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Old 01-19-2011, 02:21 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by freebird5825 View Post

Your original post already had the answer in it. Stop the flow of money. Period.
One thing that makes it easier is that DH went through some of this with his children from his first marriage. When he and I got married his youngest daughter was in college. She was doing well but would drop classes at a whim and was extending her time in college. One summer she talked him into paying for summer school and he found out she dropped her class and went to Mexico on vacation instead. When she came back he told her she could pay for her 5th year of college herself. He signed over the car title to the car she was driving to her and said insurance and everything was her problem.

She did manage to pay for her last year of school and graduated (not sure what all she did to get there as she wasn't speaking to him during that year).

15+ years later she will say that he did absolutely the right thing.

During the early years we were married each of his kids asked us at various times for loans for various things. We made the loans one time for each child but watched closely to see who paid us back. If we were paid back we would make future loans, if not then we wouldn't. Of course, the one who paid back a loan never asked for any other loans....
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Old 01-19-2011, 03:24 PM   #42
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Cardude I have experience in that. My first job was at 14 being a busboy, dishwasher at a restuarant. Worked there for 3 years until I went to college. Let me tell you he will be exposed to everything! Workers smoking non stop, would have alcoholics sneaking their bottles in, even a few blowing weed near the out vents! Im not saying they are all like that( or that it happened all the time there), but my experience was that and that was in the 80's mind you. That being said if he is grounded in his upbringing values, he will probably be alright. I actually liked most of my coworkers (everyone was older) and enjoyed working with them. I just politely turned down offers and didnt judge them. In fact it reinforced my desire to go to college and make something out of myself. Learning the true value of a dollar "EARNED", not given to me was invaluable. It also taught me that I wasnt "above" any job. You wouldnt believe how many teenagers "are too good" for their first jobs to be in fast food or restuarant.
Good points. Thanks for the insight.

I did all that bad stuff in HS, so that's why I'm trying to shield him from it, but he is going to encounter all the drugs and drinking sooner or later so I guess I just need to tell him to get ready for it.
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Old 01-19-2011, 03:38 PM   #43
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The assurance with which our resident experts dispense advice is pretty funny. At most each of us has raised 2-4 kids, and often the results are not exactly in yet.

Yet some of us seem quite sure of ourselves as advisors and prescribers.

Ha
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Old 01-19-2011, 03:58 PM   #44
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look i don't have kids but sometimes a perspective from a disconnected source helps. many things have been said that i agree with.

1st i'm not so sure he is all that different than a lot of kids his age. sleeping to noon, lazy, not wanting to work or do chores, etc. a lot of kids are like this. he will grow up and straighten out (i suspect most do) but it will take some time and he'll do it at his pace. he is between child and adult, one day he'll realize the world doesn't owe him anything.

1 point that i think is important is while you love and care for him and want to help - stop. stop enabling his behavior. don't give him money. don't provide shelter and food for free anyway. stop paying for car insurance. it is time for him to start paying his way. if he wants to park his butt under your roof then he has to play by your rules or get out, period. you'd be surprised how fast someone can get motivated when they are no longer allowed to behave the way they want to. this means getting a job or going to school. he has to clean up his mess in the kitchen, room and anywhere he makes a mess. no more laying around watching tv to 3 am and sleeping to 2 pm. assign chores and enforce them. it's called responsibility and at 19 he doesn't have it.

water takes the path of least resistance and so will he. allow him to behavior the way he wants to and he will. tough love is needed. you and your husband must be 100% firm and on the same page or it will not work. i hope this goes well, nothing i have said is meant to offend or hurt you.
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Old 01-19-2011, 04:14 PM   #45
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The assurance with which our resident experts dispense advice is pretty funny. At most each of us has raised 2-4 kids, and often the results are not exactly in yet.

Yet some of us seem quite sure of ourselves as advisors and prescribers.

Ha
It's so much easier when you're not the one in the situation at the time!

I saw a documentary about woodstock - where they set up a triage area for people having "bad trips." Then the ones who had recovered were in charge of helping the next batch with their "bad trips." That's about the best we can do eh?!

This forum has been invaluable to kicking my behind when I want to have a pity party, vent or just figure something out (and not just about money). I happily accept others' hindsight as I'd rather not repeat mistakes if/when possible !!
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Old 01-19-2011, 04:17 PM   #46
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This may not be your situation, but we found out our kids did not understand the reason for the rules and that was a major problem. One weekend when they were both home we went out and told them we would be back by 10. We got a hotel room and did not come back until 3:00 the next day. We did not answer our phone. When we showed up, needless to say they were both very upset with us. We then set down and explained why we had the rules, of let us know where you are, and when you will be in.

'When you are at school, we don't know what you are doing, and we trust you, however, if you are at home, and we expect to see you at say midnight, and you don't show up, then we begin to worry, and, just like you we worry until we see or hear from you'

Both got the message, and it was never a problem again.

On the work front, our DD, was not the best of students. After about 2.5 years of college straight, no summer breaks, she decided it was not for her. She did not have the cash to move out, and we let her stay at home. She got a job at a department store. After about 8 months, she announced she was going back to school. She said she looked around at the 45 to 50 year old women working with her, and did not want to end up like that. She is now a very successful 7th grade teacher. Both of our kids had a 'come to jesus moment' and both are doing well now. It takes longer for some. The problem is balancing the tough love with keeping them out of trouble.

Good luck.
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Old 01-19-2011, 04:18 PM   #47
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It's so much easier when you're not the one in the situation at the time!

I saw a documentary about woodstock - where they set up a triage area for people having "bad trips." Then the ones who had recovered were in charge of helping the next batch with their "bad trips." That's about the best we can do eh?!

This forum has been invaluable to kicking my behind when I want to have a pity party, vent or just figure something out (and not just about money). I happily accept others' hindsight as I'd rather not repeat mistakes if/when possible !!
I guess she told you, ha!

(Don't look now but I think there are some kids on your lawn... )
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Old 01-19-2011, 04:25 PM   #48
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1 point that i think is important is while you love and care for him and want to help - stop. stop enabling his behavior. don't give him money. don't provide shelter and food for free anyway. stop paying for car insurance. it is time for him to start paying his way. if he wants to park his butt under your roof then he has to play by your rules or get out, period. you'd be surprised how fast someone can get motivated when they are no longer allowed to behave the way they want to. this means getting a job or going to school. he has to clean up his mess in the kitchen, room and anywhere he makes a mess. no more laying around watching tv to 3 am and sleeping to 2 pm. assign chores and enforce them. it's called responsibility and at 19 he doesn't have it.

water takes the path of least resistance and so will he. allow him to behavior the way he wants to and he will. tough love is needed. you and your husband must be 100% firm and on the same page or it will not work. i hope this goes well, nothing i have said is meant to offend or hurt you.
It doesn't offend are hurt you...but we are not allowing him to do those things. This is why he is moving out on Monday. We told him he can't stay without following rules. He doesn't want to follow rules so he is going.

We told him he can't sleep all day, can't fail to do his chores, etc. This is why he is going.

We did tell him he needed to be out of the house daily until he found a close by job and a place to live. That got him motivated and he got back his old high school job and found a place to live.

We can debate whether we should send him off with any money. As I mentioned in some other comments, I feel better giving him enough cash that if he is frugal he could make it. It is not a huge amount of money and I feel better doing it.

Apart from that (and DH understands why I feel that way) there are practicalities. If we don't advance him money for rent deposit and first month's rent then he can't move out as he has no money. I don't want to have an ugly scene to force him out penniless particularly when I'm not even really angry at him.

He wants to be on his own and make his own decisions and mistakes. I'm OK with that choice although I do think it is an upcoming trainwreck. So I'll give him a little money to send him off (so to speak) and the rest is up to him.
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Old 01-19-2011, 04:31 PM   #49
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This may not be your situation, but we found out our kids did not understand the reason for the rules and that was a major problem. One weekend when they were both home we went out and told them we would be back by 10. We got a hotel room and did not come back until 3:00 the next day. We did not answer our phone. When we showed up, needless to say they were both very upset with us. We then set down and explained why we had the rules, of let us know where you are, and when you will be in.
I absolutely love your teaching moment there!

For some of my kids you are right -- explaining the rules is very important and does help.

For this son -- we do explain the rules. The reason he doesn't want to follow the rules is because he does understand the reason for them...

When he got home from college last month, we told him that he needed to let us know when he would be home (so we wouldn't worry and could plan family activities) and that if he had a friend over he needed to check with us first and generally the friend could only stay 1 night. Also if he went out to a friends to spend the night he needed to come home the next day unless we talked about it and agreed to something different.

We were upfront about the reasons for this. In the past, he had a tendency to get out of work around the house by always being gone (to work, visiting a friend, etc.) or by having a house guest. We would have a friend over to visit who would then spend the night (OK), stay the entire next day and night and all the time DS would think he didn't have to do his chores. (On occasion we disabused him of this and he didn't like it).

So he understands the reason for the rule but doesn't like it because it keeps him from doing what the rule is meant to prevent....
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Old 01-19-2011, 04:51 PM   #50
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The assurance with which our resident experts dispense advice is pretty funny. At most each of us has raised 2-4 kids, and often the results are not exactly in yet.

Yet some of us seem quite sure of ourselves as advisors and prescribers.

Ha
Ah, but I covered myself with a Disclaimer and an Announcement.

As a childless person, I am finding this thread pretty illuminating.
Boy, my Mom sure was a tough one. She taught me to make my own way with very little financial help. Thanks, Mom.
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Old 01-19-2011, 05:12 PM   #51
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On the work front, our DD, was not the best of students. After about 2.5 years of college straight, no summer breaks, she decided it was not for her. She did not have the cash to move out, and we let her stay at home. She got a job at a department store. After about 8 months, she announced she was going back to school. She said she looked around at the 45 to 50 year old women working with her, and did not want to end up like that. She is now a very successful 7th grade teacher. Both of our kids had a 'come to jesus moment' and both are doing well now. It takes longer for some.
Not having any kids I won't offer advice, thinking the situation is probably more complicated than could be described in a book.

But a strong incentive for me was working in a gas station in high school (back when they had HS kids to check the oil, clean the window, pump the gas) and seeing the 50-year-old guy I worked with. At that time I didn't know what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, but I sure as hell knew I didn't want to be him!

Another, more immediate, incentive was that while my parents did give me an allowance, it was ~$1.25 a week in 1967. I was told "If you want more than that you'll have to earn it yourself." So I did.
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Old 01-19-2011, 05:19 PM   #52
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One word. Military.

That will get his sorry butt in shape and also get him on track education wise.
+1

I cannot stress it enough to make sure the title to the car is in his name only. Then it's his problem if he drops insurance or has an at-fault accident and is un/underinsured.

I don't budge on house rules. My house. My rules. You haven't asked anything of your son that the rest of us ask of our children.

For some reason I get the "into drugs" vibe because it sounded like he was doing OK when in high school and at home. Then things started going downhill at college. Either he wasn't ready for college or he got into something that's not in his best interest. Maybe the room and board money you were going to give him would be better spent on counseling.

All of us can only commensurate with you. You and your spouse are the only ones who can come up with a solution(s) you can live with. It's family meeting time.

Good luck.
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Old 01-19-2011, 05:24 PM   #53
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My little brother ended up hating high school so he arranged to be able to graduate a year early. He spent what would have been his senior year working at the JC Penney's Catalog desk in the local strip mall, with coworkers in their 40s and 50s stuck in the dead end job. By the end of a year of that, he was REALLY convinced he wanted to go to college. I don't know if my parents charged him rent during that year, but certainly the experience of seeing what life was like for people stuck doing a low-skill no-future job made a large impression on him regardless.
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Old 01-19-2011, 06:48 PM   #54
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Our oldest son is just a freshman in college and so far so good but who knows how it will go from here. I don't think we'll have any problems with him because he seems pretty motivated but you never know.

Mainly I just ran across this and thought this was a good place to post it.

The British have a term for late teen/early 20 something kids staying at home: Kippers - Kids in parents' pockets eroding retirement savings

Beware the kippers!
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Old 01-19-2011, 07:22 PM   #55
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It is rare to make it through the teenage (and early 20s) without going through a trainwreck. I guess being able to see it coming is better than being blindsided by it

(I'm not too far removed from that age range and like to think I went through without any major mess ups. I would bet my parents think differently)
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Old 01-19-2011, 08:19 PM   #56
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For some reason I get the "into drugs" vibe because it sounded like he was doing OK when in high school and at home. Then things started going downhill at college. Either he wasn't ready for college or he got into something that's not in his best interest. Maybe the room and board money you were going to give him would be better spent on counseling.
No, his behavior now is consistent with his past behavior. I don't see any signs of drugs or drinking (not to say it couldn't happen in future). He has had a ton of counseling.

He has had lots of issues and at times I've been in total despair. When he was a freshman in high school he failed 4 courses despite being told this would happen and despite tutoring. It wasn't that they were difficult....he just didn't do his work. Then the next 2 years he did well, made good grades. In his senior year he realized that he would graduate even if he didn't pass pre-calc so he did little to no work and failed the course.

Or, after he got his job and was earning money. He had a debit card and at the time the Bank put everyone on this automatic covering of debits even if there was no money. So the first time he overdrew the account and to pay a $35 fee I was calm and explained to him how it worked. He insisted he had called the banks automated line and it had said he had $X in the account and he spent less than that. I explained to him that the automated line didn't always have ever expenditure instantaneously after he met. He insisted that the bank should have it. I told that nonetheless he couldn't just rely on calling in. I suggested he keep a check register.

The next time it happened I asked him how. Same thing. He called the automated line so it ought to be right. Sigh. Of course, he refused to keep a check register.

It took several hundred dollars in overdraft fees before he finally learned that lesson.

It is very hard to explain but you can't reason with him at times. Or, rather, logic seems to have no bearing on what he does. I remember when he was failing English and insisting he was going to make a B. I asked him just how that could happen if he wasn't turning in work, wasn't studying, etc. He would get angry with me and insist he would make a B even when it was mathematically impossible for that to occur based upon past grades.

So the current behavior was actually, well, expected by DH and I. We hoped for the best and hoped we would be wrong but we really expected that he just wouldn't be willing to do the level of work he needed to do to stay in college. If he had made all good grades with the level of work he put in..I think he would have gone back. In the one course he was interested in, he actually made an A. But in courses he finds boring, he just isn't willing to put in the level of work necessary to make a decent grade.
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Old 01-19-2011, 08:43 PM   #57
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I don't get it. What I mean is, what I would have given to have had parents like you. Not that my parents didn't love or care for me -- they did. They just didn't have the financial means to do what you have done.

I just passed the half century mark. Been on my own since I was 17.

IMO, you're only enabling him. Give him the boot. It will be a life changing event.

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Old 01-19-2011, 08:44 PM   #58
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Kats,

I haven't read all the responses yet, but I read your opening post and felt I needed to respond. I feel your pain and I have walked in your shoes at least a few miles. I won't go into all the details of what we have gone through with my son, but I have spent more than one night sick with worry over him.



He flunked out of college as a junior - being an A/B student until that time. He came home, got a decent job with good benefits, quit said job because he hated it (yeah....and I love mine....), moved out twice, failed miserably, and moved back in twice (Yes, that means he is living at home right now). When he flunked out of school and came home, we set some rules that we have held fast to. The key non-negotiable ones include:
  • He will have health insurance, because should he ever become sick, I don't want my ER going to paying for his medical care because he had no health insurance...and I know it would. We are very fortunate, because he has never fought us on this, even though he has to go in the State High Risk Pool.
  • We will not give him money or pay any debt he incurs. If he is living with us and has debt - he will be paying it off until it is gone. Heaven knows he had debt when he came back the last time. At that point, he finally realized he was not someone who should be allowed to have a credit card and threw his away. I put him on a strict budget and and checked him weekly - to ensure he had put aside enough money for his bills and debt payments before spending money. No excuses. This was not up for discussion.
  • He is either in school and working part-time or working full-time. If he is in school, he doesnt have to pay rent (we live close enough to State U, where he transfered, so he can commute). He was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and depression shortly after he flunked out his junior year. Although we refused to let him use that as an excuse for lying to us about his classes, we did realize it was likely a contributing factor to his struggles. And because he did agree to see a therapist for a period of time (who helped him immensely), we made an agreement with him about school. When/If he was ready to go back to school, he would have to pay for his first class. Then for every class he passed, we would reimburse him by paying for the next one. No pass....no payment for next class.
Fast forward 6 years. He is now almost 27 and will (*fingers crossed*) graduate this summer. He is working at a decent place and takes as many hours as they can give him. He goes in whenever they call, so gets 25-30 hours a week. He has no debt. He has saved a couple thousand in the bank - not a lot - but it is a lot more than he had a year ago.

He has come a long way from where he was at 21. Has it been hard? Yes. When he flunked one of his classes because he didn't go, he said "maybe I can borrow the money from you for next semester". The hardest thing I ever did was to say "No, you are not a good credit risk. You figure out another way to get the money. We only pay when you pass." He figured it out - and he hasnt flunked another class. I could tell you 100 other "poor decisions" he has made that ripped my heart out when he did. It is still hard at times. I don't claim to understand some of his decisions.

But, we are very close and he has, on more than one occasion, acknowledged how lucky he has been. He also admitted he is a little afraid of graduating - and I know that is because it will mean he has no excuses and needs to think about going off on his own again - something he has failed twice at before.

My advice to you is to set some hard and fast rules and stick to them. Giving him money will not help him - it will only make you feel "hopeful" for a little while longer (trust me on that one). The sooner he struggles and/or fails - the sooner you can be there to help him.

We always told both our kids that they would never go cold or hungry. Right or wrong (and I know many people have their opinions on this) - they can always come home. But if they do, they will work, pay rent (if not in school), have health insurance, and not carry any debt. And don't ask us for money. Oh, and no, your girlfriend cannot spend the night. Why not? Because I said so.


Good Luck - but believe that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. You want to have a good enough relationship with him so that when he finally realizes what you were trying to teach him all this time - he will be willing to come back to you to learn it. But "keeping a good relationship with him" doesnt mean doing what he wants and giving him money. It means explaining your rules to him and then letting him make his own decisions and suffer the consequences - without arguing, criticizing, and fighting with him....or bailing him out.

Yes, I know, it is easier said than done.
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Old 01-19-2011, 08:54 PM   #59
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Thanks, KM for the been there, done that.... It is great to read of a successful outcome (and yours does fit that bill).

When DS came home in December and I told him about his grades I asked him to really think about what he wanted to do. He floated by me the idea of living at home this semester while working and saving money and then going back to school in the fall. Internally, I was worried about it because I didn't feel he would follow the rules but I felt that we would need to give him that opportunity and then deal with it if (when) he didn't.

DS is his own worst enemy because within a week he made it clear he couldn't even abide by our over Christmas break rules and said he would rather live in his car....

So, I sort of think he had his chance on that and now he gets to make his own way. I'm not angry with him. He will be welcome to come over for dinner and such. But I can't see him ever living with us.
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Old 01-19-2011, 08:57 PM   #60
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Oh, I certainly agree it is not an excuse but I do think it bears upon the issue. He has a lot of conflicts based upon this issue. He has worked on this with a therapist and in many ways I do think he has made progress. But, yes, there is just the possibility that this is just his nature and it would have been his nature no matter what. Some people have to learn the hard way, but it is sure painful to watch....
OK - reading responses, and I suspect I will react to many of them

My son told me one day about 3 years ago that he knew some of his decisions were bad and he didn't know why he would make them - despite how many times I told him not to do it. He said and I quote "there are just some things I have to do and get burned by. I don't know why - I just do. You telling me to do something or not do something is not going to change anything. I have to learn some things the hard way."

That was the day I realized and accepted I was not responsible for all of his bad decisions. But yeah, it is real painful to watch.
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