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My son is 21. He is very bright and articulate, interested

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My son is 21.   He is very bright and articulate, interested in literature, history and political studies in particular. He is a joy to be with because he is so articulate and funny.     After he did his A levels in UK he entered University College London to study Chemistry but he never took his exams---which we did not find out until later.    The next year he entered SOAS and studied Archaeology and Arabic---but he dropped the Arabic within weeks; he did go to classes, but took no exams.    He got lectures from me and his Dad but that didn't seem to matter. His Dad died of cancer that year.   Then I found out that he did not take his exams that year either.   The next year (2007-8) he again enrolled in SAOS but also did not take his exams---I found out much later. (3 years in total) I am a US citizen and he is now at a US University and will not answer my emails; he has to get a job to establish residency to reduce tuition. He will not answer or explain. I pay all the bills.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  danny541 replied 5 years ago.
Hello and welcome to Just Answer!

Did he ever say why he never took the exams?

Could he be angry at you or his father for some reason?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

No, I have asked him repeatedly and he has said very calmly that he "just didn't do it." (You get free tuition at University here in the UK, plus grants to live on.) One of his infuriating characteristics is that he doesn't feel that he has to give a reason for his behavior, nor (certainly not) apologize; and he does not like to be "lectured"---and he calls "lecturing" any implied or overt criticism. He will simply not take much criticism. In almost all other ways, he is a lot of fun and easy to get along with---loves to cook for himself, me and others, for example.

 

He could be (subliminally) angry of course, but his Dad (who was English) was very mild mannered and I doubt if he ever raised his voice to him---though he did criticize when my son didn't take exams, for example and would try to reason with him, teach him decent behavior and how to handle money. (!) His Dad was also a very "moral" person, though not religious, but he also had a good sense of humor. My son seemed to handle his father's death well and helped me a lot (emotionally) at the time, but of course lots of things could be repressed. My son and I have, in general, an excellent relationship, but obviously something is not quite right. To his credit, my son has never yelled at me, AND he has been corrected when wrong, all during his life---but not to excess. He had a fairly free childhood (in Spain) but he is an only child if that is significant.

 

The problem now is that we came back to the US and he started at and has done well at the State University there for one term---started last January. I have had to pay full fees and he understood that he had to work during the summer so that he could present his W2 forms to prove residency in this state to cut his fees in half. His January-June fees, food, and lodging have cost me $20,000 and I am not rich. I have had to come back to the UK to sort out some things here and he (after the end of the Spring term---end of May) just disappeared off the radar and will not answer his phone or my emails. I have just sent one of his roommates some money for my son's share of the utilities; the roommate who is much older says he is OK, and out with friends, but not working. I am very worried, but also displeased about the apparent return of this "pattern." I also just paid off his overdraft here on his bank account here in London (about $2,000.) I did tell him that I was angry about having to pay the overdraft here, (and if I had not done so, the interest would have added up to a terrible amount which he could probably never pay off); again he was not apologetic, said something like "well, thanks," but not much more. My biggest worry is that he won't get in touch, and I like to be in touch. When I am in the same state (until a month ago) he used to call me 4 or 5 times a day to tell me what was going on in his classes, etc. He is quite garrulous---loves to talk in general---practically about everything, but not about his own problems, i.e., not taking his exams, or running out of money, etc. To his credit he usually cooks for himself and he is determined not to have a credit card, and to live within his means now; I hope he is not starving!

Expert:  danny541 replied 5 years ago.
It sounds like your son is going through something,maybe anger issues or depression.

At his age he doesn't have to talk to anyone even his mom unless he wants to.Before you get upset, lets look at all the other questions you raised, he did not take his exams before and was not sorry for it, he seems to not care that you are paying to keep him in an apartment or keep his overdraft fee paid up. He says thanks ,but no explanation why.He doesn't want a credit card, but he doesn't seem to mind you paying his bills.

Its time to cut the string. He needs to start going to school ,taking the exams and get a job.

You must not continue to pay his responsibilities and not even get at least a phone call or e-mail saying his appreciation or getting a job to help out.

Its sad to say,but we as parents don't live forever, you are enabling him to not take responsibility for his own actions.

Write him a letter, e-mail him, call, but let him know he is now responsible for everything, that unless he is willing to move back home and help himself, consider himself cut off.

He needs a shock to his system to wake up and realize he can not treat you this way and to start making a real effort to find a job, and get serious about school or you can no longer help him as you have in the past!

I welcome any other thoughts you have on this, if not..

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danny541, Parenting Answer Team
Category: Parenting
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Experience: Have 5 children !
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