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Need Advice

Posted by caphillsm (My Page) on
Mon, Feb 13, 12 at 11:33

DH and I have been married 5 years. Two SSs were 13 and 15 when we married. Younger one about to graduate and has a plan for future and is excited about it and doing great. Problem is younger one, nearly 20, who I will refer to as SS1.

SS1 has no friends, and spends most of his time sleeping, eating and gaming. He failed out of college first year. Never left the dorm room and got multiple F's. Admits to "gaming" most of the time while there. He has spent every summer with us (different city than BM) and every summer I have gotten him a good job. He just goes and does it when he arrives, but I do all the work to secure it. This includes last summer, after dropping out of school. DH asked him to write down his priorities for his life and his response was "To Chill". He doesnt do drugs, no interest in girls, and has begun gaining weight. He used to look like an athlete and I was shocked last time I saw him.

DH gave him three options: 1) go back to school and get good grades as part of a degree program, or 2) enlist in the military, or 3) get a job. None have happened, however he is taking a couple classes at a local community college, philosophy and something else.

He is living with BM who threatened to kick him out if he didnt find at least a PT job by January 1, then renegged ("too cold") When he asked DH for tuition $ DH said no because "he has not outlined a viable plan for himself" DH will certainly invest in a plan, even if that means helping him get a car because he has a job.

DH announced to BM and me a few months ago that we "shouldnt enable SS1 anymore. He's going to have to feel the pinch to understand that life involves planning and working hard" As he cannot find a PT job, BM gives him a "chore list" every day which he does.

Summer is a little more than three months away and I am starting to panic. What if I am expected to get SS1 a job again? How will THAT help him? It's still enabling, in my opinion. Which means he moves in, eats our food, watches our TV and lies around when not at work. To be honest, the stress I feel from it is awesome. I feel "disdain" for his laziness. If he could show interest in anything I could work with that.

So, I decided to mention to DH that it might be better for me not to hook him up with a summer gig again and we should let him do it on his own. DH didnt take it the right way. He is saying I "hate his son and just don't want him around". I explained its part of not enabling and he just got angrier and isnt talking to me now.

You are all likely thinking that I shouldnt have said anything, but I am already dreading the summer.

Did I do the right thing, and what now?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Need Advice

It's husband who gave his son the three options, so why blame you?

Punishing you with the 'silent treatment' is doing nothing towards HIM getting his son up and out into the world. Are you going to be expected to get SS a 'summer job' every summer for the rest of his life?

It appears husband is stuck between knowing what his son needs to do (grow-up and take take some responsibilities for SS's own future) and 'I don't really believe deep down that the son can do it'. You're just the easy target to focus on instead of facing reality, which is frightening for husband to face. His son if failing 'adulthood' and Dad does not know how to 'fix it'.

The son is at an age currently that has the highest unemployment in the country. Without some additonal education or specialty training this son is not going to find a decent job all on his own...his father knows that.

Military might actually be good for this son. No one will baby him nor enable him there. No playing games, lazing around letting other's do for him. He'd have to sink or swim.

Tell husband that he can be as angry with you as he pleases (rolls eye as to how that solves or helps his son adjust to adulthood), but what does it really accomplish? How does it help his son? Even if you get the son a summer position, how in the long run does that fit in with with 'what is son going to do with the rest of his life'?

RE: Need Advice

Thanks justmetoo. I think he is misplacing his anger on me. In fact, he's probably frightened by what he is seeing in his boy.

Here is what is really scary: He said to me "the boy is 17"! and I replied "no he isn't...he'll be 20 next month". He just looked shocked at me.


RE: Need Advice

The first thought that came to mind... depression. Either that or addiction.

Gaming can be addictive & it could be a combination of both.. being depressed and addicted. (Gaming could be used as an escape from the "reality" of today's world... high unemployment, high cost of living, political unrest) It's a lot for young people to deal with. When I was 18, I had an apartment that cost $250 a month & could work at a minimum wage job to support myself. Today, with a higher minimum wage (almost triple what I made at that age), the cost of living has increased even more. My son is looking at rents in the $1200 range for an apartment. Plus gas & food prices have skyrocketed. Kids today have it much harder when trying to move out on their own, even if parents help. Plus, they WANT things like computers & expensive phones or electronics... some call them necessities, in my opinion they are luxuries that we lived with before they existed..; but that is also an expense they will have when moving out.

But, I think the parents should focus on the possibility of him being depressed, therefore unmotivated. I would have to disagree with sending him to the military because while it's true, there are some expectations... I disagree that he won't be babied there. (at least in the Army) My son just finished his active term and he is still "lazy". It is no longer a "sink or swim" military. They place the lazy, unmotivated ones with duties that don't require much motivation. My son was (as "punishment") put on gate guard duty... forever. He has always had trouble waking up on time so that didn't change, so he accepted "gate duty". I'm not saying it doesn't work with some kids, but if the kid doesnt want to go along with the program, the military will not waste the time to focus on "those" kids.

More about SS1

SS1 has repeatedly told his father that "he hates the military". And he is saying that to a retired veteran. He also says "I never want to have to wear a tie to work".

I agree about the depression, have mentioned it and been told that I'm wrong. I even have speculated (to myself) that he is somewhere on the autism spectrum, as he does not demontrate any need for attachment to other people, interest in socializing, and I cannot name one thing he enjoys other than gaming. Yes, I do know that gaming is an addiction. I also hear you about how the "costs of living" are hard at this age and could be depressing. I would agree if he could actually tell you what something might cost. But he doesnt know any of that or have any interest in it. If you put him out of the house, I think he would just sit on a park bench with his x-box until the authorities picked him up. I'm not kidding.

RE: Need Advice

ps. Doesnt the weight gain also signal depression in an almost 20 year old young man? He only eats high fat food and drinks sugar laden soda, but STILL, it almost appears like he is trying to gain weight. He doesnt exercise at all either. It makes me wonder if its a real symptom of something bigger.

RE: Need Advice

Sure sounds like some type of personality disorder be it depression ,social phobia ect.That would explain the addiction he has to gaming its his social life.Might be a good idea to suggest to both bio parents to first look into getting him evaluated and then get him the help he needs... If it is indeed a mental problems threats and ultimatums won't help

RE: Need Advice

Until both sets of bio-parents get in agreement and tell this kid he has X months to either buy in to one of the acceptable plans or be literally thrown out on the streets and the locks changed, he has no reason to change his behavior and is headed towards a train-wreck of a future.

Stop enabling him. Tough love is what this kid needs. Start by disconnecting the internet and taking away the computer and / or game console....I bet that will get his attention.

RE: Need Advice

--" Doesnt the weight gain also signal depression in an almost 20 year old young man? He only eats high fat food and drinks sugar laden soda, but STILL, it almost appears like he is trying to gain weight. He doesnt exercise..."--

Well, anyone sitting on his buns stuffing his face with ill foods and slugging it down with high calorie sugary drinks is going to gain weight. He might have held that down a bit while participating in school sports, but it's a recipe for heart disease and diabetes. Speaking of which, when is the last time the son had an extensive physical?

That might be a good way to approach the summer thing. You are naturally worried about the 'lack of engery and motivation' the son has and suggesting to Dh that part of the son's issues may be coming from eating habits blah blah blah (gently lapsing into possible signs of depression and whatnot).

With all the gaming,is he gaming by himself or is his gaming actually his social network? Meaning is he living life through online games, facebook, ect. Asking because the answer to that question could be something to also take into consideration. Is he really addicted as in a gambling type addiction or is he hiding from real life (and the stress and struggles that real life brings with it).

I do think husband needs to explore and investigate the whys and hows his son is behaving the way son is. If there really is an underlying condition (depression, diabetes, some type of chemical imbalance ect)these things need addressed before the son can begin to perform as a functional adult.

Yeah, it's a sticky area for you to bring up, but don't let husband think of it as you not liking his son, or not wanting son there...turn it into more of a concern that something may be amiss and you'd like to see that the son get whatever help he needs. Threats and ultimations have not worked (nor motivated) son so far, maybe it's time to be sure there is not something physical/mental going on so that Dad knows what is really going on and how to deal with it (and if needed get the son the assistance son might really require).

RE: Need Advice

I used my EAP services at work last summer which entitled SS1 to ten free sessions with a therapist. He gladly went and never said a word about it except that "it was fine". Because of his age, we were not allowed to submit symptoms we were seeing. He told her all about his aspirations to become an engineer and that "all is fine" and "he likes college". She never heard the reality, which is that he failed school, doesnt have friends, and couldnt spell engineer to save his life. He has figured out how to say the right things to get people off his back. I know all this because during the last session he agreed to DH being conferenced in and he told me "he doesnt realize he isnt really in an engineering program". The only thing the counselor said to my husband in terms of an "evaluation" is that he has social phobia and should be tested for dislexia, which never happened.

BM did threated to change the locks and throw him out, and the day before it was supposed to happen, she realized he was doing nothing to plan anything else and changed her mind. As a result, his new task is to do her "chore list" every day and then have it inspected when she comes home each evening. He spends his day cleaning BMs bathroom, garage, whatever. She wont let him have dinner until its been inspected and approved. She said that doing this will force him to want a job out of the house. Guess what? It hasnt.

Yes, there is something wrong. Its physical or mental or both. I'm not positive. I have encouraged an evaluation before and DH thinks "I just dont like his son". My parents are advising me to just "stay out of it". According to them, I could have weighed in if he were 10, but its too late at 20. You cant force him to do anything at this age.

I am just dreading the thought of him living with us this summer. The good thing is that his "job" I get him requires he be there every single day from 3pm until 10pm, so, I dont see him. In fact, last summer I spent an ENTIRE MONTH without seeing him once. I am asleep when he gets home and gone when he gets up. But, it still bugs me that he is there, because it all appears so terribly not-addressed and I feel powerless to do much. It is truly like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

RE: Need Advice

"Because of his age, we were not allowed to submit symptoms we were seeing."

I don't think this is correct. I believe they can't tell you anything, but there's certainly no law that bars you from telling them what you observe, or even seeking their advice on how best to parent a young adult in that situation. When my stepson got into therapy (on our dime), we did ask the therapist to listen to our input and to give us her advice. She was able to do both of those things, though she was very clear that she could not reveal confidential information about our SS, and she didn't. Though she was able to tell us we weren't off base...

As to the rest of it -- I'm so sorry! It sounds like you are doing the right things, and even DH and BM are to some extent... But times are incredibly tough for unmotivated young men right now, and his depression is not as unreasonable as it once was... Wish I had the magic words.

RE: Need Advice

HIPPA laws do not allow a medical practitioner to even accept information about a client without their permission. Unless SS1 signed a document allowing it, I could not submit a list of symptoms to the doctor.

I agree that "times are tough" for young men now. However, I would agree its the "times" making it worse if in fact he were somehow connected to the "times". Meaning, if he were trying to get a job or a degree, or ANYTHING, and getting shot down, I could say it's "the time". But he isnt even in touch with the times enough to blame them. Unless you mean that its the age of video games and internet making it worse for him, that I can agree with.

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