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I have a bit of a problem concerning my older teen.

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
I hope I can get some unbiased advice here about this situation. I have an 18 year old college freshman who lives on campus. This weekend he is home (I "made" him come home) to get his haircut and apply for summer jobs. I know for a fact he really didn't want to do this. I am giving him money for the haircut (he doesn't have any, he blew all of his money from all of his former jobs) and he is not showing any interest at all in being motivated. For the record, I'm not requiring him to get a haircut, he has told me he needs one.

When he is home, he does nothing except lie on the couch. He is basically acting like a spoiled child. He has not always been like this. He has worked part time since he was 16 and used to be ambitious.

I do not want to start throwing down demands, deadlines, or idle threats. We pay for the college expenses that his scholarships, grants and financial aid didn't cover. I have told him that after 4 years, our responsibility for his education is over. Yesterday he was shocked when I told him that if he (and he does) wants to go for his Master's, he will have to work and go to school on his own.

I have paid for pretty much everything so far as long as he kept up his grades and stayed out of trouble, which he has done.

I have a problem with an 18 year old who doesn't want to go out and earn his own money. He does not have a car, but will need one soon. I have offered to pay a fixer upper if he splits the cost with us. He doesn't seem to care too much about this, either. My attempts to show him the realities of our financial situation are met with disinterest.

I am not a happy camper right now.
post #2 of 41
At 34 feel closer to 18 than I feel my ds1 is at almost 15! I'm not yet in your boat but I have a listless teen who has begun to (feign?) disinterest in a lots of things and I'm trying to find opportunities for us to connect. My thoughts may or may not be relevant.

Just being at home lulls you into a sense of security that everything is being looked after and the familiar surroundings make being a 'child' very easy. Maybe his attitude right now is a comfortable bubble of those feelings combined with fear at the realisation that things may never be so cosy again.

Can you get out of the house and have a sit-down-no-distractions-talk about where you all go from here? Or go and look at cars and do some sums together to see how you could make that happen?

Just because you won't bankroll him doesn't mean that you won't be there for him in lots of other ways: I have never had any money from my parents since I left home at 18 but they were always hugely supportive of me and shown their love and care.
post #3 of 41
I have a dear friend who, once her kiddos went away to college they never moved back in. They found other summer arrangements - summer school, working at a national park, travel, worked full time, etc. and paid for their own living expenses.

Sounds good to me :-) The going back and forth thing has to be really confusing. When you're home, you're a kid, but when you're away at school you're a grown up on your own (for the most part). I think you two need to come to a conclusion about summer plans or he could be risking any financial help from you once school starts again this fall.

BTW, unless he's pre-med or studying engineering, college isn't that tough especially if he isn't working during the school year so the idea of him needing "time off" is totally lame, IMHO :-)
post #4 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by alllyssa View Post
BTW, unless he's pre-med or studying engineering, college isn't that tough especially if he isn't working during the school year so the idea of him needing "time off" is totally lame, IMHO :-)
Um.... That is very individual. Some people struggle with what most would consider "easy" classes, even smart people.

It sounds as though either he is exhausted-- even if exhausted because he wasted his energy on partying or something-- or something else has changed. I know I have seen a lot of really ratty-looking undergrads around campus recently (during this last week of classes when no one sleeps).
post #5 of 41
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice.

I know for a fact he isn't partying. He is a classical music major, so he does have a bit of a busy schedule, but it's not overwhelming.

The whole thing about bankrolling him is kind of a moot point. I have told him that we will help him with whatever college expenses are not covered by the grants, aid, scholarships, etc. He is a good student.

I am very concerned about his lack of ambition. I believe, with all my heart, that he is suffering some sort of depressive condition, but I cannot force him to seek help. I've talked to him about this and he is not willing. He denies he is depressed,

Depressed or not, he needs to carry some of the weight of this situation. I am not going to finance "extra" things.
post #6 of 41
I think you may be worrying prematurely. I am also the parent of a college freshman, and she does exactly the things you describe when she is home. My guess is that he has heard you, and is just re-charging his batteries while he is at home ('cause in my opinion, college is hard). My advice to you would be to have the conversation, make sure he knows that his car, summer living expenses, (and grad school) will be on him, and then leave it alone. If he doesn't line up a summer job now, chances are he will the first time he asks you for money and you remind him of your conversation.
post #7 of 41
My husband (24, known him since 19) lays around doing nothing every chance he gets for free time. At those times he doesn't want to discuss doing anything. But when it's time to go to school, go to work, do a difficult project on the house or for fun, he works hard. Starting things is a big deal and he procrastinates. He will not be easily convinced to do anything either he has to decide first thing in the morning he's tackling this or I have to throw a fit and tell him step by step you're doing This now. but when he starts he does not stop not once. His dad and stepmom saw him as lazy, I try not to but at times I see him as lazy too, because it sure does look like it sometimes.
post #8 of 41
Can you just, let him do whatever, but not give him money for non-college things?

If he doesn't get a job during the summer, then he doesn't get any money. You'll feed him 3 meals a day, but he's on his own for money for fun, clothes, haircuts, snacks, etc.

I would still expect him to help out around the house (dishes, yard work, whatever is normal in your household).

You may also want to think about what you expect from him after college. Can he come back home to live? if so, will he need to pay rent? have a job?

He really may just be tired. I was usually exhausted at the end of the semester and would spend the first week pretty much passed out asleep. I didn't party, but I worked really hard in all my classes and there was always some drama going on with friends. On campus life is often go, go, go all the time. even for those kids who aren't "partying" all the time.



~Julia
post #9 of 41
I don't think your son's current lack of ambition is a predictor of anything.

I won't deny that there are people out there who sit around all day and never "grow out of it," sadly. But I think there's more people out there who kind of "stalled out" at around 18. I was one of them.

I graduated high school at 17. Didn't get into my first or second choice college, and kind of gave up. Went home and enrolled in the local state school. My parents paid it all, books and everything. I got B's the first semester and didn't study at all. I mean, I did SQUAT. The second semester I stopped showing up for class. To this day I can't explain what the hell was going on in my head. I actually would drive to campus and then just not go to class. It wasn't a real decision, like "I don't want to go anymore." It would be more like "OK, it's time for XYZ class... here I am... maybe I should go see if so-and-so is in her room or something, I can always catch that class on Tuesday." I got a failing notice in the mail and my parents opened it, and they were not exactly thrilled iwth me, but they didn't go overboard. My mom went with me the next day to unenroll me. They didn't put a bunch of guilt on me, thank god.

I was in fact depressed during that time. I had a crappy job at a drugstore, but when my mom's best friend was dying in another state, I quit the job and went with my mom to stay with that family for a while to help out (the friend miraculously lived). When I came back, I didn't get another job. I sat in the house all the time. I watched a lot of tv, played some computer games. I think this went on maybe 2-3 months. Finally, my mom SUGGESTED - i.e. didn't pressure or anything, just plain suggested - that I look at getting a job through a temp agency. I figured what the hell, went, applied, and got a nice little office job for about 6 months. I moved into an apartment near the college campus with a friend (though I didn't go to college anymore). I paid my rent, food, gas, all my expenses. When my parents moved out of state, I went with them, and thus moved "back home" but I got a really big-shot city job and was a responsible person by then. Then I went back to college, got married, got another big-shot job, had a kid, blah blah blah. I promise you, I'm extremely responsible, and I am a very productive person.

The family friend who almost died, her daughter was similar when she graduated high school. She went to school (and actually went, unlike me, lol) but changed her major like 3 times then dropped out. She wanted to spend the summer in Europe, but that never happened. After a year or two of slopping around, having some crappy part-time jobs but not being really motivated, she finally pulled it together and decided she wanted to be a nurse, and now she's almost done with the program and doing well, no sign of changing her mind.

I think a lot of people go through 12+ years of "mandatory" school and look forward to "freedom" so much. And then it's a shock when they are out of high school and they realize they don't have a clue what they want to do. When they have the ability to make some actual choices - what do I want to major in? What kind of job do I want? etc. - they just don't know. 17-19 is sort of an aimless period. I know so many people who, during that time, picked pointless and fleeting majors - at that age, who knows they want to be engineers or accountants or teachers?

Wow, that was a long-winded post. You know what to do, but all I will say is that I'm grateful my folks allowed me the space to be aimless for a bit. I would not have expected them to finance any BS (and I would have understood if they asked me to pay back the tution for that second semester, though they never did) but I think nagging will never, ever, ever get someone motivated.
post #10 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post
I don't think your son's current lack of ambition is a predictor of anything.

I won't deny that there are people out there who sit around all day and never "grow out of it," sadly. But I think there's more people out there who kind of "stalled out" at around 18. I was one of them.

I graduated high school at 17. Didn't get into my first or second choice college, and kind of gave up. Went home and enrolled in the local state school. My parents paid it all, books and everything. I got B's the first semester and didn't study at all. I mean, I did SQUAT. The second semester I stopped showing up for class. To this day I can't explain what the hell was going on in my head. I actually would drive to campus and then just not go to class. It wasn't a real decision, like "I don't want to go anymore." It would be more like "OK, it's time for XYZ class... here I am... maybe I should go see if so-and-so is in her room or something, I can always catch that class on Tuesday." I got a failing notice in the mail and my parents opened it, and they were not exactly thrilled iwth me, but they didn't go overboard. My mom went with me the next day to unenroll me. They didn't put a bunch of guilt on me, thank god.

I was in fact depressed during that time. I had a crappy job at a drugstore, but when my mom's best friend was dying in another state, I quit the job and went with my mom to stay with that family for a while to help out (the friend miraculously lived). When I came back, I didn't get another job. I sat in the house all the time. I watched a lot of tv, played some computer games. I think this went on maybe 2-3 months. Finally, my mom SUGGESTED - i.e. didn't pressure or anything, just plain suggested - that I look at getting a job through a temp agency. I figured what the hell, went, applied, and got a nice little office job for about 6 months. I moved into an apartment near the college campus with a friend (though I didn't go to college anymore). I paid my rent, food, gas, all my expenses. When my parents moved out of state, I went with them, and thus moved "back home" but I got a really big-shot city job and was a responsible person by then. Then I went back to college, got married, got another big-shot job, had a kid, blah blah blah. I promise you, I'm extremely responsible, and I am a very productive person.

The family friend who almost died, her daughter was similar when she graduated high school. She went to school (and actually went, unlike me, lol) but changed her major like 3 times then dropped out. She wanted to spend the summer in Europe, but that never happened. After a year or two of slopping around, having some crappy part-time jobs but not being really motivated, she finally pulled it together and decided she wanted to be a nurse, and now she's almost done with the program and doing well, no sign of changing her mind.

I think a lot of people go through 12+ years of "mandatory" school and look forward to "freedom" so much. And then it's a shock when they are out of high school and they realize they don't have a clue what they want to do. When they have the ability to make some actual choices - what do I want to major in? What kind of job do I want? etc. - they just don't know. 17-19 is sort of an aimless period. I know so many people who, during that time, picked pointless and fleeting majors - at that age, who knows they want to be engineers or accountants or teachers?

Wow, that was a long-winded post. You know what to do, but all I will say is that I'm grateful my folks allowed me the space to be aimless for a bit. I would not have expected them to finance any BS (and I would have understood if they asked me to pay back the tution for that second semester, though they never did) but I think nagging will never, ever, ever get someone motivated.
Ughh, this was me exactly! Although my parents had a considerebly different reaction. I wish it was more accepted for teens to take a gap year or two before college just to figure out what it is that they want to get out of life.
post #11 of 41
Um... Ok... Uh... as a previous 18 year old full time college student... I completely understand where your son is comming from. try to think of it this way...
12 units = full time
1.5 hours IN CLASS/week = 1 unit (x12 = 18 hours/week IN CLASS)
+/- 1 hour / Day HOMEWORK = 3 units of homework (x4 = 12 units = 4 hours/day, x7 (yes 7) = 28 hours/week on HOMEWORK)

= 46 hours/week on class assignments

Quote:
He is a classical music major, so he does have a bit of a busy schedule, but it's not overwhelming
add an add'l 2-4 hours/day rehersal = 14-28 hours week (we'll say 21 as a happy medium) so = 21 hours/ week PRACTICING
so now he's "working" 67 hours a week...even at 14 hours a week, that's STILL 60 hours a week of "work"...
and you're right, there is a huge tendency towards kids getting really REALLY depressed especially their first year away from home...


Maybe you don't feel like you should pay for extras, and you're right, there's not a requirement for you to do so. But also, remember that they are now saying "21 is the new 18" and "25 is the new 21"... in other words, he's shown that he has the ability to be responsible, but he's not really ready to be out on his own. He still needs his parents...
In highschool, my freshman english teacher told the parents that we (her new students) were just like toddlers, needed just as much sleep as toddlers, and needed the same parenting as toddlers and were going through the same developmental stage of autonomy/dependency just in a bigger package... She went on to remind parents that we needed love and understanding and that we would hopefully have to relive this stage again in 4-5 years as we entered college.
in other words, your son is just needing you and yet trying to find his feet in a very big and scary world. He did it in his home, then he did it in his town, now he is doing it in his state... soon he will be at the place where he is doing it in his country, getting his big job, becoming part of the economy, being the man he is becomming, eventually finding his place in his world...
If he comes back over the summer, it's normal (think of when he was two and he would run back to your lap when something was new and fun/exciting/scary/different/etc this is the same thing, bigger package), it's also perfectly normal for you to say, "look you made it through your first year of college, we're so proud of you!!! Now, go get a job for the summer so you can have spending money next year." (you could even throw a "first year graduate party"-that freshman year is hell & finishing it is a big deal.)
Your son isn't going to flunk out of life. He needs your love, support, and guidence, just like he has all along. I hear so many "adults" (because i still refuse to say I am part of that catagory) referring us "kids" to the song "You're Gonna Miss This", well, you're gonna miss this. Soon he won't be coming home, asking you to be his safe haven when the world is a little overwhelming... He'll have his own home, his own haven, and he won't need you to be there to hold his hand.
So for right now, take him out front and throw a ball, go for icecream and a movie together, go for a walk... and start to build that relationship you want ten years down the road when you are waiting for your first grandchild to be placed in your arms - and waiting for him to call you and ask why the baby is crying and pooping and whether he needs to feed it or change it first and why (oh WHY) is mama crying and and andand... what is he supposed to do?!??!?

and:
Quote:
I wish it was more accepted for teens to take a gap year or two before college just to figure out what it is that they want to get out of life.
Me too!!


edited to say.... maybe it's not overwhelming because he doesn't have a job on top of it all... Just a thought... when I got a job on top of school my freshman year, I ended up having to drop half of my classes because i was so busy... then cutting myself because I felt like a failure because it didn't seem like it was that much to anyone else and I should be able to handle it... BUT I did have a really crappy support system too. Eventually I ended up working (15 minutes shy of) full time & still going to school part time, providing my own transportation through pedal power because it was faster then the public bussing system which is included with most school ID's for free...
post #12 of 41
When I finished my semesters I never moved back home, I was living with now DH at the time. I took 2 weeks off to lay around & decompress before looking for a job. I needed that downtime to get re-motivated.

I agree on not paying for his non-college extras as they are just extras, but beyond that he is an adult. i'd sit him down & explain to him that you aren't paying for his non-college extras while he's on break, that if he wants do to do anything that requires money he needs to get a job. If you want him to get a job to save money then tell him he has 2 weeks to relax & then he needs to get a job.
post #13 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by want2bmoms View Post
Um... Ok... Uh... as a previous 18 year old full time college student... I completely understand where your son is comming from. try to think of it this way...
12 units = full time
1.5 hours IN CLASS/week = 1 unit (x12 = 18 hours/week IN CLASS)
+/- 1 hour / Day HOMEWORK = 3 units of homework (x4 = 12 units = 4 hours/day, x7 (yes 7) = 28 hours/week on HOMEWORK)

= 46 hours/week on class assignments


add an add'l 2-4 hours/day rehersal = 14-28 hours week (we'll say 21 as a happy medium) so = 21 hours/ week PRACTICING
so now he's "working" 67 hours a week...even at 14 hours a week, that's STILL 60 hours a week of "work"...
and you're right, there is a huge tendency towards kids getting really REALLY depressed especially their first year away from home...


Maybe you don't feel like you should pay for extras, and you're right, there's not a requirement for you to do so. But also, remember that they are now saying "21 is the new 18" and "25 is the new 21"... in other words, he's shown that he has the ability to be responsible, but he's not really ready to be out on his own. He still needs his parents...
In highschool, my freshman english teacher told the parents that we (her new students) were just like toddlers, needed just as much sleep as toddlers, and needed the same parenting as toddlers and were going through the same developmental stage of autonomy/dependency just in a bigger package... She went on to remind parents that we needed love and understanding and that we would hopefully have to relive this stage again in 4-5 years as we entered college.
in other words, your son is just needing you and yet trying to find his feet in a very big and scary world. He did it in his home, then he did it in his town, now he is doing it in his state... soon he will be at the place where he is doing it in his country, getting his big job, becoming part of the economy, being the man he is becomming, eventually finding his place in his world...
If he comes back over the summer, it's normal (think of when he was two and he would run back to your lap when something was new and fun/exciting/scary/different/etc this is the same thing, bigger package), it's also perfectly normal for you to say, "look you made it through your first year of college, we're so proud of you!!! Now, go get a job for the summer so you can have spending money next year." (you could even throw a "first year graduate party"-that freshman year is hell & finishing it is a big deal.)
Your son isn't going to flunk out of life. He needs your love, support, and guidence, just like he has all along. I hear so many "adults" (because i still refuse to say I am part of that catagory) referring us "kids" to the song "You're Gonna Miss This", well, you're gonna miss this. Soon he won't be coming home, asking you to be his safe haven when the world is a little overwhelming... He'll have his own home, his own haven, and he won't need you to be there to hold his hand.
So for right now, take him out front and throw a ball, go for icecream and a movie together, go for a walk... and start to build that relationship you want ten years down the road when you are waiting for your first grandchild to be placed in your arms - and waiting for him to call you and ask why the baby is crying and pooping and whether he needs to feed it or change it first and why (oh WHY) is mama crying and and andand... what is he supposed to do?!??!?

and:


Me too!!


edited to say.... maybe it's not overwhelming because he doesn't have a job on top of it all... Just a thought... when I got a job on top of school my freshman year, I ended up having to drop half of my classes because i was so busy... then cutting myself because I felt like a failure because it didn't seem like it was that much to anyone else and I should be able to handle it... BUT I did have a really crappy support system too. Eventually I ended up working (15 minutes shy of) full time & still going to school part time, providing my own transportation through pedal power because it was faster then the public bussing system which is included with most school ID's for free...

Wow, this is quite an eye opener for me. It also almost made me cry...
post #14 of 41
I have just a few thoughts..

Is he sure he wants to be a classical music major? Does he feel pressured into this? Could he be depressed? Lack of motivation, no longer finding joy in things you used to enjoy are signs/symptoms..

Good luck
post #15 of 41
Is there a reason he isn't going to summer school?

That might be an option - summer school instead of a summer job. It helps cut the number of semesters one is in school, which can end up saving money.

I attended school through summers, and graduated early.

It may be too late for this year, but you might keep it in mind for next year.

I remember I got my "P.E." requirements out of the way during summer - taking swimming! FUN! And I had great tans those summers.

Also, because the course load is usually lighter during the summer, it's an "easier" semester, less prone to overload. Classes are often smaller, easier to make friends and easier to get individual attention from the teachers.
post #16 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2mama View Post
I have just a few thoughts..

Is he sure he wants to be a classical music major? Does he feel pressured into this? Could he be depressed? Lack of motivation, no longer finding joy in things you used to enjoy are signs/symptoms..

Good luck

Yes, he is a music ed. major. This is somethign he has always wanted. I just asked him the other day about whether or not he wanted to change his major and he said no, so I can only assume this is still what he wants to do.

I definitely think depression is a big factor here, but at the age of 18, there is not much I can do. My son doesn't "believe in" psychiatry.
post #17 of 41
please try to encourage him to see someone. He sounds like a bright young man with lots of potential. I wouldn't want him to blow it because of a chemical imbalance. There is nothing wrong with having a mental illness, there is only something wrong with not treating it...... Let him read your post and tell him your concerned..
post #18 of 41
You said you "made" him come home for the weekend. So, I am thinking that school is not over yet and that he was not thrilled about coming home? Maybe he is preoccupied with finals. Maybe he just does not have any room to think of summer jobs yet. Maybe he needs to rest up and be a recluse for a bit. Maybe he is resenting that he is at home instead of at school doing what he prefers. Just a bunch of maybes I am throwing your way.

I remember having jobs during the summer, but I did not apply for them until the semester was completely over.

You said that he makes good grades, so I wouldn't worry too much. Why not let him finish the semester before talking to him about it again. When he really comes back home, then you can help him find a job (and some motivation).
post #19 of 41
Lazing around?
Sounds suspiciously normal...
It doesn't sound like a case of losing ambition or anything from what you posted.
post #20 of 41
Ohhhh my students are music majors and so am I. You know what, they really ARE more tired than most of the other students at college. The irregular performance/ rehearsal schedules are just whacked-out, and it's the same everywhere. Plus the practicing is physically demanding. I will bet money that he needs some extra sleep (plus what a pp said about if school isn't over yet, he probably is distracted/ worried) for a week or so before he can fully function again.
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