-=-Sandra, I read the phrases post, and all those seem intuitive to me. "Work ethic," however, doesn't seem to me to have a negative connotation. But maybe it has a positive connotation, so to *not* have it is assumed to be negative? -=-
The way it is used, of an individual have or not having "a worth ethic," is not its larger and original meaning. It's a phrase used without thought, analysis or understanding. It's a vague label for a set of.... qualities? beliefs? advantages? Do you want something so vague for your son, and do you think it (whatever "it" is) is something instilled by one's mother?
Clarity of thought is helped by clarity of language. Even when others aren't around to point at problematical terms and phrases, individuals can become more conscious of their thoughts by looking at, hearing, the words they're using to express those thoughts.
Rephrasing is untangling. If one cannot rephrase something, it very likely means they aren't clear on what they're talking about. When something vague or spoken from rote is turned into normal words the speaker/thinker actually uses well and clearly, it's like turning the lights on in a jumbly dark room.
There is an idea used around teaching, and science. It is attributed to Einstein and a few others, but the idea didn't come from any one person. It is that if you can't explain something simply, you don't understand it well enough [well enough to be talking about it, or well enough to teach it].
That principle applies WONDERFULLY well to discussions like these, though. Many times a question is asked that can be broken down to its elemental parts—the simpler ideas that the mom is REALLY worried about.
From this discussion, late December 2014: https://www.facebook.com/groups/303347574750/permalink/10152651916004751/