Ask the Bishop: Emily and Susan

Entitled Child?

"Emily needs to wake up, get a job and start being a responsible young adult. Emily is just downright lazy," says Susan of her 19-year-old daughter. She says Emily sleeps 10 hours a day, gets up at 1 or 2 in the afternoon and during the other 14 hours, she's either eating or playing on the Internet. Susan also gripes that Emily's room is a pigsty.

 

"She goes to school two days a week, so she has five days a week to do nothing," Susan continues. "Emily says she doesn't have to get a degree, because Albert Einstein never got get a degree and look at him."

 

According to Susan, Emily has $3 in her checking account, but she refuses to get a job. "She says jobs are boring, she's not going to work with food. She says, ‘Well, the economy's bad now, Mom. Nobody's hiring,'" Susan shares. "Emily got some money for Christmas. I was really hoping she'd save it for school. Instead, she spent it on wigs for comic book conventions."

 

Susan is at a loss for how to make her daughter become a responsible adult. "I've tried tough love on Emily. I ground her from TV; she plays on the computer. I ground her from computer; she reads a book. I ground her from a book; she sleeps. Nothing works with Emily," she says. "Emily needs a wake-up call, and I'm wondering, do I need one too?"

 

Emily says she's just doing things on her own terms. "My mother calls me lazy. I really don't see it as lazy; I see it as more laid-back," she says, admitting that she spends half the day playing video games. "My mother says I take advantage of people constantly. I personally don't see it as taking advantage but being resourceful."

 

[AD]One of Emily's favorite hobbies is going to fantasy and game conventions, where people dress up in costume. "My mother constantly tries to pick a fight with me about how much money I'm wasting on these conventions," Emily says. "My mom always says that you need to work the crappy jobs before you get what you want to do. She's suggested repeatedly that I just work at this Chinese restaurant up the street. Don't get me wrong, I love Chinese food, but I'm not one to be making it, serving it or cleaning up after it. With my current talent and ability, I don't mean to brag, but it would be a waste of time working at a Chinese restaurant."

"You won't get a job?" Dr. Phil asks Emily.

"The jobs she always suggests are things that I feel like I could be doing so much more with my time," she says.

"You seem like a really bright girl," Bishop Jakes says to Emily. "Who told you that growing up was optional?"

 

"It wasn't optional. I always knew I had to do it at some point, but I feel like it was really just thrust upon me," Emily says.

Dr. Phil isn't buying it. "How come you ain't got a job?" he asks Emily, noting that she's young, smart and able-bodied.

"I just feel like I want to get a job in the field that I'm good at, that I'm interested in," she says.

[AD]"Does she need to get a job?" Dr. Phil asks Susan.

 

"She has $3 in her checking account. We have no money saved for next semester for school," she says.

"What are you letting her get away with this for?" Dr. Phil asks Susan.

"I don't know what to do. How do you motivate a 19-year-old?" she asks.

"Cut off the money," Dr. Phil says.

"I cut off the money six months ago, but what do I do about her dad or her grandmother?" Susan asks.

Dr. Phil faces the camera and addresses Emily's relatives. "Dad, Grandma, you are crippling her if you're enabling her to get by without working in life. She's not learning a trade, she's not learning a skill, she's not getting the self-esteem that comes with making your way in the world," he says. "You're giving her money because it makes you feel better about you." He implores them not to give Emily money. "Necessity is the mother of invention. Stop enabling this child."

Bishop Jakes adds, "It's bigger than just giving money. Sometimes it's giving access to the Internet, giving access to equipment that they didn't pay for. At some point, there has to be a stop line." He continues, "You're actually funding her dysfunction."

 

[AD]Dr. Phil points out that Emily is getting room, board and transportation paid for by her parents.

Bishop Jakes addresses Susan. "It really starts early in life, giving them some sense of responsibilities. So now it kind of seems unnatural and unfair to her to kind of be thrust out there, but now she's got a reality check, that you have to have, ready or not," he says. Facing Emily, he continues, "You don't really work a job because you like it. If that were the case, most Americans would quit … There's this thing they give you at the end of the week called money, which really means a whole lot to you, and you begin to understand that the job you're working right now is not the ultimate. It's a step along the way to get you where you want to go."

Dr. Phil asks the Bishop, "Why don't people understand that they have to work to eat?"

"I think it's our fault as adults," Bishop Jakes says. "We grow up, and we want to give them everything we didn't get, but we give them everything except what it took for us to be who we are, which was the struggle and the hard time. Sometimes, you've got to digress, and go back and have just a little bit of tough love so that they begin to find out what life is really all about, or it's not fair to thrust them out into the real world." He adds that parents need to prepare their children for what they will face next in life.

"What am I supposed to do? Throw everything away and leave a mattress in her room?" Susan asks.

"Yes. Yes," Dr. Phil says. "You can go home, get all of those video games and controllers, put them in a box and send them to me. And when [Emily] sends me her first pay stub, I'll send her one back."

"That sounds like a plan," Susan says.

[AD]Turning to Emily, Dr. Phil asks, "You would get bored enough that you would go out and get a job doing anything, right?"

"I suppose, yeah," Emily says with a smile.

"You're going to get a job and go to work," Dr. Phil says to Emily. "You can either go willingly, or she can change the locks on the house, she can turn off the utilities to the house, and you can sit there, staring, watching the paint fade. You do what you have to do, so you might as well do it willingly."

"It was pretty much a wake-up call," Emily says.