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Old 08-10-2009, 04:43 PM   #21
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You all are simply the best.

I really appreciate all the sage advice and feel like I can figure out some alternatives to my current approach (B&M, followed by a pity party).

I'm gonna have a serious talk with his dad to see where we can go. I like the choices discussion and bystander position. Sure I was more hands on before, but that worked for me too (not just him)...it's not working now so I need to change.

I am a nerd so it is hard to deal with a kid who is not of the same make up... I would have been registering at 4am on the dot if they let me...

My cousin is in the army now and is a good example of someone who screwed around, didn't listen to his parents, made his own choice to enlist and has shared his gained "perspective" with my son - so hope that will help remind him of his real choices!!
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Old 08-10-2009, 04:53 PM   #22
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In another thread, I was telling of my wife's nephew who spent a few years after high school as a beach bum. After perhap 5 years of vagabonding in the US and in Europe, he finally settled down, got married, and has been earning an honest living with some kind of a desk job. He never did go back to school, and appears to do OK. He was and is of the type with a short attention span and a hyperactive temperament. He couldn't sit still and schools drove him nuts! What he lacks in book smart, he makes up in street smart.
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Old 08-10-2009, 05:30 PM   #23
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...Of course this might require tough love - charging rent, food expenses, etc. as freebird suggested. If he is like some unmotivated people I have known and he has no reason to try to make something of himself, he will be thirty, employed off and on, and living in your basement eating your food. ...
I know of a real live example of this, not very far from my zip code. Employed more off than on (rarely), having been financially enabled since the age of 18 diapers by a misguided older family member. The person is 31 and still in the lazy teenager mentality mode. The litany of excuses could be sold to Comedy Central if there was ever a writer's strike.

Names have been changed to protect the guilty.
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Old 08-10-2009, 05:37 PM   #24
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One thing to find out is what HE is interested in. Younger son (now 20) is pretty bright, in middle school he was top of a great school district in math & science and I thought he might end up at CALTECH, happy stuff for a NASA dad. But he more or less regressed to the mean and became the Mohawk haired rock drummer in high school. He got admitted to a few UCs but not the one he wanted. He chose a state college because of its music program rather that better (more fun) location like San Diego. I initially talked him out of music as a major but after one term he switched into music. I am in psychic pain, I tell him about music jobs: "Do you want fries with that?" But he is serious and will practice for hours even on a day off. He HS friends are amazed, he is the only one who knows what he wants to do and did when he was in HS.
So I don't know what to do, he is happy, healthy, not in jail, GF is not pregnant and after 5 (!) years of college he will have a degree in music. He worked at Subway in HS and on campus in college some terms when his music schedule permitted. His school is mostly on my nickel but I am not inclined to withdraw financial support. Older son took 7 (!) years to get his BS but now has a MA, decent job, wife and our two grandchildren.
So back to the only element of advice from my story, find out what interests him and see if you can support it.
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Old 08-10-2009, 05:52 PM   #25
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Well, between our three and the nieces and nephews – another 15 – we have the entire range of overachievers to underachievers well represented. Hard to determine why, although one thing that strikes me is that the greatest overachievers seem to have both parents in sync and heavily involved early on (not my case nor my children’s).

Based on our extended family experience, conflict doesn’t lead to a positive outcome, nor does acquiesce, nor does just waiting for something to happen (seen all three). What does seem to have had effect is enabling the young adults to experience the results of their choices. No post-secondary education meant work, rent, and meeting standards at home – or moving out. Hard to do without conflict, especially hard when both parents aren’t in sync. This has had the most positive outcome when done with firm affection.

For us the underachievers have not become overachievers, but they all have realized that 1) they need more skills and knowledge to compete in the workplace, 2) they are now responsible to get what they need, 3) they had opportunities but not the maturity to take advantage, 4) life isn’t easy, and 5) the parents are actually ok.
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Old 08-10-2009, 06:02 PM   #26
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He has said he is interested in pursuing something related to physical training, becoming a coach or trainer, etc. I think that suits him given his interest and skills in basketball and social skills.

I think he just hasn't made the adjustment from high school, where even when you are screwing up they still have to take you and help you figure it out. Hope he will get that.

FYI, asked him this morning if he was going to visit the counselor to see if they had any insight on best chance classes to get wait listed on or any possible openings, and he had said yes (confidently of course) when I asked him what their hours were, of course he didn't know.

So this afternoon, after he came back in (i had assumed he was at the counselor) I asked if he found anything out - he said he didn't go. I asked why and he said because they close at 3pm... and that he would go tomorrow. He knows that every day he waits the less chance there is anything will be open, yet he waits...

Calmly (how unusual!) i said huh, sounds like you are making your own decisions, they are different from what I would do and it seems you are not keen on my advice, so good luck with that. FYI, if you are interested in what I think go ahead and ask, but it's not coming freely anymore. also, that his choices will end up having a consequence shortly, ie he won't get any classes or may lose support from us. We know the first year is the hardest, but the leeway will run out some day.

I'll let his dad step in beyond that but it was a refreshing flip of script from me...

I think his dad will have a hard time following through if we do have to play tough, but will see how it all goes...it was easy enforcing discipline on a tween or high school teen...this is the real stuff now!!!
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Old 08-10-2009, 06:21 PM   #27
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...
FYI, asked him this morning if he was going to visit the counselor to see if they had any insight on best chance classes to get wait listed on or any possible openings, and he had said yes (confidently of course) when I asked him what their hours were, of course he didn't know.

So this afternoon, after he came back in (i had assumed he was at the counselor) I asked if he found anything out - he said he didn't go...
The next time, perhaps his dad could casually tell him to look at job ads instead if school does not interest him. Work or school, make him pick one!

On the subject of school, while it is not for everyone, I think it is still OK for parents to let their kids try, the finance permitting. Perhaps part-time school and part-time work for a year or two. It allows kids who have not made up their mind a few years to mature. Not all of them mature at the same rate. I will admit that the same person when forced to will mature sooner. I might be guilty of being a bit too lenient with my kids. Parenting is tough.
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Old 08-10-2009, 06:30 PM   #28
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Armchair quarterback (no kids) here...but I couldn't resist...

Sometimes the best way to win the game of tug-o'-war is to simply let go of the rope. The other team will fall backwards instead of dragging you forward over the line. No ropes burns on your hands.

Sounds like your new script is suiting you.
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Old 08-10-2009, 06:41 PM   #29
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Bright eyed, like others, I got no kids, but I do have a very lazy friend we let move in with us last November.

What I picked up instantly from your post is that you are mad he isn't grateful. I can commiserate, big time. My DH said something that finally sunk in with me and maybe it will help you like it did me.

When you do really nice stuff for people, they aren't grateful, they are resentful because they feel like they are beholden to you.

I know there are exceptions to this, but I've seen it way too often for it not to pass the smell test. This knowledge didn't fix our problem with our buddy, but it made me way less "ranty" about the situation while it gets resolved.

Good luck!
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Old 08-10-2009, 06:47 PM   #30
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As a (female) shining example of f&^*ing up in college because I wasn't ready, I support the people who say 1) get a job 2) pay rent

I was in college for 2 years, out working for 2 years, and when I went back - mostly on my own nickel - all of a sudden I was summa cum laude.

The "sit around" option should be immediatly cancelled.

"But nobody is hiring!" "Uncle Sam is."

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Old 08-10-2009, 07:14 PM   #31
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Lots of good posts here I believe. We told our son we would support him in school for full ride the first year, then tuition, books and rent beyond that...food is his to figure out. We also told him that he had to maintain the required GPA for his major, or if his major did not have a particular requirement, then we had our own minimum that we required. If he got lazy and thus got kicked out, it would be his problem. So far, he has done pretty well (with the studies...he recently got a little carried away with the money stuff, but it seems like the tough love is going to work with that issue). We also told him that if he decided not to go to school, he could live at home for 6 months to a year, but would have to pay room and board, and would have to live by our house rules and would have to find his own place after that. He also has a tendency to be a little lazy and unmotivated. Key to solving that issue was that I told him that a "decision" on his part would also include the "decision to put of til tomorrow what should be done today" and the resulting consequences. He has had a tendency to blame everything and everyone else but himself for consequences of his lack of action. I told him point blank that there is a reaction to everything, including inaction. The world moves on, if he does not move with it, does not do what is required by the time it is required, then he will have to deal with the results, including digging himself out of a hole (recently a $35 dollar late charge on his rent - that comes out of his monthly food budget...he had the money, just didn't get off his @$$ and go pay it).

So, bright-eyed, that's just my two cents, probably not even worth that since there have been lots of good comments here so far. But getting the Dad to execute some of the tough love will really be key to success here, I believe.

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Old 08-10-2009, 07:19 PM   #32
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I have 2 sons shortly to graduate high school. One of them has been told that if he wants to continue living at home or having us support him after graduation that he needs to either be in school doing reasonably well (i.e. not making a bunch of Ds) or needs to get a job and support himself (oh, we don't say the same to our other son since he graduating at 15 and will still be a minor...plan is he will start community college and live at home).

I do not happen to think that everyone needs or should go to college. I think a lot of people who don't do well in college are just not well suited to it. In those instances, I do think that getting training for work is a good idea and we would also support that financially.

Then there are the kids who are suited for college but just aren't ready. In some instances that can be a maturity thing. For some kids, it is more than that. Our younger son is really bright but has ADHD and so his executive functioning is not great. He has lots of great ideas but not so great follow through. For kids with ADHD or kids with executive functioning problems, leaving them to sink or swim with things like scheduling, planning classes, etc. would result with them sinking. With my younger son, he has needed a lot of help and practice on that kind of thing.

With your stepson part of what I would ask myself is whether he is able to do what is being asked of him. Is he able to handle scheduling for classes, finding alternatives, following through on them? Some high school graduates (probably most) can do that but some cannot and need more help. If he *can* do it but is just not motivated to do so because he is enjoying living at home with no responsibilities then telling him work or school and leaving the choice to him probably works. On the other hand, if he *can't* do it, then that choice doesn't work and he may need more hands on help and support.

On another note...are there other community colleges he could attend? Around here, there are several different systems with multiple campuses so if one was full we would just go to a different one....
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Old 08-10-2009, 07:47 PM   #33
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One thing to remember is there is a tremendous evolutionary pressure for teenagers and parents to not get along. Great pressure for them to really, really grate on one another's nerves. The evolutionary advantage of this is that the teenagers tend to move out of the cave and go out on their own.

Second piece of advice is to read this book:



I found it very useful, and this sentence that you wrote: "He never shows any ounce of gratitude, hides in his room and then only comes out to eat all the food in the house. " reminds me of the book's description of typical teenage boys.

You son needs and wants your input even though he doesn't show it.

Hang in there -- it will get better some day.
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Old 08-10-2009, 08:29 PM   #34
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You've had some good counsel on here already, so I'll just add that I have raised a male child...and he was all boy and a pain often. I gave him great advice--which he now admits he wish he had taken--but I had to wait until he grew up (aka sowed his wild oats) until he got it together and is now on his way.
I know you probably would like to strangle this kid, and, if you don't, you're a better woman than I; however, this too shall pass, he WILL grow up (honest he will) and actually take some of your advice most likely. Just give him your best advice even if he doesn't act interested. It WILL sink it, and you just might be surprised to find him actually doing what you have suggested in the future. Maybe not today, tho. Hard as it is: have patience..and faith. God bless! Been there. Done that.


P.S. You know it's true that males seem to mature much later than females.
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Old 08-10-2009, 09:39 PM   #35
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I went to college right out of HS and probably should have taken time off. I goofed around and didn't get as much out of it as I should have. It's cost me in little ways ever since. A year or two of maturity would have made a big difference.

I know a guy who got the "tough love" treatment. He enlisted in the Army when he was out of other options. Got a dishonorable discharge probably related to drugs. Kicked around in minimum wage menial jobs for most of the next 20 years. Rarely held any job longer than 3 months. Got married and divorced 3 times. Has 3 families for whom he is delinquent on child support. Spent time in jail for minor drug offenses, while he was trying to be a minor dealer. That got him involved with drugs and kids and another stint in jail. He says he's clean now, but I'm not sure. He's finally holding a job for more than a year, but it's part-time janitor at his apartment - paid under the table at less than minimum wage. Pretty much a waste of a life. He was a bright, sweet kid, but not at all ready for the outside world.

Some kids need a little push, or can deal with a little push, or maybe even need the "tough love" treatment. But some kids just need a little maturity or maybe some compassion and some time. You'll never know what the right thing to do was until well after the fact, if ever. Try to know as much as you can, and try to do the right thing, as best you understand it. Much sympathy.
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Old 08-11-2009, 07:14 AM   #36
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A positive story...as told to me by my LH. He barely got through HS, preferred to hang out with buddies and girls, waterskiing and drinking beer on the lake. Never got in any serious trouble, but had a few close ones.
His father "packed" him off to the Navy when he graduated HS. He was stationed on land in Europe and did some traveling on the Continent while on leave.
Four years later, he returns home, and decides to use his GI Bill benefits. He gets accepted into community college and get this...makes the Dean's List and then President's List for 2 years straight. He does not live at home.
He continues on to an upper division college and graduates with a 3.5 CUM. This is where I enter the story.
He gets a job with Uncle Sam, starts and finishes his Masters' Degree in EE while w*rking full time.
All this with undiagnosed dyslexia. I figured that out when he was taking advanced courses and was struggling with the reading. We "engineered" a w*rk-around with me helping with the reading.
I credit the military for teaching him self-discipline and learning to finish what he started. It really paid off for him in the long run.
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Old 08-11-2009, 09:22 AM   #37
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Our younger son went away to a state university right after high school. Grades were not a problem at all but he is a non-drinker/non-drugger and he found the out-of-control drinking/drugging/stupid behavior in the dorms intolerable. All the colleges have rules but they were not being enforced. He wanted out but finished the one semester and came home, planning on transferring to another state university.

He was really discouraged and disappointed by his experience and asked if he could take off a semester before starting the new college. He wanted to work and just get some life experience. He had worked quite a lot during high school so he knew what he was doing.

The deal we had was that if you are in college we pay tuition, room and board, books, car insurance and gas. If you live at home and work you pay your own expenses (car insurance, gas, phone) and make a "contribution to the household" which is a percentage of your take home pay. I think we made the first month free just to help him get started.

He worked from January - August and registered at the local state college. All his credits transferred. He worked for a sound and lighting company that he had worked for before. He also did a lot of side jobs on his own. Sometimes he had a lot of work and a lot of money, other times things were slow and he had to be careful. He had some fun, learned a lot about himself, life, working for a living (instead of for extra money when he was in high school). He never had a problem with his household contribution.

The difference is that he always planned to get back into college. If his work had turned out to be something that really took off and could have led to him supporting himself out on his own he would have considered not finishing college, but that was a real longshot.

This was a few years ago, he's now a senior and graduating in Dec 2009!!!! We just paid the last semesters tuition. He can't wait to be DONE. And he's trying not to get discouraged by the job prospects in the middle of a horrible recession.

Good luck with your stepson, transitions are tough, especially when he's resistant. During my son's semester off we talked a lot, not me lecturing or trying to steer him toward anything, but the deep talks about life and learning about yourself. I always told him that college was not mandatory, there are many paths in your life and it's not always what's "expected" of you. Sometimes it's best to stop and take a look around and look at your options. It's his path in life, he needed to make the choices.
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:13 AM   #38
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Aside from that, his general attitude towards me is not endearing me at all. He never shows any ounce of gratitude, hides in his room and then only comes out to eat all the food in the house.
I don't have any kids but can offer my own experience:

This kind of sounds like me at 18. I hated HS with a passion and almost dropped out but figured I could tough it out for one more year. After HS I took six months to figure out what to do next, and one of the motivations to go to the community college was a 60-year old man named Dave. At 17, I was the one of the part time night shift managers at a gas station, back when they had teenagers to pump the gas, wash the windshield and check the oil.

I was Dave's supervisor, and the thought of ending up like him scared the crap out of me. Later I unloaded trucks at a department store, and I knew there wasn't going to be much better in store if I didn't get off my butt.

But it took six months to figure it out. So, at the height of the Vietnam war (1968) my options were to enlist, wait until I got drafted and get sent to someplace I couldn't find on a map to get shot at for reasons I didn't understand, or go to college. I wasn't an anti-war radical or anything - I even took the written test for the Air Force - but I just didn't see the point of shooting people in a jungle. A further disincentive was that one of the guys I worked with at the gas station enlisted in the Marines right after HS and came back in a bag six months later.

So, I figured I could go to college and if I didn't like that I could enlist but it didn't work the other way around. So I went to college and for the first time in my life cracked open a textbook and read it.

"Hey, he likes it!" was the reaction. I could more or less arrange my own schedule (no classes before 10:00 AM) if I got there early for registration. I didn't like the "underwater basketweaving" classes but suffered through them with passing grades.

So, tell him to pay rent (I paid a token $40/month to my parents) if he wants to work, or you'll help with what you can if he wants to go to college, but lying around taking up space is a strict no-no.
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:39 AM   #39
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One thing to find out is what HE is interested in. Younger son (now 20) is pretty bright, in middle school he was top of a great school district in math & science and I thought he might end up at CALTECH, happy stuff for a NASA dad. But he more or less regressed to the mean and became the Mohawk haired rock drummer in high school. He got admitted to a few UCs but not the one he wanted. He chose a state college because of its music program rather that better (more fun) location like San Diego. I initially talked him out of music as a major but after one term he switched into music. I am in psychic pain, I tell him about music jobs: "Do you want fries with that?" But he is serious and will practice for hours even on a day off. He HS friends are amazed, he is the only one who knows what he wants to do and did when he was in HS.
This story reminds me of my brother, for whom college was the best eight years of his life. He's been performing R&B guitar for nearly 30 years. He says he's gettin' pretty good at it.

He's always been more interested in music than in a ladder-climbing corporate career. For him a job is something you do to pay the bills while waiting for the band to take off, in his case about 25 years, but he discovered that he has a talent for sales. (Hard to find that in college!) When he finally quit his last sales job he went the entrepreneur route and has been running his own business for the last five years-- even making money during a recession. He has a long-term girlfriend/partner, they're homeowners after a sweat-equity rehab, and they're doing just fine. He may work until he dies but he's certainly found a work/life balance, something I've struggled for 30 years to figure out.

Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers" claims that real proficiency at a profession takes 10,000 hours to achieve. (His example is the Beatles' years in Germany.) When I read the biographies of musicians, one characteristic of the most successful-- standing out like a sore thumb-- is that the first thing they reach for in the morning and the last thing they put down at night is a musical instrument. A kid so passionate about drumming that he practices even when hot chicks aren't hanging around... that's going to end up working out well. Just try not to put a lot of significance into all of Trombone Al's drummer jokes.

A work friend of mine complained a decade ago that all his kid wanted to do was play video games. Son was ecstatic when he discovered that UC San Jose had started a videogaming degree, and he practically had to pay for the degree on his own after Dad objected to its lack of "value". 10 years later, guess who's making more money than the rest of the family combined.

All the stories I've heard of the kids not working out so well, aside from alcohol & drugs, involve struggling against a parent's controlling interest in their field of study-- or just not finding anything to get passionate about. Anecdotal evidence, sure, but we're having trouble finding cases of kids who did what their parents told them to do and enjoyed it.

I think half the kid-raising challenge is putting them in enough positions so that they can figure out what they want to do all day and have the skills to attempt it. The other half of the challenge is equipping them with adequate socialization (roommate) skills. We hope we've made progress with our kid on both fronts, but the second challenge will "solve" itself for us one way or another in 369 days...

This is framed over her study desk:
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:59 AM   #40
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I'll add in another data point. My older brother was one who had a lot of disdain for formal education. He barely made it through high school and then puttered around community college getting an automotive technology certificate and then did a little bit of pre-college coursework at the CC before losing interest and dropping/failing out. Working on cars interested him, so that is what he did at first.

He was also interested in computers, so eventually did one of those 2 week computer networking school gigs for big $$$ and then got a very nice IT support job at a three letter megacorp. That was during the dot com heydays.

Since then he has bounced around doing tech support stuff here and there, suffering through many layoffs at many tech firms (4 layoffs that I can think of offhand). Pay was sometimes good, sometimes not great depending on the firm. Now he's back on unemployment after 80% of the staff in his department at his now-former mega$oftcorp were laid off suddenly.

His employment issues are certianly related to the line of work - IT/tech stuff. But also I'm sure the lack of a college degree hurts him when it comes time to pick which 4 out of 5 staff to let go and which 1 out of 5 to keep on. All this in spite of the fact that he is expert at computer security, networking, systems, etc.

Moral of the story? A college degree is worth something. White collar workers aren't immune to layoffs or outsourcing.
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