college students at home

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-19-2013
college students at home
11
Thu, 12-19-2013 - 1:20pm

i just found your chat room and need advice from seasoned parents

i have 3 sons (through the foster care system, they have lived with us for 5 years) they are 20 (we have adopted), 17 and 15 years

my oldest son is living at home (taking a break from school), he no longer feels it necessary to follow our house rules (curfew, chores, etc).  his brothers are now starting to follow his lead.  he doesn't have any money because he spends it before he earns it (he is now learning a hard lesson that he didn't learn the first two times we tried to teach fiscal responsibility).  all of my friends say we need to kick him out due to his disruptive and disrespectful behavior.  he doens't have any friends he can mooch off of because they all live at home.  what should we do... kick him out or something else, although I don't know what else to do at this point.  thanks for your advice.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2009
Sat, 12-21-2013 - 11:19pm

On the evening news was the death of seventeen year old Clair Davis, who was shot gunned several days ago at her high school in Centennial Colorado by a deranged young man out to kill a school librarian. Her family was at her bedside, which may mean that she was brain dead and they disconnected her from the machines. No happy holidays for that family or the shooters family. That gives us all pause to be grateful for all the craziness of our kids. These are just two of many grieving families that would love to have our problems.

Something that you have going for you in this is that your son is NOT on drugs. BE GRATEFUL! I have coworkers and cousins with kids on meth, etcetera. NOT GOOD!

My mother gave me two pieces of advice when I married and I passed those along to our daughters when they married. First, take care of your hubby’s romantic needs. Kimmy, you fill in the blanks on this one. Second, NEVER let the kids find any daylight between you and their father. My point is that mom and dad have to have a solid front on these issues with your son(s). Take time to discuss them with each other, find agreement, and then proceed. Do it over a meal with the kids at home with Pizza. And it may take several days to reach agreement. Hubby has been correct many many many times, when I was wrong.

Kids have a way of buffaloing or bamboozling the old folks; now is a good time to stop that.

THE BASEBALL BAT TREATMENT

Sometimes, parents have to use the baseball bat (metaphorically speaking) for the good of the kid that they love dearly.

(Another one of those nonsensical statements (like “Nobody ever said being a parent was easy and nobody was certainly correct.”) is: “You never get even with your parents.” I have no clue as to what that means exactly. It could be meant as good or bad. When I think back on what my parents had to put with me, I am truly surprised that they did not (literally) use a wood baseball bat on me. It would have been justifiable homicide. NO JOKE HERE!)

Youngest SIL, Butch, has a brother ten years older and a sister six years older. Yes he was a surprise blessing, like about ¾ of the population. A few years ago the older brother got a second DUI arrest. (The first was like .1, with the second arrest at .09.) The second arrest happened on a Friday or Saturday night and Butch’s dad left sonny in county jail until Monday or Tuesday when he sent a lawyer who specializes in those situations to get him released and back home with his wife and baby. The Judge allowed him to remain on bail, if he would surrendered his driver’s license and agreed NOT TO DRIVE, get counseling, and regularly attend AA meetings.

Several months later when he entered a plea bargain, the judge probated his sentence, took his license away for a total of two years, continued counseling, and continued AA attendance during those two years, and said, “You’re truly lucky that you did not kill your wife, baby, and other innocent people. One of many painful things a judge has to do from time to time is sentence a young man with a family, like you, to 6 or 10 years in prison for vehicular manslaughter. I think you can comply with these terms and you’ll never be back in the court. Please do not disappoint me! Counselor, I will leave it to you to explain to your client what happens when a judge is disappointed. Can you do that, Counselor? Yes Sir. Good. Have a wonderful life young man and be grateful that I did not have to sentence you to a year or two in prison or six or ten years.” Afterwards the lawyer explained that a disappointed judge will send you to prison for that two year probated sentence plus whatever the third offence merits. Don’t even think about disappointing the judge!!!! UNDERSTAND???

Another part of this is that big brother and his wife had been riding high on credit and a slowing economy, drop in the value of their home, and one of those screwball mortgages with escalating payments, had left them with no choice, but to file bankruptcy and move back in with Butch’s parents. Butch’s parents did nothing to soften the hard landing of a second drunk driving arrest or bankruptcy. They did NOTpay the fine, bail, legal fees, etcetera, but they did provide a place to retreat to. And they did not offer their home until it all collapsed around older brother. (They have a large home and like you and me, love their kids.)

My point here is that sometimes parents have to be cruel before they can be kind.

START NOW WITH THE DEPRIVATION OF PRIVILEGES

When our girls were in elementary school, we would all go to the $2 budget theater with a coke and candy in our pockets. The movies had already been through the major theaters, but the kids enjoyed them just as much a little later. When school was out we would do it several times a week. We discovered that skipping that privilege was a very effective punishment--much more painful and effective than a spanking for the girls, but much less painful for mom and dad.

Start NOW with the depravation of privileges so that he will believe the old man and old lady are serious with the six month deadline for shaping up. The deadline is like a baseball bat.

I would suggest having a discussion with him before the end of the year about what happens on July 1, 2014, if his behavior does not change. IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT HIS BEHAVIOR, NOT HIM!

And I would explain that before February 1st (or 15th or whatever) we need payment in cash for your share of the cell phone contract or we’re discontinuing your phone service from our contract. (If doing that cost me $20 a month more, I would do that because it signals that you are serious. Better to waste a little money, than waste the kid.)

(Likewise with the phones of the two younger brothers, if they are not doing chores and keeping curfew hours, not being good citizens of the household, discontinue their cell phone service. For some teens that is worse than a beating or the death penalty.)

(Another privilege is to take the computer modem off to work with you. Take it to your bedroom at night, for sure as they have no need of computer after lights out.. Perhaps, buy a backup modem that only you and hubby have the access codes to.)

Furthermore son, before February 1st (or 15th or whatever) we need payment in cash for your monthly car insurance, or we will cancel the policy on your car (the car that is titled in his name). Purchase and put Clubs on the steering wheels of the other vehicles and keep the keys to those Clubs in your pockets. You have no control over what he does with the vehicle in his name as under the law he is an adult, so don’t worry about it. I’m nearly positive that you have no liability for the car of an adult child living in your home, unless you are on title or driving it, but do run that issue past your insurance agent. (And yes, if he has to buy insurance, it will cost him more than it would on your family policy, but that was his choice, not yours.)

The more of these things you do, you increase the chances that he will believe you about the July 1st deadline. And the more he believes that you are serious, the more likely he will change. And that change of behavior is all that you want. You may never pull that deadline trigger, but the more he believes you might, the better. And he may even test you right up until shortly before the deadline to see if you are bluffing and will blink. DON’T BLINK!

Along the way, have monthly check-up discussions with him on his progress, like son you’ve made a good start, but we need for you to address this . . . and this . . . and this . . . and . . . .

Obviously, if he is returning to school this spring, making strides towards making progress, work with him.

A Bizarre approach might be to describe Krazy Kimmy’s thoughts on the deadline for change and ask what he thinks about that. That could be a very interesting conversation.

Kids may seem tough, but most are as fragile as an egg. And often times they are just children in beg bodies. Their brains are not fully developed until the mid-twenties.

Be gentle, as you want to break the bad habits, not the kid’s spirit.

Be flexible and work with the kids, but don’t get steamrolled either. Fine line to walk.

And if you feel that you should not pull the trigger, DON’T. But, don’t let him know until you have to abort the trigger pull.

In any event, enjoy the holidays and keep in mind how blessed we all are with these minor problems compared to the problems of the two family’s discussed above in the first paragraph.

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