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Watch The Pursuit of Happyness together?  

 

It's not a total fix, but it's pretty darn inspirational for the idea that things can go right when everything is going wrong (literally everything) - esp since it's based on a true story.

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He sounds depressed, I think you should make an appointment ASAP with a good psychiatrist and while you're waiting for that get him in with a therapist.

 

If you have a working relationship with a psychiatrist yourself you might be able to get him in sooner.

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Not sure how helpful this will be but one thing we've had to do here is stop talking about the future, or at least certain aspects of it. Anxious stressy kids are doing all that thinking already. They don't need us nattering on about it. 

For example, in my area real estate is essentially unaffordable. (Literally. Last count it's 87.6 per cent of median household pretax income to make a mortgage payment). Rents are also insane & vacancy rates are hovering below 1%. 

We do not talk about real estate at home - not unless my young adults bring it up & ask about it. It's shockingly depressing. We know it, they know it. 

They already feel a lot of pressure to make good decisions educationally & financially and it seems almost impossible to succeed here. 

I think I'd back waaaay off & just let him be. Let him see his counsellor and let the professionals handle it. Just support him and wait. 

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Not sure how helpful this will be but one thing we've had to do here is stop talking about the future, or at least certain aspects of it. Anxious stressy kids are doing all that thinking already. They don't need us nattering on about it. 

 

For example, in my area real estate is essentially unaffordable. (Literally. Last count it's 87.6 per cent of median household pretax income to make a mortgage payment). Rents are also insane & vacancy rates are hovering below 1%. 

 

We do not talk about real estate at home - not unless my young adults bring it up & ask about it. It's shockingly depressing. We know it, they know it. 

 

They already feel a lot of pressure to make good decisions educationally & financially and it seems almost impossible to succeed here. 

 

I think I'd back waaaay off & just let him be. Let him see his counsellor and let the professionals handle it. Just support him and wait. 

 

That is what we were doing but him being on the computer all the time or playing video games or spending hours walking by himself doesn't seem healthy either. 

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That is what we were doing but him being on the computer all the time or playing video games or spending hours walking by himself doesn't seem healthy either. 

 

you know, I'm not so sure. Some people really need solitude to sort this type of thing out.  I'd ask him regular questions about depression (esp if you think he's at risk of self-harm - ASK) but I really think for some people, being alone whether with books, or video games or just plain alone is the best thing. Walking can be a form of meditation really.  There's this cultural bias to push people to 'go out! be with people!' but people who are lonely or depressed will tell you they're just as lonely or depressed in the crowd except now they're also annoyed. 

 

but as always, you know your child best :) Best wishes. 

 

 

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Rigged might be a little strong, but now that the Cold War has been over for many years, things are starting to revert back to a pre-WWII America in some ways. If he is historically minded, perhaps studying the back-and-forth of the Gilded Age & the Progressive Era, the Roaring Twenties & the Great Depression might help him fit his struggles into a larger historical context.

 

Part of the anger might be from not understanding why the job issues happened; when people don't understand why something is so, they often immediately gravitate towards their worst fear, even if that is not necessarily the most likely reason. If he has any interest in economics, I would recommend that he read up on "market distortions". These often help explain why exchanges in the Real World don't work out the way they are described in textbooks.

 

If he is the sort who can laugh through grim times, perhaps pointing out the absurdity of modern life might help. For thousands of years, the main goals of humankind were encouraging plants to do what they were going to do anyways and not getting rained on. :) That people have adjusted at all, however imperfectly, to this surreal world of the future that has been constructed for us -- that's a true testament to human adaptability.

Edited by Anacharsis

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Wanted to clarify:  I want him to have a job so that he will feel like his life has a purpose and he will have meaningful work.  His grades are good.  They were 3.8 before this past year.  Now they are 3.6 something, still good.  School he can do.  Life, I'm just not sure.

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Ah well you see, I'm not in a camp that says work gives meaning.  IMO, for a life well lived, meaning has to come from something else. Sometimes work can help clarify it or be part of the puzzle, or in can be an extension or expressions of your life's meaning but I don't think it *gives* meaning and purpose.

It's not that I don't think work is important. It is. But in modern life, especially when you're part of the "precariat",  for most I think it shouldn't form their identity. 

I think a lot of those midlife crisis threads & the 'was it worth it' threads come from having lack of meaning because our culture hammers in the 'what do you do?' question as shorthand for 'who are you? what drives you?"  

And just for a thought - why can't academia be his thing that gives life meaning? 

 

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What helped my cynic was agreeing that the system is rigged. Yes, you must learn a certain body of knowledge if you want to be considered for the gig. Your personality alone wont get you there, and the employer isnt going to offer ojt. If you want a gig, you have to audition. Your roommate who didnt have a job at grad...when did he get serious and have his resume made and applications out? The system is rigged so you have to do that well in advance if you want to start the job in June.

 

Next helpful was to meet men a few years older in the same major, as well as recall which dads he knew were in the same major....that showed him success was possible and he had a helpful network.

 

Thirdly, we assure him we have his back. I graduated in an economic depression. Very difficult to find a job, but 9 months later, hiring unfroze and lots of offers. Looks like kid isnt going to have that barrier, the young men he met gave him good suggestions, including their shop.

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Just hard because all of his friends in his field have internships.  For some this is their second summer in a row.  I believe most of them in his department have them.  And yes, we suggested talking to profs many times.  Not sure if he did or not.

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Has he compared what he did to get a job to what his friends did?

Has he compared qualifications?

Has he taken advantage of the career center at his U?

Edited by Heigh Ho

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That is fine but we are all panicking over what he will do after graduation. He has never had a paying job.

 

may I gently suggest that if "we are all panicking" is not hyperbole, that perhaps he is picking up on your angst and feeling like he doesn't measure up to what your version of success and a life well-lived means. 

 

What everyone else is doing or getting really doesn't matter. He is an individual and will mature and grow on his timetable. Anxiety can cause avoidance as well. Your anxious about his future, he's anxious too, then he shuts down and doesn't take the next steps necessary. 

 

Honestly, I would suggest looking into solitary travel, not mission trips, not group trips, but get out on your own and see someplace completely different type of travel. Even if it's just camping for the weekend alone or with a friend. If he doesn't like the outdoors, maybe a weekend away to start. 

 

He sounds bored, stuck, and feeling pressured to change on a timeline he may not fit. 

 

Ds is not a huge fan of "the system." We talk a lot about what hoops are necessary to jump through in order to get what he wants. 

 

What does your ds want out of life? Not job wise, but life wise, what does he want to be in character? 

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What does he want out of life? I don't know. He has always been private. He loves sports and wants to program. He wants friends but has never had close ones. He has told me that is one big disappointment. He went to college so excited to make friends and it didn't happen.

Does he mean a close friend that is female?

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If he is feeling bitter towards the economics of programming, but enjoys the act itself, he might get some traction volunteering with the Free Software Foundation or one of the other open-source groups. The software they produce is non-commercial, but maybe it would allow him to get some experience working with like-minded programmers.

Edited by Anacharsis

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If he is staying at your house, you tell him that he has to go see a therapist ince a week and be making forward progress. You do not micromanage that, but it sounds like those are your qualifiers. They are logical. They are about his health and future. Leave the door open with a "if you need help with either, we are here." Don't direct his entire day, but make the big things stand out. Give him three weeks to get it all settled and then hold firm.

 

As you said, this is where the line would be with your middle. That means this is where the line should be with your older. The approach should obviously be different, but not the line.

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Yes, I agree he needs to be seeing the therapist. Probably you, too, for advice on how to handle the way it's impacting the family. (Separately, or as part of a family therapy session.)

 

You seem super-focused on productivity and career path. I guess I would be more focused on the health aspects. Long walks listening to podcasts might be helping him deal with something that's bothering him. But, I would be at least a tiny bit nosy about what he's listening to: you don't want him consuming media that reinforces his negative emotions.

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I think you need to step back from wanting to micro-manage his life.

 

It seems clear from your posts that he needs some help from at least a therapist.  I think it's appropriate to insist he see one regularly.  I think it's appropriate to have employment requirements, but I think it needs to be his choice and he needs to manage it.  I don't think there's anything inappropriate or intrusive about asking what podcasts he's listening to.  Conversation.  I don't see any problem with listening to podcasts & walking.  

 

I think that while he will always be your child, you need to find a way to navigate the relationship with him as an adult.  Therapy would be helpful for you in this regard.

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Leave him alone, let him get his head together and see how he does next semester. One summer of not doing anything isn't going to ruin his life. Maybe his brain needs that time to work through some things.

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Yeah, the problem is this is the 3rd summer.  All of his friends in college have internships this year and most had them last summer as well.  He has never had a paying job.

Edited by seekinghim45

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I guess my problem is this.  If I say, you must go see a therapist.  What is the consequence if he doesn't?  Take away the car?  Not a problem.  He isn't using it anyway.  He hasn't gone anywhere all summer other than to go interview for one of these or to go pick up his 14yo sister at my request.  His brother's car is under recall for an air bag issue, so his brother borrows his since he isn't using it.

 

Take away his phone.  I guess.  But then he loses what access he  has to his friends back from college.  

 

Other than that I'm not sure what I am willing to do.  

 

The consequence if he doesn't is that you love him anyway. You don't take away stuff or give out punishments that you would at 14. He's 21, you can not "ground" him into see a therapist. You accept that as an adult, his choices will have their own consequences. 

 

 

Is your son an introvert? I know you don't see being on the computer as being productive, it can be in many ways for an introvert. I do agree that maybe a therapist would be in order, but not everyone that hangs out online during a summer break in college is bound to be the unemployed nerd living in Mom's basement at 35. 

 

You say you don't say any of this to him, but kids are smart, they pick up on moods and sense tension even if nothing is said. You cannot compare him and his future success to what is happening right now to his college peers. I sense a fear in your posts that because he has never had a job that he will never get one. I say this because I know you're a Christian, but in those worries, you are not trusting in God, instead you are relying on man. God may have wonderful things in store for your son which may only happen because of the path he is on now, even the unemployed computer playing path. 

 

What would I do? I would go to my son. I would say. "I just wanted you to know that I love you, right where you are, for who you are right now. I'm sorry if you've felt pressured by life lately or by me. I want you to know that I will love you always."  then you stop talking, not buts, not consequence conversation, no job talk, no what have you been doing. Christians are admonished to turn to God in their times of trouble. In a quest to be Christ-like I would want to be that safety for my son, for his physical, spiritual, and mental well-being.

 

 

dislcaimer:  I say all this as the mom of a son who has spent a great deal of his summer on the computer. He's happy and content. We've had some huge tensions over the last few years and we will be moving next month, so this break is a short break time. He has a challenging school semester coming up and he does not function well if he's had no real down time. 

 

I've had to gently remind him about chores and such and remind him I'm busy with classes and need his help. 

 

My parents purposely changed how they viewed our relationship when my sister and I became adults. It was a bit different for me as I wasn't in college and didn't live at home for some of my early adult years, but they began to see us as adults and treat our choices as valid, even if they thought they were bad or advised us against it. They were also there when I fell on my face a few times. I have a great relationship with my mom mostly because of the way she responded to the choices I made as an adult (both good and bad). 

 

I know you want the best for your son and that your worries are well-intentioned.  :grouphug:

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I've told him that I love him no matter what.  HE is very upset that he didn't get an internship.  It really worries him.  He envisioned himself working away from home every day and yet he is back again doing the same old thing.  He actually wanted to stay in his college town. 

 

So do the rest of you agree with her?  Do nothing but just encourage?  On the thread with the book other people are having me help him figure out a fall internship ( which was on my radar anyway.)  

 

I don't see how you can do anything but encourage. At 21, he needs to take the initiative; he cannot have mom find him a job.

It sounds as if he is depressed, and I agree with those who suggested therapy.

 

Being a young adult is a stressful time. Economic realities are what they are. If he does not have an internship and wants to position himself for better job chances, he can work freelance (there should be plenty of things to do for a person with solid programming skills) or develop his own apps. But he needs to want to do it. I think he may be in a  place mentally where he cannot bring himself to, and that must be addressed; you finding him a job won't address the underlying mental health issue.

I am saying this gently: I do not believe he is depressed because he did not find work; he may not have found work (which includes self employment) because he is depressed and unconsciously sabotaging himself.

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I don't see how you can do anything but encourage. At 21, he needs to take the initiative; he cannot have mom find him a job.

It sounds as if he is depressed, and I agree with those who suggested therapy.

 

Being a young adult is a stressful time. Economic realities are what they are. If he does not have an internship and wants to position himself for better job chances, he can work freelance (there should be plenty of things to do for a person with solid programming skills) or develop his own apps. But he needs to want to do it. I think he may be in a  place mentally where he cannot bring himself to, and that must be addressed; you finding him a job won't address the underlying mental health issue.

I am saying this gently: I do not believe he is depressed because he did not find work; he may not have found work (which includes self employment) because he is depressed and unconsciously sabotaging himself.

 

This is a very likely scenario.

 

A person who is not dealing with depression and anxiety can take a setback (such as not getting an expected job) and turn right around and apply for ten more. They can go into an interview and present as gung-ho and an excellent candidate for the position.

 

A person struggling with mental health is fighting themself every step of the way--it is almost impossible to even apply for a position, let alone present well in an interview--regardless of how well their skill set and experience match up with what is required. And one disappointment can set them back for months as their brain falls into negative self-talk and discouragement.

 

And--if they land a job it isn't going to fix the underlying health struggles and their ability to perform on the job will be severely limited.

 

I have been a support person for dh as he muddles through this swamp for years and years, and I can tell you that the best help has come from addressing his mental health issues, including medication and therapy.

 

It's a tough place to be for you, and tougher for your ds. I hope you are able to help him get the treatment he needs.

 

It was helpful for my husband when he was going through a period of unemployment to find something to do that felt like moving forward. He took a class at a local university; that might be possible if there is a school near you that has short summer terms that haven't started yet. Community education classes might also be an option, as would be volunteering as an unpaid intern for some local company. Something to get him out of the house on a regular basis and feeling like he is doing something productive.

Edited by maize
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We have been in a similar situation with one of my sons.  He, too, was never the social butterfly and while he loves to be socially active, he finds it difficult and awkward.  He graduated with MechE in 2015.  He never had an internship. I'm sure his interviews were awkward and I just prayed that the powers that be could overlook that and see a super intelligent, super kind individual.  He landed an internship *after* graduation.  It was a great experience for him, but still no "best friend". He spent summers doing lawn work...certainly not in his career path.  But it was good.  He was happy.  He is moving on to graduate school this fall where I believe he will blossom and mature.

 

Like Regentrude said above, life is hard at 21.  Some kids are late bloomers (mine were/are).   It is difficult to find summer jobs for these college kids, so if your son isn't working, that isn't unusual.  The best motivation I found with my kids was to do things with them.  If I wanted them to volunteer somewhere, that meant I volunteered as well.  That also worked toward relationship building.  From there it has been easier to talk about the hard issues (depression, life choices, job hunting, etc.).

 

I think you have a few years to go before being worried about his career path.  Let him relax this summer and try to find things to do *with* him.  I would definitely discuss the subject of depression with him and see if you and he can find some help there. 

 

 

 

 

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I've told him that I love him no matter what. HE is very upset that he didn't get an internship. It really worries him. He envisioned himself working away from home every day and yet he is back again doing the same old thing. He actually wanted to stay in his college town.

 

So do the rest of you agree with her? Do nothing but just encourage? On the thread with the book other people are having me help him figure out a fall internship ( which was on my radar anyway.)

You should stop encouraging, and get his medical needs attended to, and, if you know someone (male, in the biz) who can help him with interview skills, hand him their business card.

 

When does his college apt lease start? He may have better luck finding a fall internship if he starts marketing himself before school starts.

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Great... some of you say quit encouraging some say only encourage. I don't want to screw up again. I need the right answer.

None of us know your situation as personally as you do. We can make guesses, but we won't all agree.

 

Even if you see a therapist, there is probably no one "right answer." You will have to talk through options and possible ways of looking at his situation and what changes if any are needed.

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:grouphug:

 

Does your son want an internship this fall?  If he does, maybe the two of you could work together now to create a plan to make that happen.  He may be feeling overwhelmed right now.  By creating an action plan that has a small series of steps, he may feel a sense of control and accomplishment throughout the process. 

 

Also, by working together to come up with the action plan, it may help him realize that you are there to support him. 

 

Good luck   :grouphug: 

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So 8FillTheHeart suggests this

 

Then being idle is probably feeding his depression.  I would treat him like a child and tomato stake him.  I would not let him go off and spend hours alone.  I would make him engage with me and work in the same space that I am in.  I would still be making him do the website.  It would not be an option.  Not feeling like you are capable of doing anything productive is not helping his mental state.  He should ask your friend if he can use her as a reference if he changes his attitude and engages.

 

This is the OPPOSITE of the above advice to just love him and drop the whole job thing.  How do I know...

 

Encouraging activity can be a good solution to lift a temporary funk in a healthy individual, but I have not found the above approach to be a cure for clinical depression. The latter belongs in the hands of a competent therapist. Mom nagging about doing stuff does not heal depression.

The one situation where I would tomato stake a depressed young adult would be if I had to worry that he was suicidal. Even then, I would not force him to do activities, but just be constantly present to keep watch.

I have the utmost respect for 8FillTheHeart, but I fail to see how one can "make" a depressed young adult do anything.

 

ETA: Sometimes, quiet time for introspection can be necessary  and instrumental for finding healing.

Edited by regentrude
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Great... some of you say quit encouraging some say only encourage. I don't want to screw up again. I need the right answer.

There is no one right answer. That's what makes parenting young adults so tricky.

 

:grouphug:

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From that conversation i would say he has absolutely no desire to talk to you about this. He is respecting and honoring you as his mother by devulging as much as he is. Nyou need to get him someone else to talk o and be sure he knows they cannot tell anyone else what he says. At this point ust be his mom, not his career director. Talk to him like someone you love, not someone who is depressed or floundering or whatever.

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From that conversation i would say he has absolutely no desire to talk to you about this. He is respecting and honoring you as his mother by devulging as much as he is. Nyou need to get him someone else to talk o and be sure he knows they cannot tell anyone else what he says. At this point ust be his mom, not his career director. Talk to him like someone you love, not someone who is depressed or floundering or whatever.

 

How do you suggest I go about doing this?  That was the whole point of having him call his psychologist.  

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