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Very Hard Summer

Posted by caphillsm (My Page) on
Thu, Jul 29, 10 at 10:59

So, 18 year old SS is with us for the summer before beginning college. DH is finally realizing that SS doesnt REALLY want to go to college (wont call the school to inquire about anything, refuses to email new roomates, doesnt show ANY interest) DH confided in me only 3 days ago that "he has real concerns" about SSs lack of motivation.

I have seen this for 2 years, and he's just seeing it now? I am guessing its normal for the Biological parents to "get it" late sometimes? A denial thing?

So, SS is in our house until he reports to school on August 26th. At that point, he either actually gets interested and goes, or moves back home with BM and works. Its going to be up to him, we have provided all the coaching and support we can. DH seems "shocked" at what he is now finally waking up to. Dont worry, I am just quietly being supportive (no "I told you so"). DH has had some REALLY tough and difficult conversations with his son in the past week.

I had one guest visit all summer, my uncle and his wife were supposed to visit us next week. It would mean SS would have to vacate guest space and sleep in his dad's office on an air mattress for 3 nights. He doesnt care abotu this type of thing. I had thought they were coming for 2 nights. Last night I told DH that it is for 3 nights, and he literally blew a gasket. He said its too much time. He hasnt met these relatives.

I spoke with my parents privately today, and we all think that DH is REALLY unhappy with SS right now, and guests in the home for 3 days, right before SS is supposed to go to college, is overwhelming him. There is currently too much family tension and its just not a good time.

I let my uncle know this and he is totally cool with it. But I am mad. I am putting up with SS in my space ALL summer, and had to cancel my uncle's visit.

Should I just accept that this is a tough time for DH and SS and ride the wave? In a step-parenting situation, is this normal?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Very Hard Summer

Your DH's behavior is not fair, but you already know that. At the same time, if this is an isolated incident (DH getting upset about your uncle visiting) you might want to let it go this time. It's got to be really tough for your DH right now to realize that his son is not, at this point, maturing into the kind of adult that DH had hoped and supposed that he would be. I suspect that DH is really upset about the situation with his son and just transferred his worry and anger. Of course it's not appropriate for him to have done that but then none of us are perfect.

You still get to vent about it if you like, though! :)


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RE: Very Hard Summer

What? Why should you cancel uncle's visit? You should not!

SS cannot sleep on a mattress? WTF?

tough time? Why is DH's more important than yours?

How is 3 nights too much?

It is normal to have hard times and be supportive but it is not normal to cater to whims of kids/adults for no reason. does not like to sleep on a mattress..so what? does not want to go to college, he should go to work then and work hard. I feel terrible you must cancel your family's visits over this nonsense.


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RE: Very Hard Summer

DH has never reacted this way to anyone visiting before, it is isolated. He gets along great with my family. I have overheard some of the conversation he has had with his son over the past week and its pretty tough. All he does is play video games. The other day DH left a "task list" on the table for SS to do on his day off. It included calling the college's finance office, applying for work study, checking on classes still available, etc. When we got home, DH asked how it all went. SS hadnt made ONE call. Not one. When asked why, he had absolutely no explanation whatsoever. I am sure he played video games all day.

I think that DH is reeling from all this. The funny thing is, I have seen this coming a mile away. Is it "normal" for the step parent to get a sense of reality well before the actual parent does?

Parent of one, I get your point totally, but heres the deal: if DH is reeling and having trouble coping the way I think he is right now, I am not sure that is the best time for company to come. Especially company that DH and SS havent met before. Its hot, we are all working hard, and there is a lot of stress. The guests will be in "vacation mode" and frankly, I just cant deal with being a tour guide right now.

It isnt fair, yes, I already know that. I am, as a wife and SM, sacrificing right now. Sacrificing to alleviate some of the stress. Yes, I'm pretty unhappy about it.

To be honest with you, I am starting to blame SS for all this. I know that isnt fair, but that's how I feel.


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RE: Very Hard Summer

The funny thing is, I have seen this coming a mile away. Is it "normal" for the step parent to get a sense of reality well before the actual parent does?

That seems to happen a lot, but then again, it is also "normal" for aunts, uncles, grandparents, older siblings, neighbors, etc. to sometimes be able to see a lot further down the road that kids are headed on as well. I think part of it is some parents' personalities, that they are just naturally optimistic and tend to always believe that things will work out. Part of it sometimes seems to be some weird misplaced guilt back in the beginning; some parents seem to think that if their child is having trouble in some area that it must be their fault and so they tend to deny that there is a problem. And sadly, sometimes I think it is sheer laziness, where it is easier to just buy the kid something else then to bother dealing with them. And lastly (since we're on the step-parents forum) I think sometimes particularly non-custodial parents just cannot really do much about a problematic tendency back in the beginning - if a parent is only spending EOW with their child it's going to be very difficult to get kids back on the right track if the other parent is not cooperating.

Do you think DH could handle a conversation about the possibility of SS not going to college right now, but maybe working for a year or two first? It sounds like the tuition money, wherever it's coming from, is going to be completely wasted when SS drops/flunks out. What does BM say?


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RE: Very Hard Summer

it is normal for outsiders to see flaws and errors faster than for parents, of course it is normal, you are not emotionally invested the way parents are. i also think if parents admit their children's faults, they kind of admit that they fail as parents...

my nephew flunked first year of university, wasted time and money, now he lives at home and attends community college locally and does much better, he got enough credits and will be transferring to local university in the winter. some kids aren't ready. why pushing? community college is the best path for children like this.

mattie i don't think it is about parents being more optimistic, just level of emotional involvement is much higher for parents than for anyone else, it is more difficult to be objective when you are that invested.

I do agree about guilt parenting, especially among men.


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RE: Very Hard Summer

parent_of_one, my DH has an incredibly high tolerance for people's poor behavior in general - not just with his kids but with co-workers, neighbors, relatives, (me!), everyone. He's always inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt - over and over again, way past the point where most people would have read the big glaring neon sign on the wall. DH is just a really optimistic person (it offsets my cynicism nicely). So I just meant that I think that people like that are inclined to overlook things that other parents' might view as concerning tendencies, because of their standard assumptions that everything will work out for the best.

Community college is a great idea. Maybe SS would be more interested in getting an associate's degree to start with; he can always go back to complete a bachelor's later. For that matter, maybe SS would prefer a trade school or the military. Hopefully SS does not prefer to just lay back and let life happen to him; that will be a problem.


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RE: Very Hard Summer

"it is normal for outsiders to see flaws and errors faster than for parents, of course it is normal, you are not emotionally invested the way parents are. i also think if parents admit their children's faults, they kind of admit that they fail as parents..."

I think this is very true.

I can see why your DH is upset and disappointed about SS right now but I also think that some kids just are not ready. That is specifically why there are programs called "Gap Year" programs. I don't know anything about your finances or if something like this would be an option for SS---but you may want to look into it.

There is also the option of SS taking a semester or two off, working and hopefully maturing a bit. Maybe a dose of working at min. wage, paying rent, etc. will wake him up to the idea that a college degree opens a LOT of doors.

Community college is not a bad option, either.

Ideally, he would go straight from highschool to college and flourish, but if it is THAT obvious he's going to flounder, I would get an alternative plan in place.


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RE: Very Hard Summer

Caphillsm: Have you talked to your SS about what he wants? Has anyone?


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RE: Very Hard Summer

Yes, multiple times. Always says he wants to go. I asked again, privately, and put it in a way that "now is the time to decide otherwise, if you arent committed to this". He responded "I would prefer a leisurely life that would allow me to play video games all the time, however, I know that's not reality"


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RE: Very Hard Summer

my nephew flunked first year of college, and he also wanted to be in college and he is very bright and did well in high school, he just was not mature enough for college. your SS wants to go but is not mature enough, I would not send him out of town to attend college, he probably will flunk like my nephew did. "want" and "can" is a completely different thing. i want to be opera singer but i certainly can't. if SS pays for college himself then fine, but if dad pays then dad gets to say "attend community college locally an then transfer when you are ready".


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RE: Very Hard Summer

Parent of One: I agree with you. Problem is this: I cannot tell DH that his son isnt mature enough to go. He doesnt see it. SS certainly believes he is mature enough!

So, where does this leave the situation? I think it means he will just have to find out the hard way...assuming that happens.

SS is taking a student loan, and DH will fund what is left...which will also make is DHs wake up call! :-)

Can you tell me what specifically is making you say that he isnt mature enough yet?


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RE: Very Hard Summer

"Can you tell me what specifically is making you say that he isnt mature enough yet?"

I can, his complete lack of initiative. When/if he goes to college he is not going to be coddled and have others to take care of things for him. If he doesn't apply for financial aid in time, he won't get his student loans and will be kicked out, period; additionally, he personally will be liable for any amount that student loans didn't cover because he didn't apply. If he ends up with conflicting courses the school won't fix that unless he goes to request it, and again, he'll be on the hook for the costs. If he doesn't understand the coursework and doesn't ask the professor for extra help prior to exams, he'll fail. If he doesn't get up in the morning no one is going to come wake him; again, he'll just fail. He may well have courses that, during the first week, assign a project to be completed by the end of the course - and that project may never be mentioned again. But if it's not done, by him, with no one reminding him, he will fail.

I've seen this happen to other kids; they are so used to being pushed, poked, prodded, reminded, coaxed, bribed and coerced into doing anything. Then all of the sudden they're off at college, and start skipping classes (to play video games), or stay out drinking all night instead of studying; all the while assuming that "someone" would come and tell them that they needed to get off their behinds if it was reaching a critical point. Well, life as an adult (or even a college student) tends to not work that way. At most, the "reminders" that he may get are more likely to be polite letters rather than a kick in the behind, and are liable to be ignored until it's too late.


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Hard Summer

Wow, Mattie you just summed it up beautifully. Thank you. He must be pushed, bribed, poked, etc to do just about everything right now. I cannot imagine with we arent there to be doing it. I am sure he believes that, like in high school, someone will "get on his case" when he slips. Which wont happen. Unfortunately the wheels are in motion now, and he reports to the dorm on August 27th. (He only knows that because we forced him to check) He only has his list of what he needs because we made him print it, and his father dragged him to bed, bath and beyond to get some stuff. I see absolutely no actual initiative here.

The only thing that excited him to no end was when his Dad said he would get him a computer for college. Wow did he focus on that! I bet he has downloaded a lot of video games by now.

Oh, you mentioned "out all night drinking? This guy hasnt ever touched a drink, nor has any interest in doing so. Ditto for girls, sports, cars......


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RE: Very Hard Summer

He responded "I would prefer a leisurely life that would allow me to play video games all the time, however, I know that's not reality"

LOL! At least he's honest! As a parent I can imagine the horror your husband is going through, however, not everyone can be a doctor or lawyer. It takes many to make the world go 'round - perhaps working a year at McDonald's or Walmart would help him clarify which direction he would prefer his future to go... It may not be what his parents dreamed for him, but if he has no motivation, aspiration or drive to go to college, then he needs to be realistic and search for his own direction. Who knows, perhaps he'll get a job in an electronics store selling his favorite games. Or maybe he'll decide that creating those games would be pretty cool and go that route.


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RE: Very Hard Summer

caphillsm you asked why he is immature for college, i am quoting your own words.

"(wont call the school to inquire about anything, refuses to email new roomates, doesnt show ANY interest)"
'He must be pushed, bribed, poked, etc to do just about everything right now."

it is not how kids who truly ready for college act. DD applied for everything herself, registered for everything, knew all ins and outs ans sat on her suitcases starting late June LOL. I knew she was ready for college. She started packing her stuff when she got acceptance letter in January. haha

But what you described sounds like what my nephew did, sat around waiting for his dad to inquire about everything. Your DH makes a mistake by pushing him to do something he isn't ready. why going away for college? why not attend locally at least so eh can be monitored?


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RE: Very Hard Summer

To be honest, part of going away is to get him out of BMs house. We believe that a lot of the indolent behavior comes from being there. She doesnt require he keep his room clean (he often has NO clean clothes to wear when we pick him up...he certainly doesnt want to do it) She was just fired from her job, and will likely lose her house. While all that is going on, we really feel it would be nice for him to be living on a campus and stimulated by other peers that have some aspirations. My fear is that mom will convince him to move home anyway so he can flip burgers to help pay the rent she now will have trouble paying.

Honestly, DH thinks that ROTC or a military recruiter may be an excellent way to continue education, and build some leadership skills in a structured environment (DH is retired military). However SS is completely opposed to "anything military". Let's just say that if he fails out of first semester, he might not have a choice.


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RE: Very Hard Summer

I see, I thought he lives with you. I think there are more choices than military. If one is not into this, i think it is a wrong place to be. Why not letting him live with you and attend something locally? Or not an option?


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RE: Very Hard Summer

Living with us really isnt an option due to space. However, we would be willing to assist him to find a situation with a roomate where he could work and study. We arent in the same city as he lives with his mother, and our city is many times more expensive to live in. It would be hard for him without a real plan. Maybe he will make it through his first semester and feel inspired by his fellow college students!


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RE: Very Hard Summer

"Maybe he will make it through his first semester and feel inspired by his fellow college students!"

Wow. On the flip side, NO ONE is listening to this kid. It doesn't seem to matter that he appears to NOT want to go to college - everyone seems to be pushing their desires onto him. As someone who has carried the expectations of others on my own shoulders, it is a very rough road to follow, especially when your heart is not in it... If this is the case, I can understand his dejected demeanor.


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RE: Very Hard Summer

I am with lonepiper on this. I do not understand why he is forced to go to 4-year college away from home when he clearly is not ready and has no interests in doing so. Do parents worry that people will think poorly of them if their kid does not go to college? he might do well, we never know, but it is very unlikely, he can't even wash his clothes! where were his parents all these years...


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RE: Very Hard Summer

It sounds like he has been asked... "Yes, multiple times. Always says he wants to go. I asked again, privately, and put it in a way that 'now is the time to decide otherwise, if you arent committed to this'. He responded 'I would prefer a leisurely life that would allow me to play video games all the time, however, I know that's not reality'."

Since his desires are to lay around and play video games all day, I'm pretty sure that the parents are not going to go out of their way to accommodate his life plan.


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RE: Very Hard Summer

Thank you, Mattie. That is the case.

He has been asked for ANY other plan, over and over. He always SAYS he wants to go to college. He cannot offer any other suggestion, except that he wants to stay home and play video games. For us, that isnt a plan.

SO, we are back to the fact that he is reporting to the dorm in two weeks. However, he does absolutely nothing in terms of showing a desire, or initiative, to go. If you give him a chance to opt out, he doesnt. He doesnt do anything. So, we ARE listening to him.

This morning, I heard DH waking him up and telling him he needs to do his laundry and explaining again how to do it.

Last night, DH asked him at dinner what he liked about his summer job. SS1 replied "the teamliness" of it. DH asked what he meant, that isnt a word, and he replied "team-ly-ness"....being part of a team.

If he cannot get up and know when to do the basics, how can he possibly know when to go to class, finish a paper, study, etc?

If this guy was saying "I want to stay home, get a PT job, take a class at community college (or not), play video games, and think about my future", we would support that. He isn't doing that.

I fear a harsh wake up call is in his future.


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RE: Very Hard Summer

it is scary he does not know how to do laundry...
is he academically capable of taking college classes?

Well maybe it will work out.

My DD could neither cook nor clean nor grocery shop nor do her laundry properly (ruining everything), but as soon as she was on her own (and not in the dorm but renting) she all of a sudden knew where and how to shop, how to pay bills, what to cook, how to get a decent job, how to clean and how not to ruin her clothes. She was academically more than ready but i worried how she would manage otherwise. She did just fine. She had to, no mom or dad in any close proximity.

Maybe when there is no one around, he'll manage all right.


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RE: Very Hard Summer

I am thinking that currently he is enabled to some extent, and maybe will pick up the ball once independent. Should be intersting!


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