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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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SON JUST DROPPED OUT OF COLLEGE-SENIOR YEAR, SAYS HE WAS UNDER

Resolved Question:

SON JUST DROPPED OUT OF COLLEGE-SENIOR YEAR, SAYS HE WAS UNDER TOO MUCH STRESS AND WILL GO BACK IN A FEW YEARS. MY AND I ARE DEVASTATED. WE KNOW HE HAS BEEN ENJOYING THE COLLEGE LIFE STYLE TOO MUCH(DRINKING/SMOKING POT). HE ALWAYS WANTED TO BECOME A TEACHER-WITHOUT DEGREE NO JOB. WE ARE AT A LOSS ABOUT WHAT TO DO
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 2 years ago.
Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue.

I assume your son is 22ish and living at home with you? Any indications of daily use of pot or other drugs at this time? Is he working full or part time now?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I know he is smoking pot-he has a full time job that he would work during breaks in the school year
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 2 years ago.
Your last post suggested that he is living at home and I'm going to assume he was attending college at a local school as well. If so, then I would sit down with him and explain that if he isn't going to school, you have to insist that he work full time and begin paying at least rent---equivalent to an apartment in costs cost, and an equal proportion of the food budget. "As an adult, we need to insist that you contribute to the family budget as the other adults in the family are doing; so we need to insist that you work full time as [your father, I do, etc.] as we have to work to maintain the home"

I'm assuming he has his own car and pays his own insurance. Further explain that if he returns to school and is studying, you will drop the requirement to pay rent, because of course, he can't work full time and go to school If he complains, be firm and tell him that what you are asking of him is completely fair because he is a full legal, wage-earning adult as you are and your family life must be redefined now, as an 'equal partnership' in terms of household responsibilities. Therefore, you aren't asking him to do anything a close friend or room mate wouldn't insist he do if he wanted to live with them. 'You are a grown man now and we want to do all we can to respect you as such and hold adult expectations of you".

If he still complains, tell him that you are quite committed to showing full respect and confidence in him as an adult but if he doesn't want you to hold these adult expectations of him, he really should find a friend who will allow him to move in and pay no rent or utilities or grocery bills. Explain that he may also want to go back to school and finish up, since he only has a few more months of courses and studies left and he can graduate, get a job with his degree and become fully independent. If he complains further, tell him that his complaining is a 'real surprise to us; we thought you'd respond as a [21, 22 etc.] year old man would respond, but, your balking and resisting suggests something a man much younger than you is talking to us right now".

Now the above will almost certainly help him see that he needs to go back to school; it is mostly designed to create a crisis situation between you and your son---which at this point is probably what you need to negotiate and come up with a better situation than you have right now. People won't move or change their behavior sometimes, if they are comfortable. I'm going to pause here and solicit your reaction to this post so far.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

the problem is he wants to help me pay the loans I took out for his education...

here was my idea

1. go back to school starting with summer classes and continuing into the fall, we will pay for the education along with other bills

2. If you have know desire to return to school then we feel it's time for you to move on-will give you a few months to find a place of your own and wish you the best of luck

It will kill us to do this but I at my witts end-my wife is so upset I just don't know what is the right thing to do-Pete

Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 2 years ago.
I think your plan is a reasonable. Your son is a little immature and still needs to grow up. I am concerned that his substance abuse problem might be more of an element in this than you may realize, but this is a speculation of course. The key is to provide a more attractive incentive or inducement to go back to school. Summer is soon enough at this point---just 5 or 6 months away and summer sessions are less demanding than fall/spring semesters. I would put more structure and expectations into the scenario for the next six months e.g., full time job to save for school, chores around the house, but perhaps no rent or grocery money. You can explain that you realize he is saving money to go back to school and hence, no rent/grocery money is expected.

If your wife has difficulties with plans such as these, she is welcome to write back to me and we can discuss it. Let me know if I can be of further help. Please click on the green Accept button at the bottom of the screen. Thanks.
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience: Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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