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Dr. Shirley Schaye
Dr. Shirley Schaye, Doctor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1673
Experience:  PhD-Psych; Certif. Psychoanalyst NPAP& NYFS; Memb.APsaA;IPA; Pub.Author; Teach/Supervise Therapy
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My 21 year old is making slower than I believe progress in

Resolved Question:

My 21 year old is making slower than I believe progress in getting his life together. He has made baby steps but is constantly wanting to do the least amount of work possible to get a career/life going. We moved from another country 4 years ago when he was 17 and I think this really did a number on him. He refused to make friends in Senior Year and his social life is still lacking. He says he will make friends when he leaves this State.
He does have a wonderful volunteer job but nothing paid. He is in college part time and has been seeing a College Counsellor. He will be in school full time in the fall. We have paid for his schooling and he has had okay marks...just around average but nothing stellar. He is an easy-going guy with low self esteem.
The icing on the cake was this morning. When he left for his job, I went into his room to turn off a fan that was on. The room is a mess with items...soda cans, bottles of water and other food stuffs that we have said over and over again not to have in the room. Because we are trying to not lord over him, we have been giving him the benefit of the doubt that his room was clean.
What do we do to motivate this young man to get his act together other than the slow progress he's made? He doesn't go out as he doesn't have any "real" friends and spends a ton of time on the computer. I have just decided to take away his computer indefinitely. He can use mine to further his life and career goals. As well, I am issuing an Open Door Policy. I will go in at any time and if things aren't in proper order, I'll evict him and he can stay in the Guest Room. I believe I have been enabling him and would like to stop. Any advice would be appreciated!
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Dr. Shirley Schaye replied 2 years ago.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Thank you for contacting Just Answer. You are certainly not going to like what I have to say but I am not going to give you some bogus response or lie to you.I am obliged by my own ethical standards to tell you the truth. First let me tell you that I have 17 years of post graduate training in the mental health field post my bachelor of arts degree in psychology. I have extensive training in the field with children and adolescents. Your son is not behaving any differently than most kids his age, especially boys. Yes, he is about 21 but he is still in college. He is not going to get any great job until he finishes college at least. What's of greater importance now is his loneliness and lack of friends. I am so very glad to hear that he is in counselling so he can get help with not having friends.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Again, I know you don't like hearing what I have to say but trust me, I am not just a parent I have treated scores of young men and women his age. I have been in the mental health fields for over 40 years.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Oh hi

Customer:

Hi there

Customer:

So, how do we get him to connect locally? He is a person who had a hand full of great friends back in our other country. He is a one on one type of guy and doesn't need a party full of friends to make him happy. We attend a local church and he has been involved with volunteering too. How do we get him to get that job (one that is for the summer or part time??)

Customer:

Plus, he is gaming quite a bit.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

What I would do is when he is home say, son, come on, we can't leave this garbage around. I don't want roaches or mice. I'm going to help you but come on, you're not a baby. This is disgusting leaving all this garbage around. Let's do it together.

Customer:

He'll say he'll do it himself and leave the room. He can be quite stubborn

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Where do you live --- city and state?

Customer:

I mean, for me to leave the room.

Customer:

Phoenix, AZ

Customer:

moved from Canada 4 years ago

Customer:

And I believe it's healthy to take away the computer and let him use mine for job searches and such, no? We gave him his own computer.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

No, No, NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry, you haven't done it yourself. Yeaqh, I'd like you to do it yourselfr --- you're not a kid but you haven't been doing it yourself. Do you really think I would come in and help you with this if I saw that you were doing this yourself?

Customer:

Interesting. How about the Open Door policy? What if he does it again?

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

I don't know but you did it already so I would leave it and INSIST that you help with cleaning his room. Then I would say, now that it is clean, you can have your computer back. ALSO, I would say --- ok, now if you don't want me doing it with you then --- PLEASE --- throw out your garbage.

Customer:

no, I haven't done the Open Door thing yet. He is at his volunteer job right now.

Customer:

But taking the computer away is for the computer "in the room and shut the door from all possible contact" addict. I think that if spent less time on the computer, he'd be out and about, no?

Customer:

But his personality is that he finds he gets all the interaction with the public when he works at his volunteer job.

Customer:

So he doesn't care about one on one right now (so it seems).

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Apropos, the open door policy --- he's 21 ( I think)... I wouldn't have an open door policy. I hate to be concrete but hey he's of an age where you don't know what you are going to open the door to. So instead, maybe twi8ce per week when he comes home say that you would like to come in and be sure that he has picked up all his garbage.

Customer:

Yes, he's 21. So I have to police him on this?

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Let me just read what you wrote.

Customer:

sure

Customer:

there is more and I type fast...lots of questions, I know!

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Sorry, I have had surgery on my hand so don't type fast.

Customer:

no worries!

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

To go back to what we were talking about before ---I don't know Phoenix. But let me ask --- what did he do before you moved --- what were his interests?intere

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Thank you!

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

OOPS!!! there?

Customer:

He likes to write, loved to play soccer, sang in choirs and lots of chill time with friends in Youth Group at church.

Customer:

Oh by the way...he is not in counseling for lack of friends...it's a career counselor at college.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Is there a youth group at the church group that you go to know --- one with people his age?

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Can the pastor reach out to him to join?

Customer:

Yes, but he won't go. He younger brother is very much involved and has tried to convince him.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Is there a soccer team at his school?

Customer:

He brother is 20

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Why won't he go --- do you know?

Customer:

Hummm, not sure. I'd have to check that out. He hasn't played since around 13 and he is not in that kind of shape to do so.

Customer:

Because he is anxious.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Also, try to get his younger brother to help you.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Oh, I see. So forget about soccer.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

But maybe hisyounger brother can be of help to nyou.

Customer:

He is the middle child and is very typically sandwiched between two outgoing guys who's grades come somewhat easy for them. My son has struggled in school since 5th grade

Customer:

and is the shortest

Customer:

and has had acne where the others haven't

Customer:

and has lots of anxiety about his health even though he's healthy!

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

To tell you the truth --- punishing him is not going to get at the problems and will not help correct them. The counselor if he is well trained can.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Has he visited a dermatologist?

Customer:

But do we just let him have the computer and he just "locks himself" up in his room doing the bare minimal?

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

I think you aRE GETTING MY DRIFT. i'LL SPELL IT OUT.

Customer:

Yes, has been seen by many and it's under control now but he has some pock marks so he is consious of that

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

oops!!! Sorry about the cap lock. Too hard to type over.

Customer:

what drift?? Sorry, I am confused

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

If I were you I would sit down with him and tell him that you love him very much and you are very dconcerned about how he locks himself in his room --- doesn't get together with friends.

Customer:

the counselor is a career counselor. He has refused to see a regular counselor. To throw another thing in here, my husband admitted (finally) to be an alcoholic 18 months ago. Our son (and sons) saw a few ugly scenes...he's sensitive to many things

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

I meant instead of punishing spell out to him your concern.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Also the college counselor may not be good enough. I don't know.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

But s/he should be helping him with all this.

Customer:

I have. My son says he doesn't care that he doesn't have friends right now except for people he speaks with in college and at his volunteer job.

Customer:

My son really likes his counselor so it's been a God-send for sure in that manner.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

If you need another referral I would be glad to help you find someone else.

Customer:

for what? Career?

Customer:

My son has done the profiles, etc.

Customer:

for jobs

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

No, I meant counselor but I see that he likes him so that's ok.

Customer:

My question is, do we give him back his computer just so that he does lots of computer gaming?? I think this is part of it..he lives in a bubble world. OH a good thing though, he REALLY loves football stats, etc. So we've encouraged him to follow the games, etc. He's gone to some and he said he'll apply to one time game events...maybe get something paid!!

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

I would then lay off a bit. Let him finish college. If when he gets close to that and doesn't have a direction for job or graduate school then I would worry about it. For now bothering him about it is only exacerbating things.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

I'd let him have his computer.

Customer:

okay. What about about filling up his time this summer? There's quite a few weeks now til college and his part time volunteer work doesn't fill up his day

Customer:

just let him stay on a computer?

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

You know, this makes me think of an adolescent patient I was treating. As he got older and his parents laid off he found himself. He's now a successful lawyer.

Customer:

In the meantime, 10 hours a week volunteering doesn't seem like a good idea...letting him find himself in his bedroom??

Customer:

What about some more guidelines??

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

If he has a lot of time on his hands ask him to look for a part time job for the summer to help pay for things --- save up some money.

Customer:

We have and he applies but never gets anything...hence, the volunteer work

Customer:

I think he half heartedly applies...he has it pretty good so he really doesn't need money for himself. he isn't a spender so he has saved up over the years

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Well, he may like his counselor but we have to see what he is doing for him.

Customer:

He had a job for a month last summer and they slowly phased him out of any schedules

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

If you talking to him doesn't help then he may need more se3rious therapy.

Customer:

But what about filling up his summer??

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

There is no magic.

Customer:

I see...

Customer:

Any other suggestions besides therapy?

Customer:

He won't go, we've tried.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

He needs to do it --- take the initiative or take more college courses or more volunteer work. You have to let him know that he cannot just sit at home and do nothing.

Customer:

That's what we've been doing. So what about the gaming stuff?

Customer:

Say...limit it until he has more stuff he is doing outside the home?

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

I would have him do it in his spare time and actively look for a job or take courses to complete his degree.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

He is 21 and so not a minor. What I am getting at is you need his permission to talk to the counselor.

Customer:

He does have the excuse that he's not getting any interviews. So he applies on line and then says he is done

Customer:

For sure and I haven't spoken to any counselor

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

He cannot say: I will do nothing, I won't go to therapy, I won't look for a job, I won't look for volunteer work and just stay in his room and do nothing. THEN ... I would give him a deadline about what he is doing with his life and tell him that you will need to think more seriously about how to handle this because you are NO LONGER going to enable him.

Customer:

So...what do you think you would do if this was your son?

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

What I just said.

Customer:

I have given deadlines and he has completed them at the bare min

Customer:

So what you are saying is pretty much what we've done. It really is a fight and at times I am tired.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

That is, he has to more actively look for a job --- any job.

Customer:

Okay...what kind of deadline...and then what if he doesn't get one. He still has the excuse that he applies (I know he does) and then doesn't get hired

Customer:

He also has not held down a paid job for more than a month

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Yes, and I feel for you. The problem, as I see it, is that he needs to be in proper therapy. His counseling is doing nothing for him.

Customer:

But like you said, he is 21 so I can't force him to go. I can only give guidelines in our home

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

I cannot say what it is, of course, because I have not had an in-person interview with him.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Yes.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

But you can say things are not going well and I would like to have a family session with you and your counselor. We cannot go on like this.

Customer:

Alright then, I guess I will press on with what we've been doing. He has been making baby steps...and I have been trying not to enable him. But it gets me crazy that he isn't jumping into life.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

We need you to give your counselor permission.

Customer:

It's not a regular counselor...it's a school/career counselor

Customer:

they talk about courses

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

If he says no

Customer:

not personal issues/family

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Oh, I see.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Well he needs therapy.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

I hate to say this but you have done your all and you hacve to tell him that he cannot live at home this way without getting help.

Customer:

Well then, I guess I'll leave it at that. If the answer is therapy, then I guess my husband and I, with our son of course, will explore that option. I do appreciate your feedback.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Maybe he will go if you both start with him so he doesn't right away have to go alone.

Customer:

I'll speak with my son about this if I see that he doesn't get motivated to get some extra work this summer. He has said he knows next week is not full of activities. PLUS he has said he's lazy.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

OK --- good entree.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Do let me know how it goes. I am here for you.

Customer:

Well, we have suggested the counseling before so it's not a new subject. But you know, I may have to bring it up again if he is still stuck!

Customer:

Sure, how do I keep your contact? I am new at this

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Yes, certainly!

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Keep me posted.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

If you have other questions, don't hesitate to ask. If I have answered your questions, please click on ACCEPT and leave feedback. Bonuses are always appreciated. You can always ask more questions even after you have clicked on Accept. Just put Dr. Shirley Schaye before your response and I will be the one to respond.

Customer:

Hummm, I don't see an accept button. I see a rating

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

So, as you see if you put Dr. Shirley Schaye it will come to me.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

I don't have your window so I don't know what it says.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Maybe once you rate it. Don't know.

Customer:

Hi

Customer:

My computer crashed

Customer:

sorry...

Customer:

I'll figure it out.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

No problem!

Customer:

Done. Thanks again and have a great weekend!

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

You. too, have a great weekend. Also, please know that I am here for you should you wish to chat again.

Customer:

I thought I'd let you know that my son, after he was "busted" for the room, took it upon himself to clean it. He said it was his responsibility. After a few hours of him cleaning, I checked it and also made mention that I will be checking 2x/week for a while to gain the trust back. He agreed. Last night, we also had a very good chat for about 90 minutes, casually, about life things, issues in the news and then it came naturally to discuss his "no social life", hobbies, etc. So I count it a blessing that we had the chat in a relaxed manner. We'll see where it goes from here.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Oh, that is wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So much better to go in that direction. I am so...ooo very happy to hear this. Thank you for keeping me posted.

Dr. Shirley Schaye, Doctor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1673
Experience: PhD-Psych; Certif. Psychoanalyst NPAP& NYFS; Memb.APsaA;IPA; Pub.Author; Teach/Supervise Therapy
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Dr. Shirley Schaye
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PhD-Psych; Certif. Psychoanalyst NPAP& NYFS; Memb.APsaA;IPA; Pub.Author; Teach/Supervise Therapy