After graduating from high school, my 18-year-old son suddenly seems depressed, antisocial and angry. He won't accept suggestions about things to do, including working to keep him busy. He refuses to talk to a counselor or professional about his issues. What should I do before sending him off to a college out of state? Is he ready for college?
As our children get older, they want to be treated more like adults. At the same time, they often don’t seem to be able to make decisions any better than when they were 10. Given your son's age and the fact that you support his going to college, you should use the time you have left together to get him the help he needs.
Please do NOT allow him to go off to college unless he is stronger emotionally. Even young people who are confident, outgoing and real leaders of their peers struggle to handle the pressures of college life. There are academic pressures far beyond anything he has experienced so far, and the social pressure is far beyond perhaps anything even you as an adult have experienced. Let him know that if he doesn't get help, you will be unwilling to support his college in the fall. As his parent, your number one responsibility still is to ensure his safety. In this case, it is his emotional safety that you are concerned about. If he claims to be "fine" and says he will be all right, let him know that you will need a professional opinion to verify that.
Our 19-year-old daughter failed a college course and is truly devastated. We’ve emphasized good grades, stressing their importance to her future success. We are upset as well, but we don’t want to add to her shame. What can we do?
It sounds like your daughter might need some help adapting to the college classroom, which is very different from the high school one. Talk with your daughter about what went wrong with this class and why she thinks she failed. Some reasons could be missing classes, not understanding the material and/or not seeking help from the teacher frequently enough.
College professors expect students to be much more proactive with their education than high school teachers do. There aren’t prompts to turn in work, and feedback on work quality happens less frequently. Help your daughter discover the root of her problem so this does not happen again.
If needed, look into tutoring services at her college. These can help her learn effective study habits. Check that her class schedule is not too taxing and that the class meeting times fit into her schedule. While you can’t change a failing grade, you can take steps to ensure that it does not happen again.
My 19-year-old son is very bright, but after two years of college with C and D grades, he seems unmotivated to study or work. All he wants to do is hang out with his girlfriend and play video games. He says he can't find work during the summer, yet I don't see any real attempts to even look. I am a single mother with a 13-year-old son as well. The tension is terrible in the house. I recently told him that if he can't step up, then maybe he'll have to move out. I want him to succeed, but I don’t know how to help him.
Parenting is a tough job no matter what age your children are. The behaviors of your 19-year-old are very concerning and seem quite immature. If your son is really bright, then the grades in college he is earning reflect that there is something going on that is distracting him from applying himself.
The type of schedule he is keeping won’t work if he has a job or is going to school, so he is forming some habits that are setting him up to fail. Watching TV and playing video games is not a realistic way for him to spend his summer.
Does he have chores to do around the house? Is he responsible for cleaning, doing laundry, mowing the lawn or preparing dinner? If not, it is time for that to begin if he is not working at a job outside of the home. And unless you want the same thing to happen with your 13-year-old, we suggest that you make some changes by assigning responsibilities to both of your children. Make the TV, computer and video games off limits until the chores are finished or until you arrive home after work.
As a parent, your responsibility is to help your son develop his independence so he can take care of himself. You might suggest that your son see a counselor to help him work through the issues underlying his behavior. Have a family meeting, and present your expectations to your sons. Make sure the message both of your sons hear is, "As their parent, it is your responsibility to teach them to become independent young men."
Our daughter was forced to leave college due to alcohol-related problems. She has been attending a temporary college while completing her requirements. She has worked so hard and was so excited about returning. She has a new boyfriend and wants to stay at this mediocre college and then transfer somewhere. I believe she should have to follow through with her original plan, but my husband doesn’t agree. I feel let down and not supported.
It's great that your daughter was able to turn things around for herself. As parents you did the right thing by being supportive and helpful during her time of struggle.
It sounds like you, your husband and your daughter had a plan worked out and since then both your husband and your daughter have detoured from the original plan. This situation comes down to a matter of control, and while you feel like your hands are tied, you still have a choice to make.
As a parent you may not like or agree with the decision she's making, but if she is considered an adult it’s her decision to make. Instead of focusing on what you can’t control (your husband and daughter), focus on what you can control -- your reaction to their decisions. You can allow her choice to frustrate you or you can decide to do something else. If you and your husband agreed to financially support her or provide her lodging as long as she returned to her original college, then you get to decide if you want to continue supporting her or to cut her off.
It sounds like your daughter is still going to attend school and then transfer somewhere else, which is great. At the end of the day sit down and think about what's really making you upset -- is it because she's making a bad decision or is it the fact that things aren't as you had planned them? Discuss your concerns with your husband and listen to what he thinks is happening. Listen to what he thinks is motivating your daughter to make her current decisions.