.  Now I spent a couple of hours in the garage getting it prepped for jacking up some ceiling joists and my knees were hurting (I'd also barked my shin on a 4x4).  I told him he needed to help as he needed to learn how to change a tire.  He then told me that he already knew how to change a tire he just didn't want to do it.  I got up leaving the jack where it was and told him I was leaving as I had other things to do.

When I was younger I would have been embarrassed to have an 'old' man changing a tire for me especially if I already knew how to do it.  I have tried to raise him up to be self sufficient but apparently that lesson has not taken hold.  I'm not sure where I've gone wrong but somehow I've raised a young man that feels no shame in taking advantage of others.  I do not want my 5 y/o to be that way.  I've always tried to have both of them do what they know how to do to be self sufficient.  Maybe it is because his mother lets him get away with things that I feel he shouldn't and she'll do things for him he could do on his own.  Unfortunately I have no say in that matter as I am his step-father so it is what it is.  My 5 y/o won't have that problem.

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I wonder if there might be more to it than true indifference.  He may be embarrassed to need your help.  He may be resentful about something else, or touchy about you disagreeing with him, or feel a need to look like a disaffected slacker to impress the other boys.  Which is a sad state of affairs, if true.

I don't know what to do about it, that's for sure.  He's 17; he's formed, or at least, you can't re-form him.

Well either or any way my wife is pissed at me for walking away "When He needed me".  My whole take is that he didn't "need" me, he knew how to do it and chose not to because he didn't feel like it.  I do not mind lending a helping hand but someone (anyone) expecting me to bail them out when they know how to do something, no that's not my style.  I'll give a hand up but hesitate to give a hand-out.

Sorry she was upset.  I think it's reasonable to take a 17-y-o at his word, especially in a situ that is not life-threatening.

He thinks he's handling it. You don't like his method, so he lets you do it.

At 17 there were lots of tasks that I thought my parents enjoyed, or they'd rather do themselves than teach me. I get these situations at work, too. Lots of tasks that the bosses usually enjoy, and do themselves, until they get really busy, and I have to jump in with no direction. I remember several times when Dad was showing Mom how to do something on the computer, with a time crunch, and he asked to just do it, rather than walk her through it.It may sound crazy that you'd prefer to change the tire by yourself than to have him help you, or to have him do it alone, but after all you volunteered. Maybe he thought you wanted to show off to his buds your faster method. Maybe he thought you enjoyed the task. There are chores I enjoy - up to a point. I usually like to cook, but not at 9pm, for example, but at any time of day, I may not be smiling while I do it. If there's some sort of error of filial piety here, it's in not reading your mind.

I failed.  A 17 y/o will be leaving my house, having spent the last 9 years with me, having a sense of entitlement and sense that others should do things for him that he can do for himself (what is the opposite of self-sufficiency?).  It's a tough thing to admit that I've failed him in that way.

Don't get so down on yourself man. In a couple of years, after the kid realizes what the world is really like will damn well fix his own flat tire, and he'll probably in some way come back and thank you for the things that you did teach him. All it takes is some patience. 

If you failed, I don't think that's how.  This story doesn't indicate that he expected you to change his tire or even wanted you to (after all, he didn't say, "Change my tire, OK?") but that he didn't want to join you when the alternative was talking to friends:  a very different thing.  

I recently ran a fast casual restaurant where the majority of the dinnertime staff is 16-18.

I find that your son's reaction is the same reaction I saw from my employees. Most of today's teenagers seem to be obsessed with instant gratification and doing as little as possible. With the advent of technology and the vast wealth of information available literally at their fingertips, teenagers today do not have to work to gain information. Teenagers assume that this translates to real life. They assume that the work will be done by someone else, and the can reap the benefits. There are exceptions, of course, but this is what I discovered to be generally true.

Don't feel that you have failed your son. He is simply reacting to his view of the world. As Travis said, he will more than likely come back to thank you for the lessons you taught him. I did. The only failure you could make is to not be there when he comes back.

Find me a 17 year old boy that isn't a little shit in some way or another. Good lord, I know at 37, I would have beatin the crap out of the 17 y.o. me


I like the way you handled it

I don't really think that you have done anything wrong with the way you handled the situation, any note worthy dad ,not to mention a man of distinction, would have helped his son if he thought he couldn't handle the task ahead, though it might have been more educational if you would have tried to teach him through and then let him do it on his own.

I think that the problem here is more to do with the fact that he has probbly never had to do anything on his own.

As soon as he moves out you're going to hear from him on how hard it is to be on his own, that he has to wash his own clothes, set up his own schedual, get out of bed on his own, fix his meals (he's going to be in really bad shape if he goes out to eat constantly).

I had to deal with the same problems when I stayed in medic training for three consecutive monthes, most guys around me just fell apart and had to have their hands held for the first three to four weeks.

expect him him to call asking how to after the first couple of weeks.

This is my take on the situation being only 5 years out of his bracket. These days it seems like taking the long way around (i.e. learning how to do something or actually doing it yourself) is considered to be a negative by today's youth. I was often ridiculed by my fellow peers by staying in the garage with my old man working on the brakes or changing the oil while they went on a leisurely excursion. Don't feel that you've failed him. I know that at 17 y/o I felt I had the world by the balls. A stint in the real world followed by a military tour, made me mature into the man I am today. And while you may not like that your son will have to learn the hard way, you will appreciate the fact that he will eventually walk up to you, swallow his pride, and thank you for showing him everything. We as men often find it difficult to give gratitude when it is due, just remember that a 17 y/o is almost a man at that age and in some cases is a man. He'll come around, so keep your head up.


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