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Anyone have a college-age kid vegging at home

Three*to*goThree*to*go Registered User Posts: 81 Junior Member
edited December 2004 in Parents Forum
Do any of you parents have one or more of the following:
A son or daughter-
who doesn't want to go to college directly after HS?
who doesn't want to attend college? (Not military/blue collar material either)
who attended college but dropped out for some reason?
who is ambivalent about going because they can't commit to or decide on a particular career line?
who points to numerous examples of college graduates with no jobs or in the food service industry/low wage jobs so what good is it?

Well, I do.
He didn't want to go to college right away and had an attitude about high school--didn't try very hard as a result. Roller coaster grades. Decided to try community college after almost a year off and basically didn't even go to classes--still rebellious. Glad it wasn't to a traditional college since $$$ would have gone down the drain.

Went to work doing this and that for no satisfaction, horrid hours, at the mercy of sadistic management. Meanwhile most people he pals with are college grads looking for work who have to settle for the same boat!

Thinks he would like to get involved with computer gaming industry. Thinks he would like to become a chef. Thinks about dipping his toe into the water of education again but deathly afraid to commit. Why he thinks that he can't just go for the experience and where it may lead him is beyond me--concern for expense or not sticking with his choice?

The kicker--he's 21 now and all he has to show is experience with living with bad choices and a diploma from the School of Hard Knocks.
Post edited by Three*to*go on

Replies to: Anyone have a college-age kid vegging at home

  • boysmomboysmom Registered User Posts: 159 Junior Member
    My husband and I were just discussing this. Not everyone is meant for college. But everyone is meant to support themselves. Let him know in no uncertain terms that he is free to do with his life what he wants, but his life is up to him.

    Our oldest really didn't want to go to college, but went because it was expected of him. Has been going steadily for 5 1/2 years now. Is not real close to graduating. Does it out of a sense that we want him to and a fear that he'll disappoint us and not be able to support himself. Half of me just wants him to go until he gets that diploma. The other parts thinks maybe if he just supported himself for a while, he'd mature and be more likely to understand why it's important. He lives at home, but works and pays his own tuition and supports himself (in our house.) Mine's 23.

    We have made the decision that as long as he's drug free, and works at something, we'd support whatever decisions he chooses (like we have a say anyway) and not make it harder on him. Having two brothers at Umich already shows him the path he could have chosen. He doesn't need any more pressure.
  • dkedke Registered User Posts: 2,689 Senior Member
    Sometimes I listen to Dr. Joy Brown, a psychologist on talkradio, and she gets this question quite a bit....she always says that whatever they do, if they live at home they absolutely should be expected to pay a fair market amount of rent to their parents.....she's a real stickler for that...
  • jamimomjamimom Registered User Posts: 3,278 Senior Member
    Three*to*go, I have been this route, have seen kids who went down this path and know kids in that situation. My nephew was that way. He burned out several community colleges, worked menial jobs, hung around a variety of people, and was a huge pain in the neck. After two years of this nonsense, we looked at some non selective residential colleges within a couple of hours of our home. Just looked, but he seemed interested. I think he really felt lost, did not fit with many of the kids who did not go on to college, felt left out from those who did. We applied to Rider, Fairleigh Dickenson and Widener. He was accepted to all three and went there where he finally found some structure and he was finally mature enough to deal with it. He did fantastically well, found a mentor and, well, now he is a doctor. But regardless of how he ended up careerwise, I truly think he was just a few years behind everyone else in terms of maturity and in figuring out what to do. He needed that breathing room and time. I have seen other kids that are in the same boat. I don't think commuting works well with these kids. They need a fresh new environment and a new slate. I also think going directly away to school would not have done the trick. They need to see what life is like when you do not go away.

    Obviously, different solutions for different problems. But it may be worth a try.
  • cangelcangel Registered User Posts: 4,127 Senior Member
    You know, reading this and thinking of my young son, it's sad. I'm a believer in tough love with the rent paying and etc, but this is another bit of fallout of modern life. Back in the "good old days", an adult son might be a welcome hand contributing on the farm or ranch, or working in the mill. There was no question of rent, his wages went to help support the extended family. We say they "matured earlier" back then, when really adult life required active manual labor, things boys excel doing. Nowadays "maturity" requires sitting, listening, organization skills, things boys don't always do well even into their late teens. And we worry that they are compromising their future by missing their chance. Jamimom speaks words of wisdom.
  • pamvanwpamvanw Registered User Posts: 112 Junior Member
    Our middle son went to college for 2 years, got OK grades but hated every minute of it. One day he called & said "Mom I joined the Marines." He is now almost done his training to fix the electronic components of aircraft, & has never been this happy or well adjusted. He says he has finally found something he likes & it has a purpose. He singed up for the GI Bill, so someday he expects to return to school. But for now he's happy & productive....finally.
  • lefthandofdoglefthandofdog Registered User Posts: 1,431 Senior Member
    This is all so true. I was just wishing today that I could put my college soph. son's brain under a gro-light. I wonder which came first - do some boys (excuse the gross generalizations) not learn the organization skills because it doesn't come naturally to them (like it might for girls) and most of us don't live lives that would allow the skills to develop over time (instead of having responsibility for feeding, cleaning up after and milking a herd of cows every day of your life, we can jump from tv to music to laptop to video game, as long as the power doesn't go out). I once read that the reason we have an obesity epidemic in this country (really, in the industrialized world) is because we have bodies that evolved for life as hunter-gatherers. A constant food source is NOT our friend. Why should the brain be any different? We all seem to know this intuitively. What do we do about it?
  • tokenadulttokenadult Registered User Posts: 17,471




    before recommending that a young person go into the video game industry.
  • jamimomjamimom Registered User Posts: 3,278 Senior Member
    My close friend and former college roommate is a child psychiatrist with a Harvard degree. She always told me that the average boy (no, not the 1600, 4.0 ones you read about on this board) is about three years behind emotionally and maturity wise. We just can't hold them back that long. And some of them do not want to grow up. My son who is a college graduate has behaviorally regressed so much this year, and I think part of this is because he knows his days are numbered (actually gone but he is behind in all of this type of thinking) where we are going to take care of him. He was miserable when we saw him for Thanksgiving, and we got into several pitched battles. You would have thought he was retarded the way he acted. He did not shave or shower the 5 days he was with us. Did not bring toiletries or change of clothes or money. Was terribly selfish. Was too tired to eat and slept while we ate,then wanted food when all was cleared and cleaned. Got the little ones all excited about taking them swimming, all set to go and then asks for money to buy him a swim suit because he does not have one--swim suits this time of the year in NYC where we were staying for Thanksgiving with my brother are expensive. My brothers wanted to punch him out and H was gritting his teeth as well. And he is at least self supporting, but I really don't think he likes it.

    I think you have done well letting him vegatate and grow up for a few years. Now let's give him a fresh start, and when you drop him off on campus, start making moves so that he knows he really can't move back home. I made the mistake (well, not really, I sort of had to) of letting my son move home after he graduated. He had been a horror every year he stayed with us during the summers he was in college, and I highly recommend subsidizing such a child in digs near the college and letting him make a life for himself there, which we did not do as we wanted to support the fact that he was making money for college by saving up on living expenses. I believe we ended up paying more in the end, and certainly a lot more if you count emotional stress. My S got so comfortable, he blew off the job offer he got in Ohio and just did not leave. He would probably still be here except he got an enticing offer from friends to go to the Olympics in Athens where he got into some trouble that H had to get him out of, and when he got back, H kicked him out. Very distressing to all of us. My stomache twisted 50 times over and I was in a depressed funk. Well, he found another job and is now fine. All seemed well till he saw us again during Thanksgiving. My psychologist friend says this may be his last hurrah as the rapscallion child, the rascal, the troublemaker, a role he savored. And we enabled this role for years, but it is now over. It is not easy. Labor pains are the easy part of having children.
  • NJresNJres Registered User Posts: 5,900 Senior Member
    wow............ The main reason the W and I are trying so hard to get #1S into a nice little LAC is to get him out of the house!
  • fendergirlfendergirl Registered User Posts: 4,694 Senior Member
    not all of the video game industry is like that.. i am considered to be "in the industry".. and I don't work like that :)
  • bookiemombookiemom Registered User Posts: 1,914 Senior Member
    We went through the college-age-vegging-son rountine with one of my stepsons. He went to community college on and off for two years at two different colleges and actually flunked out of community college. He dropped classes without telling us, flunked classes, blew off classes, went through several jobs, and abused prescription drugs and caffeine (lattes with 10 shots). He made our life hell and all the while we were paying for everything. Finally he got a job at UPS at night and moved into his own apartment. Then he went into the navy.

    The navy has been great for him and also for my other stepson, who went in right after high school. (Two weeks after Sept. 11--that was nervewracking.) They are both in intelligence work with computers, with the highest level of security clearance. They have both been to many other countries. One is now in Japan and is engaged to a lovely Japanese young woman and the other is now stationed in the Persian Gulf and is married. They have both been promoted and are both on their way to becoming mature family men. They are now 22 and 23.

    Both of these guys were GOOF-OFFS or worse in high school. The navy has done wonders for both of them.
  • ckr1147ckr1147 Registered User Posts: 175 Junior Member
    Bookiemom...that is wonderful about your stepsons! Give all of us with latebloomers (at least we HOPE that's what they are!) hope! We are a bit nervous about S - hoping that going away to college will work out for him...only time will tell I guess...
  • boysmomboysmom Registered User Posts: 159 Junior Member
    dke: anybody who has a hard and fast rule for kids in a "one size fits all" mentality has never had kids. If we made our son pay rent, he'd just move in with some girl. There's no shortage of offers! As long as he is working, productive, friendly, and helps around the house I see no reason to make him pay rent. What purpose would that serve except to make us feel as if we were doing the "responsible" thing?

    Right now he's free to make the choices that fit him best and put money aside so that when he does eventually move out, he can put some money down on a house. We are not hard up enough that we need him to pay rent and enjoy having him around.

    If he refused to work, sat around all day playing video games, refused to do anything around the house or was hard to live with that would be different. I lived at home until the day I got married. There was never any question of moving out. I will never understand the mentality that says kids are no longer welcome members of the family.
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 18,666 Senior Member
    Three*to*go -- yes, son the same age as yours, but a happier ending (or at least a happier beginning).

    Son went to a pricey LAC for 2 years, lacked focus, uneven performance at school - decided to take a year off to find himself. Spent two solid months sleeping until 4 pm on my living room couch while I ranted and nagged. Finally slunk off to apply for the job I had suggested the first week he came home (me: "they're always hiring" him: "I'm not interested in that sort of stuff") ... and it turned out that the job was his niche -- he was promoted up the ranks with his first 2 weeks, decided the following spring to accept a year-long contract with them rather than return to school .. and basically he has found himself, and is entirely self supporting - has an interesting job, travels all over, health insurance, paid vacations, etc. He DOES want to return to college and is exploring various options, but he is 100% better off for the time off -- he is simply a different person, far more focused, self-confident, and goal oriented. So in hindsight I am very glad he quit college - and glad to now be the parent of a young, motivated adult rather than an overgrown, apathetic teenager.

    I have one piece of advice: if your son is still living at home, set some limits about how much longer he can live there, whether he has to pay rent, and what, if any, financial support you will give in the future. I didn't think my son was listening when I did this - so I put it all in writing, down to the exact dollar amount I would put in for future education, and an expiration date. Sounds callous, but I was thinking about the costs for college for his younger sister, and so I basically told my son that I could only hold "open" my offer to fund college for him for one year longer. Basically "vegging" was not a long-term option, unless he wanted to veg out at a homeless shelter downtown -- in June, I gave him a Sept. 1 deadline to either return to school, have a full time job, or move out. He slept all of June and most of July, but was working in August and moved out of my house in November.

    Once I gave him the written ultimatum, I shut up and butted out. (OK, I made quite a few sarcastic comments while he slept away his afternoons, and I admit to encouraging the dog to jump on top of his prone body and bark a lot .... but basically I quit trying to direct his life).

    I do think now that my son was right to quit school, and that his post-college employment situation will be much better because of the work experience he is gaining right now. He works for the kind of organization that will always be a good fallback for employment -- if he takes off a few years to attend college, he will easily be able to get his job back, especially because he accepted their offer of the one-year contract and the promotion it entailed -- but of course he will have additional options and opportunities after college. But the bottom line is that when he goes back to school, he will have a better idea of what he wants to do. If he had stayed in college, then he be a senior, graduating this spring -- but it would be likely that he would have had a B.A. degree in liberal arts and probably no idea of what he wanted to do with it and no real prospects for employment.

    So, bottom line, have patience - your son will probably grow up and find his niche in life -- but don't indulge. Don't worry about the pipedreams he talks about .. my son talked of going to Tibet, but as noted ended up applying for the local job that was there all along -- so I would take the gaming industry talk with a grain of salt. But do nudge your kid out the door. Life may become a lot more clear when "vegging" at his parents' house is no longer an option.
  • dkedke Registered User Posts: 2,689 Senior Member
    BoysMom......"different strokes".....It was a tacit understanding during my growing up years that college would be paid for but that was it.....at 21 the summer after my senior year I was expected to be out, on my own and independent... and I was....I expect the same of my two.
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