A tough weekend for my oldest son

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-18-2003
A tough weekend for my oldest son
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Mon, 05-28-2007 - 8:41am

I just wanted to write a little bit, because the upcoming days are going to be a little tough for him. I wrote about finding the cigarette butts in this window sill. Then Saturday, I got work from the University that he is in all probably not going to be allowed back in school in the fall. Academically dismissed. When I first got work I was did my usual. Ran through all the emotions I was feeling. I settled on three, anger, disappointment and sadness.

My oldest, I have said all along, has some real issues, which I take responsibility for. But he is at the point where, he has to be responsible as well for his choices. I explained the situation to Bob, who agrees we support him.

I fought with his father when he was in second grade. His father wanted him to skip a grade, at the school's suggestion. I was against it, because I thought it would cause too much emotional problems. The first year he was fine (he was in a TAG school, so skipping a grade was 'special'). The secondyear, I witnessed his 9YO breakdown. He went to a psychiatrist, and I tried to get my ex to go, and I went. School has been rocky for Ian ever since. Moments of shear genius, and moments of pure failure.

That's the background. He has a good group of friends (all a year behind him). Normal, typical kids.

So my anger I had to breakdown into what the fears were, that were driving them. Fear of me being labelled a bad parent, especially by his father. Fear of him being labelled a failure. Fear of him ending up like I was when I was 19. The first fear I dismissed because it was a selfish, self serving fear. The second is Ian's choices, not mine.

The third was very real. I want Ian to be happy (which I was not). I have tried, since the divorce, to make him feel safe (which he still doesn't). So, when he came home yesterady for the cookout, we went upstairs and talked. He said he had wanted to put it off until after the cookout so as not to ruin it for me. I said I had to put it out on the table before the cookout so we could move on, and enjoy it. He said he felt better, and now maybe he would be able to sleep. We talked about his three options, and we will discuss it more when he gets home tomorrow. All in all, I spoke to him out of respect and empathy and he in turn spoke to me with the same.

Bob as well, suggested that maybe he needs a year off. Let his friends catch up, and then he goes back. Ian may do community college for a year, but for that I will have to speak with his father about financing it. Ian of course, knows that he will be responsible as well...

So there you have the life of me this weekend. It was a great cookout!

Pam

Pam

The choices we make in thought, word and deed inevitably return to us in kind.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-26-2004
Mon, 05-28-2007 - 9:18pm

Hi Pam,

I empathize with you,and would like to point out that if you all can Have the kind of discussion you did before the bbq, then you Are a good Mom! :)

People always think the 'hard part' is when they cry through the night at 9 months, or they won't eat their vegetables, at 8. In reality, when they get to the older 'adult-ish' part, and they have problems, it is Really the 'hard part' then, isn't it?

Keep on loving him. Do what is best for him, even if it is not the easist thing. I can tell you already have a good grip on Both of those parenting concepts!

Hugs to You!

very sincerely,
pepper

Pepperjack7

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-18-2003
Tue, 05-29-2007 - 9:08am

Thanks, Pepper. I spoke with Bob about my anxiety. I am worried that in the months ahead, as the dust settles, I will be pulled in different directions from him, my son and my ex. I am mostly talking things through with Bob though, and together we will support Ian, in his choices.

LOL!!! Yes, take me back to the time when I could make decisions for them. I no longer have that control. I have got to sit back, and let him make his own.

Talking him yesterday served two purposes. One was that hiding things just added to the problems, and two, he could feel safe coming to me, that I wasn't going to get angry or yell or scream or pile on guilt. That I would be compassionate, empathetic, and still give him respect, even though right now he doesn't have much self respect. Sigh! I'm afraid I had a hand in that.

We will all get through it, and learn something in the process.

Pam

Pam

The choices we make in thought, word and deed inevitably return to us in kind.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Tue, 05-29-2007 - 11:27am

I went to a party Fri. and met a woman from England. We were talking about kids going to college and she said that in England it's common for kids to take a year off between high school & college to figure out what they want to do and how here there is so much more pressure on kids.

I know that somehow it will work out for your son when he has his mother & stepfather behind him.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-04-2006
Tue, 05-29-2007 - 1:04pm

Hugs to you and Ian. That's rough. And I think you are a great mom, not because of what has happened to him, but how you are trying to change your reaction to things like this. Honestly, I know I should've taken a year off between high school and college. By the time I hit college I was burnt out. Big time. I think that's why it took me so long to get my degree. I was burnt out on school.

If Ian goes to the community college for a bit, I'd suggest he take classes that are aimed at majors that he'd be interested in. i.e. I thought I'd like geology so I took a geo class (I hated it, lol). But it was fun classes, not too stressful, etc.

Hope everything goes well. Keep us posted. And I love how you are talking to B about all this and it seems as though B is doing good as a sounding board and being supportive to you AND Ian. ;)





















 





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Avatar for memphisstars
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 06-01-2007 - 1:56am

Hi, Pamela. I always enjoy your wise postings, and I wanted to let you know my son is in the same situation right now as yours. He was academically dismissed from his university, too, after two years. But he has the option of taking classes at a community college, which he is currently doing, and being readmitted when he shows evidence of progress and a better GPA. He will be allowed to take summer classes at his old university and may be readmitted in the fall.

I had the choice of having another meltdown and getting totally upset with my son, as I have in the past. We worked SO HARD to get him where he was, in a good university, and he has had a habit of shooting himself in the foot more than once. He had a difficult childhood at times because of my divorce, but he has learned a lot of lessons along the way and is basically a very good kid, and very smart with tons of friends.

So, I chose this time to be sad and disappointed for a short time, but to continue communication with him focused on where he is and what he needs to do to continue with his college education, and he has responded beautifully. We have a good relationship and he always tells me the truth. I think things will work out for him, just not maybe in the way I envisioned. Each person finds their own way. I have to remember that this is his challenge, not mine. Good luck to you and your son! I have a feeling it will all work out.

It is harder these days to finish college in four years, and many students have slight deviations off course, change schools, take breaks, work, et cet.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-18-2003
Fri, 06-01-2007 - 1:55pm

{I think things will work out for him, just not maybe in the way I envisioned. Each person finds their own way. I have to remember that this is his challenge, not mine. Good luck to you and your son! I have a feeling it will all work out.}

Very wise words, and I believe the same will be true for Ian. Yup, I have embraced the sadness and fear, and now we are moving in a good direction. He has his application for community college and will start in the fall. Bob has supported the idea of him living with us, while he re-learns how to be a student. He has held the same job for two years now, and will continue to supplement himself with that.

The strangest part of it, is having him in the house. I got up the other night, and went downstairs when I couldn't fall right back to sleep, and he was listening to music on the computer (and who knows what else). I told him the next day how awkward that felt, because I am so use to not having anyone else up at that time of night. I guess I will get use to that as well, or maybe he won't be wondering around so much, if he knows he will run into me.

Pam

Pam

The choices we make in thought, word and deed inevitably return to us in kind.

Avatar for memphisstars
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 06-01-2007 - 11:13pm

Pam, yes, it's hard to parent a college student because they are certainly not children in so many ways, but they are not grown up either. They don't have a clear sense of the consequences their actions cause. And it's hard to watch someone you love make a mistake. But that is how they learn. Your son may be learning from your slight discomfort at having him at home that he would prefer to be on his own, too, and that may spur him to get back out on his own again as soon as he can.

It is very good that he still has his job. My son still has his on-campus job, even though he is not enrolled at his university presently. I think any connection he maintains to the school is good for him. And keeping the same job adds stability to your son's life and self-esteem for him.

My son has really enjoyed the community college and meeting different kids and teachers. I have to believe it has been another learning experience that is not all bad.

Another side benefit, although it may not seem like it now, is that his younger sibling(s) will probably learn from his mistakes. As you know, a family is quite a dynamic thing, an action by one part always affecting the other parts. Hang in there, Mom!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 06-05-2007 - 10:21am

{{{{{PAM}}}}} Oh, the joy of an Almost Independent Kid (AIK)! Go over and meet John (aka cl-electricbug)

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-18-2003
Tue, 06-05-2007 - 1:45pm

{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Chris}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

Thanks GF. I told Ian if he isn't enrolled by August, he needs to be working fulltime. It is a matter of health insurance. I just sent an email off to his father, telling him what Ian's goals for the summer are. I am doubtful he will get all three, but I am hopeful he will at least get one.

Pam

Pam

The choices we make in thought, word and deed inevitably return to us in kind.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-26-2005
Tue, 06-05-2007 - 4:18pm

Pam -
College is tough and a huge transition time.
You are not alone as many boys/men are leaving college at a rate far greater than women. The male reasoning part of the brain is not fully developed until age 24 (and we send our men off to war at 18, makes so much sense.) Girls are a full 4-6 years earlier.

People will transition careers 7-10 times in their lifetime now, they expect to double that with this current college generation. So what your son needs to learn is not the material itself, but HOW TO LEARN. He needs to concentrate on finding learning techniques that work for him as he will be asked to learn continuously throughout his life. Only those workers able to continuously adapt to change can and do survive.

Most likely he found easier methods to get through high school that no longer work in a college atmosphere. You can memorize and spit it back in high school, in fact they love that. But in college, you have to learn the material and how to apply it to different situations. You are being called on to seek new solutions and problem solve.

My advice is for him to work with some people who can teach him what his learning style is, so he can adapt that style to the material. Most colleges should be able to assist him in this endeavor.

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