Ungrateful Teenagers

February 20, 2014 Updated: April 24, 2016

Dear Kathy,

     I have 2 teenage daughters who are incredibly ungrateful. We give them everything and they’re thankful for nothing. I thought it was just a phase, but year after year it only gets worse.

      They are both practically adults now and still expect us to take care of them and spoil them like children. What can I do to get them to realize how fortunate they are and become more independent?


Dear Beth,

     The bottom line is that we can’t change other people, only ourselves. The dynamic you describe is that you give, give, give, and your children take, take, take. I suggest that you change your side of the equation – stop giving so freely.

     Sit your girls down and explain, in a level-headed, non-judgmental manner, that you will be providing certain things for them and you expect them to provide the remaining wants and needs for themselves – by getting jobs.

     The likelihood is that they will react badly. Don’t take the bait, just stick to your guns and let life teach them a few lessons in independence and gratitude. When they complain to their friends and co-workers, trust me – they’ll get an earful. Additionally, they are more likely to weigh out the feedback they get from other people their own age than what they hear from their parents.

     I hope, both for your sake and theirs, that your daughters do come to the realization that they are blessed and ought to be consequently thankful. However, there is no magic formula to bring that about. Shore up your own support network and lean on those closest to you. You’ll need a lot of support during the transition as your daughters are forced to face reality.

All my best,