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Another (long) post about my son . . . (Update #2 in post 172)


Jenny in Florida
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I never know how much background to include; I don't want to bore people who might remember my previous posts, but I also don't want to waste the time of folks who might want to be helpful but not know enough about the situation . . . 

 

So, as quickly as possible:

 

I have this son. In a lot of ways, he's awesome. He's brilliant and creative and not nearly as much trouble as an awful lot of other guys his age. One consistent issue we have, though, is lack of follow-through in dealing with various kinds of administrative stuff. A couple of examples: He started full-time college at 16, living on campus 90 minutes from home. His first semester wasn't great, but he got his act together academically and did fine-to-very well after that. However, he twice ended up missing deadlines to sign up for a dorm room, and once he ignored issues with his registration that resulted in him being temporarily un-enrolled (while still going to class and doing all assignments). 

 

After two years at the private university, he decided to switch gears, major-wise, and we agreed he'd move back home and do a  year at the community college while he got his ducks in a row to apply for transfer to the state university (also local). The understanding/goal was that he would check off the boxes remaining to get an associate's degree, which would make it easier to transfer (and, since I have always harbored a bit of doubt about whether he'd actually stick to the whole school thing long enough to get a bachelor's, I selfishly knew I'd sleep better if he had at least one official piece of paper to show for his time). He's done great at the CC, honor roll both semesters (4.0 for one of them) while carrying more than a full-time load and working part-time and doing a variety of theatre-related activities.

 

What he hasn't done is -- you guessed it -- actually finish the associate's OR jump through the hoops to line up the transfer.

 

I told my husband that I often feel like, when it comes to academics, our son is like a wind-up toy: Once I get him prepped and pointed in the right direction and set him down at the starting line, he'll keep chugging along for as long as necessary. What he can't seem to manage is doing any of the prep work or strategizing on his own. Back at the beginning of the summer, we decided to roll with this and have me continue in the role of administrative assistant for a while longer, while trying to encourage/teach him to take on more of this, himself. 

 

To that end, back in early June, he and I sat down and had a chat about his plans. I said repeatedly that, if he had changed his mind about the transfer, that was fine; he just needed some kind of plan for how to proceed from here.  If he wanted to look at different colleges, cool. If he wanted to take a year off and work full time, cool. (He has talked several times about auditioning for one of the cruise ships or a touring production, for example.) If he wanted to try for an internship or apprenticeship at a local theatre, cool. If he had some other idea and/or wanted help brainstorming, cool. He was adamant that he wanted to follow through with transferring to the state university and was downright dismissive of my attempts to open a conversation about alternatives.

 

[i had typed out a bunch of details here about what happened next, but I doubt that would be interesting to anyone. So, suffice it to say . . .]

 

He submitted the transfer application, and we ordered transcripts. However, he dropped the ball on making sure all of the documents were received and has now missed the transfer application deadline.

 

Three weeks ago, my husband and son and I sat down again and had a meeting about the situation. We told him -- again -- that we are open to all kinds of possibilities, but that the one thing he may not do is not be in school and continue to be treated like a kid. We explained that, if he's not enrolled in some kind of formal educational program leading to some kind of credential, then he needs to start functioning like a contributing adult in the household (or move out). We all agreed to a deadline of the end of this month for him to work out a plan and show us evidence that he is enrolled in something, somewhere for this fall OR we would figure out how his role in he household would be changing.

 

That deadline is Monday. To the naked eye, it does not appear that he has done anything at all to put any kind of plan in place. He's actually away for the weekend, but I did mention to him before he left that Monday marks the end of the month, just so he wouldn't be surprised when he returns.

 

I should hasten to explain that, it's not like he's a slacker. He has genuinely been very busy. He drives his girlfriend to her summer classes and has been recruited to help out with various things: performing in and making last-minute costumes and working backstage at the recital of his former dance school, partnering students enrolled in his girlfriend's dance class and performing in their semester-ending performance, designing and sewing two skirts for his sister, making a couple of  costumes for another friend's community theatre show, designing and making costumes for himself and his girlfriend for two different conventions, auditioning for professional performance gigs of his own and still working at the theme park on an on-call basis. 

 

He actually does have some casting news that is potentially very cool, but I'm not allowed to share details about that until an official announcement is made. What I can say is that it is not something that would prevent him from continuing to go to school and does not seem to be anything like a full-time job, in terms of income.

 

So, if you're still with me, here I am finally getting to the actual question:

 

If this were your young adult, what would you consider appropriate steps to transition him from functioning as a kid/student to becoming a contributing adult member of the household, assuming that he does not come to us with the agreed-upon plan/evidence on Monday?

 

My husband and I consulted about this briefly and have already decided that the small allowance we give our son that was initially intended to provide spending money and cover incidentals while he was on campus will be discontinued more or less immediately. Several months ago, we sold him my old car at a greatly reduced rate, but held onto the registration and title in order to make it easier to handle insurance. Because he hasn't gotten around to setting up the e-Pass I bought for him, we have gotten several toll-by-plate bills, all of which are in my husband's name. I have paid them promptly, and my son has (not quite so promptly) paid me back. However, when the registration is up for renewal in September, we plan to go ahead and put that in our son's name so that he will be fully responsible. At that point, we will also likely require him to get his own insurance, rather than just having him pay half of the increase in our rates that resulted from putting him on our policy.

 

When we talked to him a few weeks ago, I pointed out that "contributing" does not necessarily refer only to financial stuff. For all of the years I was a SAHM, there were long stretches during which I brought no money into the house. My contribution during those years was raising and educating him and his sister and doing the majority of the household upkeep and generally managing everyone's lives and schedules. Since he is not currently working many hours, it's probably not meaningful to talk about monetary rent. But we do want him to "feel" this transition. So, I'd appreciate hearing what you require of any young adult offspring who live with you and are not in school.

 

A final consideration: My ultimate goal, here, is to nudge him towards getting back in school. I absolutely do not want to make this so unpleasant/difficult/contentious that he opts to give up/move out/take whatever crappy full-time job he can get just so he can scrape up enough to pay his bills. I want to design a situation that, as much as possible, makes him see that he had a good thing going and motivate him to step up and take responsibility for getting back on track. 

Edited by Jenny in Florida
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how old is he now?   yes - it matters.   it may simply be a developmental thing because boys brains do take longer.   they have to be ready to make progress - you can only push or drag to a point. (and only when they're willing).  sometimes handholding . . but ultimately, they have to want it for themselves.

 

I've btdt with both of my ya dss.  (my girls were so easy ... . . .  they made up for it.)   trying to be supportive while being incredibly frustrated  - you just have to work through what they're capable of doing.   they are *finally* both taking all initiative for what they have to do with school, have good grades, work part-time, and will be jr's this fall. 

 

can he get an internship/part-time job related to his desired field?  it could help with that last push to progress.

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I think that there are many kids who won't grow up until they have to (and I have personal experience with this!). Having the bills in his name, a shelf for his own groceries that he buys with his own money, and things like that can help. But it is hard to change the expectations for someone who is used to being a kid at home. My dd had to move out to grow up. It has been great for her! Not the cheapest of course, but I look at the rent she paid as covering more than housing - it also gave her valuable skills in budgeting and being responsible. We helped out with a car and insurance, and sometimes medical bills (she covered copays and small bills).

 

My dd took a break from college. For her, it was the right choice. She needed work experience and life experience more than she needed college. She plans to go back, and I think she will do even better than before.

 

It's great that your son keeps busy. But the things he does are for fun, not for money or professional advancement. He needs to have bills that he can't pay unless he works. He needs to have bills that won't get paid by anyone else if he forgets. He needs to know that the safety net is far, far away and not to be relied upon. Basically he needs to realize that if he doesn't do something, it will hurt him - and feel that hurt. Let him fail - he will figure it out!

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how old is he now?   yes - it matters.   it may simply be a developmental thing because boys brains do take longer.   they have to be ready to make progress - you can only push or drag to a point. (and only when they're willing).  sometimes handholding . . but ultimately, they have to want it for themselves.

 

I've btdt with both of my ya dss.  (my girls were so easy ... . . .  they made up for it.)   trying to be supportive while being incredibly frustrated  - you just have to work through what they're capable of doing.   they are *finally* both taking all initiative for what they have to do with school, have good grades, work part-time, and will be jr's this fall. 

 

can he get an internship/part-time job related to his desired field?  it could help with that last push to progress.

 

He's 19.

 

The job he has is related to his area of interest. The issue is that his position is seasonal, meaning hours are extremely irregular. He has applied for a few other, similar jobs, including for an opening in his current department that would be the same job but with regular part-time hours. He has also, as I mentioned, auditioned this summer for several professional performance jobs. The super-secret thing he has been cast in is, in theory, paid, but he hasn't yet been given any details about what that means. 

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Get in his car and have him drive you to the local CC. Get yourself a cup of coffee and wait in the hallway while he gets the associates paperwork taken care of. He's got about 3 years of school done, so he should be close to an associates degree. Some community colleges will issue graduation dates for the end of the summer semester, so his diploma will say, "August 2017."

 

If he picks the transfer, get in his car and have him drive you to the StateU. Get more coffee and wait in the hallway (again) till someone agrees to the transfer. Help him be persistent. It's not unheard of for students to register this late in the summer.

 

I'm saying all of this because sometimes college is more like a "big business" than an academic experience. He just needs someone to help him just thru the last few hoops of paperwork. 

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Hm, if at all possible I would try to push him into finishing a degree (even if it means you have to check his paperwork etc.). It sounds like he is already more than halfway there (it is late here though and I skimmed part of the intro so I may have misunderstood in which case I am sorry). Once he has a degree I would push towards having him move out/contribute financially etc.

 

It just seems that if you push too hard before he has a degree it might end up hurting him. On the other hand, I do think it is important to move on with his life.

 

I would feel different if it was a case of him being lazy, disrespectful etc. But it sounds like he genuinely has a hard time with follow-through and maybe needs a bit more help at this point.

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It's great that your son keeps busy. But the things he does are for fun, not for money or professional advancement. He needs to have bills that he can't pay unless he works. He needs to have bills that won't get paid by anyone else if he forgets. He needs to know that the safety net is far, far away and not to be relied upon. Basically he needs to realize that if he doesn't do something, it will hurt him - and feel that hurt. Let him fail - he will figure it out!

 

Well, it's not quite true that none of the things he's doing are professional development, though. Since his major and career plans all relate to theatre -- including costuming and backstage/tech -- pretty much everything he's done this summer (except for driving his girlfriend around) works to build his resume. By partnering the students in his girlfriend's dance class, he's basically been allowed to take class for free all summer, and, although it didn't add up to more than a tankful of gas, he did get paid a small amount for each of the costumes he made for the community theatre show. Even while he's away at the convention this weekend, he's carrying business cards to hand out to anyone who admires the costumes he made for himself and his girlfriend.

 

I totally agree about the bills and such, although, again, I would really like to structure this transition so that he has the opportunity to make a quick turn-around and get back in school. That's the sweet spot I'm trying to hit, to make life uncomfortable enough that he feels it, but not so difficult that he opts to just cut his losses.

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It sounds to me like he needs executive functioning coaching.

 

He's been in a number of situations and missed multiple deadlines and opportunities due to not teaching himself how to juggle a complicated schedule. It hasn't worked so far. Adding yet another complication to his life to "force" him to figure things out may or may not work. He likely needs to be taught explicitly.

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It's great that your son keeps busy. But the things he does are for fun, not for money or professional advancement. He needs to have bills that he can't pay unless he works. He needs to have bills that won't get paid by anyone else if he forgets. He needs to know that the safety net is far, far away and not to be relied upon. Basically he needs to realize that if he doesn't do something, it will hurt him - and feel that hurt. Let him fail - he will figure it out!

Yes, consequences, without a buffer.

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Get in his car and have him drive you to the local CC. Get yourself a cup of coffee and wait in the hallway while he gets the associates paperwork taken care of. He's got about 3 years of school done, so he should be close to an associates degree. Some community colleges will issue graduation dates for the end of the summer semester, so his diploma will say, "August 2017."

 

If he picks the transfer, get in his car and have him drive you to the StateU. Get more coffee and wait in the hallway (again) till someone agrees to the transfer. Help him be persistent. It's not unheard of for students to register this late in the summer.

 

I'm saying all of this because sometimes college is more like a "big business" than an academic experience. He just needs someone to help him just thru the last few hoops of paperwork. 

 

He is three classes short of fulfilling the requirements for the associate's. I mean, he has a ton of credit hours, way more than is necessary for the AA, but there are three boxes he needs to check off. 

 

I am more than happy to do some nudging and hand-holding to help with paperwork. That's how he got enrolled at the CC for this past year. The ongoing dilemma is whether/how/how much to push. 

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Well, I will be the dissenting voice and say HELP HIM.

I needed help keeping track of deadlines and administrative adulting things until I hit my 30s.  It truly just didn't click until then.  I wanted to be able to do things and even had my own apartments and bills in my name, but I still needed someone willing to hold my hand and help keep me on track.  Even now that I've had a mortgage for 4 or 5 years (can't remember exactly), with work/homeschooling/college/housework/etc, having to keep track of due dates and deadlines is wicked hard sometimes and I still miss things.  I can easily put myself in your son's shoes and say that when your brain is filled up with trying to be a good student and work and do creative things, the things that fall through the cracks first are administrative deadlines.  Especially if you are a creative person.

Now, you know your son, and know whether he just doesn't want to grow up or is manifesting some sort of laziness.  If that is definitely not the case, please give him some grace.  I can't imagine how much of a mess my life would be if I didn't have some significant adulting hand-holding.

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It sounds to me like he needs executive functioning coaching.

 

He's been in a number of situations and missed multiple deadlines and opportunities due to not teaching himself how to juggle a complicated schedule. It hasn't worked so far. Adding yet another complication to his life to "force" him to figure things out may or may not work. He likely needs to be taught explicitly.

 

Yes, it sounds like he needs a manager more than a mother.  Or maybe a manger-mother.  

 

OP, I know nothing about the field he's in, but if he's moving 'forward' at all, and I wouldn't mind his living with us, I'd be inclined to let him explore anything and everything while he lives at home.  The only thing I might cut off is his spending (my??) money on girlfriends.  I would only be willing to support HIM, IOW, not his girlfriend.

Edited by lllll
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I wouldn't be too hung up on his age at this point. My dd is likely gifted, though I've never had her tested to be sure. She flies through any academic material I give her, and can memorize anything very quickly. There's no doubt in my mind that I could start college work with her at 14, and she could leave home with a degree. But, life isn't academics. Sure, they need education and skills, but they also need street smarts, and the sorts of planning skills your son is struggling to manage. We have put academics on hold for a year with dd, for the specific reason of forcing her to focus on real life. She's got the facts, but she needs experience.

 

It's ok if you need to back pedal a bit and help him learn these skills. Meet him where he's at, and teach him one step at a time. I think you should get his school stuff figured out, so he gets a degree, but I also think you should give him smaller paperwork and etc tasks to build up his ability.

 

He seems to be missing some skills, not be beligerent. I wouldn't shove the bird out of the best for that.

 

However, I only have experience up to parenting a 12 year old. I might have the worst advice ever and should be ignored. :)

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I'm leaning towards being compassionate. If he had entered college after a traditional four years of high school, he would just finished his freshman year, right?

 

If he was a 5 year old kindergarten student, working at the 4th grade level, you'd probably still have to teach him to tie his shoes?  He's academically advanced/gifted/something but he's a 19 year old developmentally.

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Maybe he is going along with the college plan because he thinks that mom might be disappointed or unhappy if he did not pursue it. Maybe he wants to do other things at this time. I am saying "maybe" because it looks like you are very motivated to see him get his degree and he seems very unmotivated to do that from your posts.

 

But, since your ultimate goal is to nudge him to finish college, what would happen if you asked him to quit his part time job, to stop working on all those other theater related projects that you mention and ask him to simply focus full time on finishing college? Will he then have enough time and ability to focus his attention on completing his degree? 

 

Another thing to do is to teach him how to write down reminders (using his phone calendar app or some other means) so that he can check at the end of each day what tasks he has missed for that day.

 

I would definitely make my young adult feel financial pressure if they are not pursuing a college degree and not contributing to the household.

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It's great that your son keeps busy. But the things he does are for fun, not for money or professional advancement. He needs to have bills that he can't pay unless he works. He needs to have bills that won't get paid by anyone else if he forgets. He needs to know that the safety net is far, far away and not to be relied upon. Basically he needs to realize that if he doesn't do something, it will hurt him - and feel that hurt. Let him fail - he will figure it out!

 

Yes! Sometimes the fun things need to stop. He has helped girlfriend a lot over time, from what you've shared. Work for himself should take precedence over him driving her to school/work. He may need to give up some of the fun and use that time for working part-time while in school OR working full-time without school.

 

I am by no means say "none of the fun stuff" but some so that he can make more money, getting closer to independence, especially if he chooses not to go to school.

 

I would add that I would still help but more with asking him to help create plan and doing weekly check-ins to support him in his planning.

Edited by QueenCat
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Get in his car and have him drive you to the local CC. Get yourself a cup of coffee and wait in the hallway while he gets the associates paperwork taken care of. He's got about 3 years of school done, so he should be close to an associates degree. Some community colleges will issue graduation dates for the end of the summer semester, so his diploma will say, "August 2017."

 

If he picks the transfer, get in his car and have him drive you to the StateU. Get more coffee and wait in the hallway (again) till someone agrees to the transfer. Help him be persistent. It's not unheard of for students to register this late in the summer.

 

I'm saying all of this because sometimes college is more like a "big business" than an academic experience. He just needs someone to help him just thru the last few hoops of paperwork. 

 

Yes, I'm seeing my 20 y.o. taking a lot more responsibility of late. It was like pulling teeth to get him to apply to the 4-year in March, but he got his associate's and is headed to the 4-year in the fall. He's working all of the issues there other than paying  :hurray: .

 

Big difference between 18 and 20 that way.

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Well, I will be the dissenting voice and say HELP HIM.

I needed help keeping track of deadlines and administrative adulting things until I hit my 30s.  It truly just didn't click until then.  I wanted to be able to do things and even had my own apartments and bills in my name, but I still needed someone willing to hold my hand and help keep me on track.  Even now that I've had a mortgage for 4 or 5 years (can't remember exactly), with work/homeschooling/college/housework/etc, having to keep track of due dates and deadlines is wicked hard sometimes and I still miss things.  I can easily put myself in your son's shoes and say that when your brain is filled up with trying to be a good student and work and do creative things, the things that fall through the cracks first are administrative deadlines.  Especially if you are a creative person.

Now, you know your son, and know whether he just doesn't want to grow up or is manifesting some sort of laziness.  If that is definitely not the case, please give him some grace.  I can't imagine how much of a mess my life would be if I didn't have some significant adulting hand-holding.

 

And that's where I've come down repeatedly, especially since he is still young and he works super hard at lots of things. 

 

I'm just getting tired and frustrated and kind of burned out, though. And I'm perfectly happy to help him, but I'm questioning if it's helping him to not require him to hold up even the smallest end of the deal. 

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But, since your ultimate goal is to nudge him to finish college, what would happen if you asked him to quit his part time job, to stop working on all those other theater related projects that you mention and ask him to simply focus full time on finishing college? Will he then have enough time and ability to focus his attention on completing his degree? 

 

I've floated that possibility more than once. I've told him that I would be perfectly happy for him not to work and to just focus on school. If he buckled down and was thoughtful about which classes he took, he could likely walk away with a B.A. by next summer. I think that would be a great idea.

 

He is not interested in that option.

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He is three classes short of fulfilling the requirements for the associate's. I mean, he has a ton of credit hours, way more than is necessary for the AA, but there are three boxes he needs to check off. 

 

I am more than happy to do some nudging and hand-holding to help with paperwork. That's how he got enrolled at the CC for this past year. The ongoing dilemma is whether/how/how much to push. 

We have the advantage of adult perspectives on what goals are most important and which are less so.  Additionally we know how and when to say no.  He's not there yet.  If I were you, I would haul him along the 'get a degree' path and let the rest slide a bit. OTOH, you can't be forever making threats and not following through, so because of that I would:  1)  Explicitly say that you have changed your mind about that particular one, and 2)  Avoid resetting those.

 

Nobody wants to stay home with their parents forever but artistic types have to deal with a ton of uncertainty in their employment so they look like 'failure to launch' longer than others do.  Since he's working hard, I would cut him a break, but I'd push hard on the school thing right now.

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I'd do it one more time, Jenny - the admin help of getting signed up for those three courses. Help him through that associate's, pretty much on whatever status quo got him thus far. I say that even though I think you went a bit too far in supporting him, driving, etc. but as a mother of four young men I know it's hard to see that while it's happening. BTDT. But just on the "dance with who brought you" principle, I'd see if through the AS at CC.

 

If he refuses, even with your help, then I would insist on a job and X amount of fin. contribution per month.

 

I know he hit some milestones early, but 19 is still early for extreme late bloomers.

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That said, I'm not sure that a semester having a crappy job wouldn't make him more motivated about his future.  Not much help, huh??  

 

Here's the thing: He's extremely bright and very competent and is likely to do pretty well even in a crappy job. My concern all along has been that, once he starts working and begins to think he can at least scrape by, he will lose whatever motivation remains to finish a degree.

 

And that would be fine, for now. However, I have every reason to believe, based on multiple exemplars on both sides of our family, that he will regret that decision later. And I know all too well how difficult it is to get back in school "later."

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Sounds like he could have some executive function problems/challenges (maybe even a disability?). Has he displayed problems when he was younger coordinating things, managing deadlines, following through on what needs to be done. I agree that at 19, since he's an adult, a lot will advise to let him sink or swim. But if there is a difference in how his brain functions, he may need support to learn how to function in the adult world with responsibilities and such. Some people need more scaffolding (technology, planners, phone reminders) to succeed.

 

Or maybe his goals are way different so he doesn't push himself as much. Or... ?

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And that's where I've come down repeatedly, especially since he is still young and he works super hard at lots of things. 

 

I'm just getting tired and frustrated and kind of burned out, though. And I'm perfectly happy to help him, but I'm questioning if it's helping him to not require him to hold up even the smallest end of the deal. 

 

I'm trying to remember all that you've done with your son but I'm sure I've missed some posts so I'm sorry if this is beating a dead horse.

Can you sit down with him, explain your burnout, and come up with a plan of attack for all upcoming deadlines?  And I mean seriously (maybe with tears!) explain how done you are but how you still want to help him succeed.

Example: There is an academic deadline Sept 28.  Together - not just you! - you go through the requirements and discover there are 3 steps to completion.

Steps 1 and 3 would be difficult for him because of his work so you take those on and he takes on Step 2.  You mark them on your family calendar, you set up weekly meetings to see how progress is being made, etc.

(The meetings together during the process are important!)

Explain that because of your burnout and because you are helping/have helped him in other ways, this is the last stop on the train.  If this doesn't work out, then he needs to come up with attack plans on his own/with girlfriend/with college counselors/whatever, but you'll be out.

If he says that texting him reminders on Mondays, or whatever, will help...but then that obviously doesn't help, then that's the end of it, ya know?  I would have no problem stopping after that.

 

Also, from a creative/unorganized person, telling me I need to come up with an alternate plan is about as helpful as telling me I need to get to the moon on Friday (at least it was when I was younger).    Hell yeah, I'll come up with a plan or a dozen, but will they will be feasible or practical?  That I would need help with!  I remember my mom sitting down with me one day and I had a list of all things I wanted to do and we went through each and every one of them as if they were possible and listed all the steps needed to accomplish whatever it was.  I had to see something concrete to even start to understand how plans are made and what all goes into them.  Even now, my mom or dad will help me with various plans, whether it's related to remodeling or school or homeschooling because it is soooo hard to see all the details.

 

I truly didn't mean for my last post to lay everything on you; I hope it didn't discourage you!   I tried, boy I tried to hold up my end with my parents.  But for every two times I did, I also failed once I'm sure.  So my caution would just be to keep giving grace as long as there is some evidence of trying or progress being made, however slight.

I think I rambled for quite a bit, sorry!

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Here's the thing: He's extremely bright and very competent and is likely to do pretty well even in a crappy job. My concern all along has been that, once he starts working and begins to think he can at least scrape by, he will lose whatever motivation remains to finish a degree.

 

And that would be fine, for now. However, I have every reason to believe, based on multiple exemplars on both sides of our family, that he will regret that decision later. And I know all too well how difficult it is to get back in school "later."

In that case, I'd strongly encourage him to finish now, before life gets more complicated.

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Someone here once referred to moms as the external brains of their kids. If he has executive function problems, he needs to be willing to learn the skills he's missing. The other choices adults have are to let stuff slide (or delegate to a spouse) or hire a secretary to be their brain. If he isn't willing to learn the skills, he needs to hire someone to be his brain.

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He is obviously incredibly bright.  He works very hard.  He went off to college at 16.  At the CC he has maintained a 4.0.  He helps his girlfriend.  He is involved in a lot of things.  He sounds like a terrific kid.

 

It seems his ONLY issue is with some of the paperwork processing and box checking?  And he is only 19.  I know a lot of 19 year olds that struggle with Executive Function issues and keeping track of box checking.  Give him grace and support and don't just discuss.  Help him gain better skills in this area by modeling and scaffolding and working through all that box checking together.  Eventually his brain will probably catch up in this area but right now he just isn't there yet.  

 

Applaud his strengths while you help him do better at scaffolding his weaker area.

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Well, it's not quite true that none of the things he's doing are professional development, though. Since his major and career plans all relate to theatre -- including costuming and backstage/tech -- pretty much everything he's done this summer (except for driving his girlfriend around) works to build his resume. By partnering the students in his girlfriend's dance class, he's basically been allowed to take class for free all summer, and, although it didn't add up to more than a tankful of gas, he did get paid a small amount for each of the costumes he made for the community theatre show. Even while he's away at the convention this weekend, he's carrying business cards to hand out to anyone who admires the costumes he made for himself and his girlfriend.

 

I totally agree about the bills and such, although, again, I would really like to structure this transition so that he has the opportunity to make a quick turn-around and get back in school. That's the sweet spot I'm trying to hit, to make life uncomfortable enough that he feels it, but not so difficult that he opts to just cut his losses.

 

 

He is three classes short of fulfilling the requirements for the associate's. I mean, he has a ton of credit hours, way more than is necessary for the AA, but there are three boxes he needs to check off. 

 

I am more than happy to do some nudging and hand-holding to help with paperwork. That's how he got enrolled at the CC for this past year. The ongoing dilemma is whether/how/how much to push. 

 

 

What is going on from his pov?

 

If he wants AA, but has trouble with lining up his ducks, help him.

 

If he wants to get out and start working etc., tell him you think a degree would be a good idea especially since he is only 3 classes away from it, but I'd let him pursue his own dreams if they are not a degree.

 

I am also not all that clear on how an AA actually helps all that much in terms of a theater career.   ????

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Well if it helps at all, my 19 year old son is exactly the same way. In fact I picked and registered him for all his classes in the fall. He's more than capable but the reality of the matter is that it overwhelms him to face handling all this stuff that he has no idea how to handle that it results in him being an ostrich with his head in the sand. So while I'd love to hand this stuff off to him, to me it's more important that he gets the degree. If it means my picking out his classes till its done, so be it. My DS freely shares his logins and passwords so I can check things to make sure they get done on time. There are things he simply has to do himself but at least when I know something is due, I can prod him till its done. I've seen growth the last couple of years but he's simply not ready to handle it on his own.

 

In your case, it seems like your DS needs a bit more framework yet. If he is still planning on getting the associates, then do what you have to help him complete the steps. My DS hates making phone calls. I actually scripted him a conversation so he could get the necessary information and I had to sit next to him while he called. He was still stressed beyond belief. So figure out what is next step is and help him accomplish it. Yes sometimes sink or swim is the way to go but without the degree realistically it will be so much harder. So I'd be doing whatever handholding necessary to get the paper, he can sink or swim after that.

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Here's the thing: He's extremely bright and very competent and is likely to do pretty well even in a crappy job. My concern all along has been that, once he starts working and begins to think he can at least scrape by, he will lose whatever motivation remains to finish a degree.

 

And that would be fine, for now. However, I have every reason to believe, based on multiple exemplars on both sides of our family, that he will regret that decision later. And I know all too well how difficult it is to get back in school "later."

 

 

If the desire for a degree is yours, not his, might it be possible to share your concerns with him and also for the family exemplars to talk with him? 

 

While he only has 3 classes to go to get an AA, that would make it seem like he has 2 years and 3 classes for a BA.

 

 

What jobs do you think he will want to get that he will be able to get different with the AA, or BA as compared to now?

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I am more than happy to do some nudging and hand-holding to help with paperwork. That's how he got enrolled at the CC for this past year. The ongoing dilemma is whether/how/how much to push.

I used to be firmly in the Just Do It For Them camp and then I learned that sometimes, if you push too hard, they resent you for putting them in a situation they didn't even know they didn't want to be in. Unfortunately, there's no way of really knowing how much you can do for them without it hurting them.

 

I know he's a smart kid, and I know that sometimes we confuse intelligence with maturity. Plus, I can imagine it's difficult to not compare him to your dd (whom I hope is doing well!) and end up not even being sure what you SHOULD be expecting of him.

 

And because I don't learn from my mistakes, I'd probably warn him that I am going to sit down with him and

We are going to map some goals out.

 

Fwiw, if I could afford to help him out with car/phone stuff, I would as long as I was able - provided he was either working or schooling.

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My older ds is 2E. When he was 6, he had huge evaluation at a children's hospital. After a couple of full days of testing and some extended period for professionals to analyze results, we sat down with a doctor. He said ds is very smart. He's going to do terrible in school until he gets to his PhD--ds will be ok when he's 25. You have to keep him alive until then. That was it. They couldn't give a roadmap except to say it would be very rocky and very windy.

 

If I'm not mistaken, based on past info your DS may be in the profoundly gifted range of IQ. That by itself is a bit of a handicap, because the world operates to serve people who are really above average. So there's a complete disconnect.

 

He's 19. I think if I wanted him to have a degree and I consider making regular appointments with him to get the steps done. He clearly is not mature enough to coordinate the crap details of life. So, I take him and sit outside the registrar's office while he did whatever to finish up the AA. then I'd sit and fo the transfer application with him and sit with him each time a new document needed to be completed for that application.

 

I know lots of people be will disagree, but lots of people do not have children who fall completely out of the realm of typical.

 

My ds graduated this spring after a few false starts at one college and a cc. He leaves in 2 weeks for the next step towards his dream of getting a PhD (just like the doctor said he would). I do think graduate degrees will be easier than his BA, because he will be doing only stuff he wants. My ds is 22. He'll be on his own across the country. I expect some bumps, but he is beginning to figure out follow through. Follow through for my ds was non-existent at 19.

 

Good luck

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how old is he now?   yes - it matters.   it may simply be a developmental thing because boys brains do take longer.   they have to be ready to make progress - you can only push or drag to a point. (and only when they're willing).  sometimes handholding . . but ultimately, they have to want it for themselves.

 

I've btdt with both of my ya dss.  (my girls were so easy ... . . .  they made up for it.)   trying to be supportive while being incredibly frustrated  - you just have to work through what they're capable of doing.   they are *finally* both taking all initiative for what they have to do with school, have good grades, work part-time, and will be jr's this fall. 

 

can he get an internship/part-time job related to his desired field?  it could help with that last push to progress.

 

:iagree: Some boys and especially smart boys take longer to get the executive function together.  I know my DH was this way.  My 16 year old son has had college ready ACT scores since middle school and is just starting part time this fall at 16 because I just think he's finally ready to jump through some of the hoops.  He is starting to talk in a somewhat practical way about a 4 year degree/potential carerrs.  I think your DS and my DS is still going to need to executive function support and I think that is totally fine if that works for him and you.  Brain development can continue especially for males into the mid-late 20's. 

 

It sounds like he is doing a lot of good things.  If he's working, I don't think eliminating an allowance for him is not necessarily a bad idea.  I think if he is willing to have help with follow through for a while yet to get that piece of paper, I think that is fine.  If he doesn't want help and is not doesn't listen at all, I think tough love may be the way to go.  I think resume building is great and fine, but money may be important too if he's going to be done with school and launch.  I think if you are going bananas and just need to be done, I think that is fair too. 

 

ETA - now that I'm reading the answers in this thread, it's very comforting to me.  Thanks all!  :)

Edited by WoolySocks
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I think I read all of the posts in this thread. Most before we ate Dinner and the rest after we finished, but now there seem to be more...  I think I read that he was away in an out-of-town Private College for 2 years, that he did one year in a CC, and that he had some DE courses, and that he needs 3 more courses, to get an AA degree from the CC, and that his mom (Jenny) thinks he could get a B.A.  in mid 2018.  If I have that right, I will try to play "devils advocate"  with a few comments...

 

If he is only 3 courses from an AA degree, I think that it should be *mandatory* that he finish those courses during the 2017-2018 school year.

 

If he can finish a B.A. in 2018, he should be on the path to doing that.

 

Theater Arts is not a good way for someone to earn money. I'm sure he knows that.  

 

How does he plan to support himself and his family, after he gets a B.A. in Theater Arts?

 

Is he thinking of changing Major. if he transfers to the state university?

 

He is very active and other than driving his girlfriend around (he is her Uber driver), that experience probably will look good on his resume, if he has permission to give the people he did the work for as References. Sort of like an Internship.

 

He was very young when he went to the out of town university and that probably wasn't a good thing for him to have done but he seems to have survived it OK.

 

I don't think he should be allowed to not be enrolled, at the minimum, for the 3 courses he needs, in school, and to live at home.

Edited by Lanny
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Here's the thing: He's extremely bright and very competent and is likely to do pretty well even in a crappy job. My concern all along has been that, once he starts working and begins to think he can at least scrape by, he will lose whatever motivation remains to finish a degree.

 

And that would be fine, for now. However, I have every reason to believe, based on multiple exemplars on both sides of our family, that he will regret that decision later. And I know all too well how difficult it is to get back in school "later."

 

I hear you. I have many examples from my family, too, that could help back you up.

 

While I'm usually rather tough and don't shield my kids from regretting their bad choices in many cases, in this instance, I think you're right. If he will consent to the helicoptering and you think it's worth it to get him through those last 3 classes and with his paper in hand, I do think it's better than putting him in a financial position where school as a priority will fade-- and at 19, too, an age when many kids in my freshman class  showed up after a "gap year" and made their share of mistakes and managed to graduate because they had people looking out for them-- parents and advisors who were invested in making sure that they didn't veer off-track and that college remained the path of least resistance.

 

With that said, if what he really needs is a break and not just prodding, he could conceivably take his own version of a "gap year" and not lose his credits, right? I know it seems scary-- he might not go back-- but he might be burned out, too. If he could spend his time doing something really cool (this current opportunity you mentioned?) and then go back when it comes to a logical conclusion (if it does), that might work. As others have mentioned, he is still on track for a kid his age.

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In all this discussion, maybe I missed it, but I have not seen the answer to the question: what does HE want?

You say what you want for him. You say what he does not want.

But what the heck is it that he wants? 

Is the constant dropping the ball for years (four years of college without completing an Associates?) really just an expression of an executive functioning deficiency (he seems to be functioning fine when it comes to dance?), or can it be that he subconsciously resists to continue on the path you have chosen for him? Reapeatedly messing up deadlines that would get him to actually finish a degree seems too random to be executive functioning. Are you sure that he is not subconsciously sabotaging himself because he does not want what you want?

 

Just throwing this out there.

Edited by regentrude
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This child sounds like he has ADHD but it has been hidden by his intelligence.  Don't worry, DH and I were both like that, and to some extent so was my dad. DH was helped by a job (that I would consider abusive) where they yelled at him all the time.  My dad was helped by military boot camp.  Neither sound like a good option for your son.

 

He needs to be evaluated by whoever your community college recommends.  He probably needs medicine and cognitive behavioral therapy to help him develop a structure to accomplish his goals. He may decide not to medicate - the medicines will dampen his creativity but enhance his focus and ability to get things done.

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In all this discussion, maybe I missed it, but I have not seen the answer to the question: what does HE want?

You say what you want for him. You say what he does not want.

But what the heck is it that he wants? 

Is the constant dropping the ball for years (four years of college without completing an Associates?) really just an expression of an executive functioning deficiency (he seems to be functioning fine when it comes to dance?), or can it be that he subconsciously resists to continue on the path you have chosen for him? Reapeatedly messing up deadlines that would get him to actually finish a degree seems too random to be executive functioning. Are you sure that he is not subconsciously sabotaging himself because he does not want what you want?

 

Just throwing this out there.

 

I've asked him that very question. He repeatedly says that, although school is not his favorite thing, he does want to finish a degree. 

 

Ultimately, he'd like to direct his own performing arts school/company. Although he hopes to get some years of professional experience both onstage and backstage before starting that venture, he also recognizes that having a degree may be helpful when/if he does try to get a business underway. 

 

Honestly, I think part of the problem is that he's interested in and talented at so many different things that it's hard for him to settle down into ANY one of them.

 

When he was 10, he was training at the pre-professional ballet school. For as long as any of us can remember, he had wanted to dance. As soon as he was old enough, he started taking lessons. He was good-not-great, but, as a boy had lots of opportunities to perform. He loved lots of things about being there, but he also chafed at the limits it created on other things he also loved and wanted to do.

 

For a few years, he was able to balance the pre-pro training with a serious boychoir and some theatre on the side. 

 

Then he got an opportunity to do a paid, out-of-town theatre gig, and things got very unpleasant at the dance school, because they insisted that dance had to be his priority. Meanwhile, his choir director and voice teacher were telling me he needed to give music more attention, because he has a wonderful voice, and he was getting featured/lead roles in youth and community theatre productions. And meanwhile, he was at least two grades ahead of his age peers academically. 

 

Eventually, he decided to leave the pre-pro school and find somewhere else to dance, because he wasn't ready to focus on just that one thing.

 

After bouncing around a bit, looking for a dance school that would offer him quality training but also enough flexibility to keep singing and doing theatre, he found a small, family-run studio. He started with one class per week. At the end of that year, they awarded him a scholarship for additional classes. By the end of that year, he was on the competition team and assistant teaching. In his third year at the studio, he was spending 18+ hours there per week and won a state-wide dance title. 

 

I don't think that what is happening now is all that different. He opted not to take classes this summer, so that he could work and focus on some other things. But, because he had been one of the star students in the dance class he took last semester, he was invited to "drop in" whenever he happened to be on campus with his girlfriend. He went to a few classes with her, figuring, hey, free dance class, and was asked if he would do some partner work. This led to him having a featured role in the semester-ending performance, even though he wasn't even enrolled in the class.

 

He ended up making a few costumes for the dance studio's recital this summer, because he had been invited to do a solo and, while he was hanging around rehearsals, the studio owner mentioned she needed some things. Her daughter told her my son was good at costumes and sewing, and by the end of the day, he'd agreed to take on the project. 

 

His "problem" has always been that, even when he's just dabbling in something, he is very quickly in demand and gets opportunities to do more and more. He, like me, is a person who really likes being busy and productive. And, because he enjoys it all, he always has a ton of balls in the air. 

 

So, I think the answer to the question of what he wants to do is that he wants to, as the young-uns would say, "Do ALL the things." 

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This child sounds like he has ADHD but it has been hidden by his intelligence.  Don't worry, DH and I were both like that, and to some extent so was my dad. DH was helped by a job (that I would consider abusive) where they yelled at him all the time.  My dad was helped by military boot camp.  Neither sound like a good option for your son.

 

He needs to be evaluated by whoever your community college recommends.  He probably needs medicine and cognitive behavioral therapy to help him develop a structure to accomplish his goals. He may decide not to medicate - the medicines will dampen his creativity but enhance his focus and ability to get things done.

 

I actually really don't think that's the case. He is perfectly capable of focusing and managing when he deems it important to do so. For example, he has exactly zero issues with inattentiveness or missing deadlines or anything similar when he's at work. Ever since he was little, he's been capable of spending hours at theatre and dance rehearsals and behaving (much better than his peers) backstage. He plans, designs and executes zillions of projects of his choice, with admirable attention to detail. 

 

The difference is that he likes doing those things. He just isn't interested in managing paperwork for school.

Edited by Jenny in Florida
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He is perfectly capable of focusing and managing when he deems it important to do so.

He plans, designs and executes zillions of projects of his choice, with admirable attention to detail. 

 

The difference is that he likes doing those things. He just isn't interested in managing paperwork for school.

 

In that case, it's not about executive functioning ability, but about choosing not to do things he does not want to. Which greatly reduces my level of compassion. Lacking ability is one thing, not being interested another.

 

If, as you say, finishing a degree is what he wants to do, I would march him to the college office (any college at this point) and make him enroll so he can finish the damned degree in the next semester. Having spent four years at college and being this close, I would not give him the option not to do it, since presumably you paid the tuition all this time. The least he can do is not waste your money and finish the Associates he could have finished years ago. If he is "not interested", he can start reimbursing you the wasted tuition.

After that, I'd wash my hands, let him move out, and get a job. 

 

Sorry if this sounds harsh, but I think you enabled him long enough.

Edited by regentrude
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He sounds like my son. I would invest the $$ and have a neuropsychiatrist administer testing for executive function and adhd. Once you know where We just did this for our 19 year old so he can get the services he needs at college.

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Here's the thing: He's extremely bright and very competent and is likely to do pretty well even in a crappy job. My concern all along has been that, once he starts working and begins to think he can at least scrape by, he will lose whatever motivation remains to finish a degree.

 

And that would be fine, for now. However, I have every reason to believe, based on multiple exemplars on both sides of our family, that he will regret that decision later. And I know all too well how difficult it is to get back in school "later."

 

Then you make sure he gets enrolled in those 3 last classes for his Associate's and whatever other hoops needed to be jumped through for graduation. Whether he transfers to a bachelor's program IMHO is on him. But since he's so close to finishing the Associate's, you help him get over that finish line.

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Regenetude, this sounds so harsh.  He went away to college AT  16 !!!!!!  And he did well.  Most 16yo could not do that.  For him not to be able to focus is not an unforgivable sin.  He spent 2 years away between the ages of 16 and 18 and one year at home.  19 is still rather young.    Plus, dance and theater are all rather different than the traditional route.  It sounds like he has been exploring those gifts.  I think you are way, way too harsh. 

 

His mother said he has the ability and is simply "not interested" in following through. I am suggesting she force him to finish the measly three classes he is lacking so that he has the piece of paper, and then let him be. I don't see why that is so harsh. He's capable and just needs a kick in the butt to get his act together. 

 

ETA: It might be different for a family that is independently wealthy where a few more years of tuition without tangible results don't matter. The OP is not that in that category.

Edited by regentrude
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In that case, it's not about executive functioning ability, but about choosing not to do things he does not want to. Which greatly reduces my level of compassion. Lacking ability is one thing, not being interested another.

 

If, as you say, finishing a degree is what he wants to do, I would march him to the college office (any college at this point) and make him enroll so he can finish the damned degree in the next semester. Having spent four years at college and being this close, I would not give him the option not to do it, since presumably you paid the tuition all this time. The least he can do is not waste your money and finish the Associates he could have finished years ago. If he is "not interested", he can start reimbursing you the wasted tuition.

After that, I'd wash my hands, make him move out, and get a job.

 

Sorry if this sounds harsh, but I think you enabled him long enough.

It absolutely is about executive function. Executive function deficits lead to bad decision making. When faced with a task that feels overwhelming it is easier to do nothing or something else. It very much looks like choosing not to do something when the reality is they are paralysed and need help finding that starting point. And through out the process. All the demands, yelling, tough love, compassion, or lack of compassion will not succeed. You don't get to decide when you have enabled enough. Executive function is for life and some people need help for a very long time, especially if they are not getting the coaching or other assistance they need.

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