worried about ds, 21 drifting(14 Posts)
I'm new, so I apologise if I'm posting this in the wrong place.
My ds has just left uni with no qualifications and is coming to stay with me after leaving halls of residence. Before uni he was living with his mum (since he was 14, mostly due to my MH issues), so this is the first time in a long while that we will live together. I think I have a good relationship with him - I missed out on any teenage angst but feel I have a great deal of 'making up' to do.
Now he has dropped out of his course, which didn't really suit him anyway, and appears to intend to live with me until he finds a job. I'm not sure he has any idea how difficult this might be, or how long it might take, and I live out in the sticks, away from bright lights and job opportunities. He hasn't any clear goals and I'm worried that he will just drift into a miserable life of minimum wage jobs or the dole, like many people I know, if he doesn't get motivated quickly. He just seems a bit lost.
I think I'm hoping for some reassurance or advice on how to help motivate him, or what should I do for the best.
I'm sorry for the long post, but I really don't have anyone I can turn to for help.
Maybe I should add that my MH (depression) is much improved on 7 years ago, and I am happy for him to stay with me for a bit, but I REALLY don't want to enable him to just laze around with no plan. It seems important that I do this sooner rather than later.
Perhaps somebody could point me in the right direction, please, if not MN, then of somewhere I can get advice.
First off, your DS/his situation is by no means unusual - far from it.
Take heart from the fact that he is still very young - he obviously has enough qualifications to have got him into Uni and he can build on those, plus all his learning from the past 2- 3 years, even if he didn't complete his degree.
He needs good advice - really sound signposting. Could his old uni careers office help? Another uni careers advice service? When people leave uni, they can use the advice services of other universities, ones closer to them. I don't think they have to be graduates -
So contact your nearest university careers or his old one - and see what they say. I don't think connexions exists anymore or that might have been a possibility (though standards of advice were very variable).
Can you work with his mum on this one? Input from both parents is usually best if that's possible.
Good luck - hang on in there and know that a positive, pragmatic approach on his parents' part will be a significant of the solution.
Hope your DS gets a job soon while he sorts himself out. Apart from earning money, he'd meet people and people can be a wonderful source of support and ideas ...
If he can't find a job straight off, could he volunteer in his chosen field? It would give him some experience to put on his CV and a reference source.
Agree - any job, volunteering or not, will a) give him experience for a CV, b) sharpen his mind as to what he does or doesn't like about it and c) stop him just falling into a pit of depression, inactivity, playing on the computer all day, not waking up till lunchtime, staying all day in his pyjamas etc.
Help him put together a professional looking CV, even if it's a bit empty so far! and show him/help him to apply for things he might want to do. Discuss job ads with him and even if he hasn't remotely got the qualifications/experience for what he wants to do, at least it will focus his mind on the next steps he needs to take to get there. Do you have any friends or family who could give him a job to get him started?
In the meantime, make sure he pulls his weight around the house - cooking, cleaning etc. So at least he feels useful. And is paying his way in a small way.
I'm sorry for the delay in responding; I've only just now been able to have enough privacy to check this thread again.
Thank you for taking time to reply Fiona24, Chottie and Breadandbutterfly. I really do appreciate your reassurances that my situation isn't unique. I feel less alone and that really does help.
He is already not getting up til lunchtime and has his head stuck in his laptop all day. He has been expecting me to feed him, so yesterday I told him that I'm not cooking today (he's been here 10 days - I've fed him all of that, even though I don't usually cook for myself every day) + he'll have to sort himself out. I don't know if that will happen, but he managed to not starve through uni...
I still feel that I can't be too hard on him or nag because maybe I haven't done enough for him in the past (mostly due to my MH issues that he doesn't know the half of, so he's just seen me as not being there for him enough).
He's gone to sign on for JSA today, before which we(I) had a bit of a (one-sided/monosyllabic) chat about what he is going to do, which seems mostly to be that he is expecting me to sort everything out for him, including finding accommodation and a job, in a city 100 miles away. I haven't been very sociable lately, so have no contacts or friends or family to help him out, and his mum has her own overwhelming issues. Volunteering is the perfect idea but he 'doesn't see the point in working for no money', even though it will fill his time, enable him to meet people, make friends, improve his CV and help in the long run, and he might actually enjoy it, too. GRRR!! I'm beginning to wonder if he is just a lazy sod with big dreams he'll never actually achieve, and I HATE that I've even thought that. (He is still my beautiful, brilliant, shining star, but...)
His uni has seemed to be quite unsupportive but that could just be down to him not asking them for help. But I will get in touch with the nearest uni careers advisor and see if I can get him to chat with them.
I will have to sort this all out for him if that's what it takes, even though I know that it's really in his best interests to do it for himself. I have a tiny one-bed flat and he just can't sleep on my settee forever. So I need to sort it out for him before he gets more sucked down into lethargy and before we get cabin fever from being cooped up in too small a space together and end up seriously jeopardising our relationship.
Sincerely, thank you for your advice guys. (and sorry for the length - I think that venting may have helped!)
This is going to be tough - you have to be cruel to be kind. Don't let your guilt over not being an involved dad during his teenage years get in the way. Doing everything for him now won't make up for that anyway and you are not doing him any favours trying to sort his life out for him. Of course you must help him (as you are doing), but it sounds like he will simply let you!
He is no longer a child, but if he is unable to discipline himself (because he has nothing he has to do), you must set clear rules and tasks so you share the responsibilities of running the house, cooking, shopping etc. Easier said than done, but persist. You might find that showing you expect and trust him to do his designated chores means he lives up to that expectation (rather than just ordering him to do stuff). I have always expected my kids (both teenagers now, one boy, one girl) to do some household chores. I work full-time and am now a single parent, so if we are going to live in a civilised household, without me feeling like a complete drudge and a slave, then they have to pitch in. Obviously, I do most of it, but things like helping with the laundry, sweeping stairs, vacuuming, unloading/loading dishwasher and doing some simple cooking (and clearing up afterwards!) isn't beyond them.
You could try sitting him down, adult to adult, and explaining all that has to be done and asking him how it would be best to divide it between you - for example, he might enjoy cooking but hate clearing up, so you could agree he would do more cooking and you do more clearing, rather than just take it in turns. But that might be a tad optimistic!
He might be able to get a retail job in a supermarket or DIY type store: with Sunday trading and 24/7 shopping, there are more opportunities and he'd be earning a wage. Appreciate that location/transport could be an issue. If he can't get a job, then you have to explain that volunteering is a way in - as you meet people, get the chance to network and gain experience (as you clearly know!). Suggest he looks on it as an investment for the future rather than 'working for no pay'.
I think you have to try to set a daily routine for him - expectations again - so he doesn't just lounge in bed. If he doesn't comply, he doesn't eat (easy to say, very hard to do!). I wonder if you might try emailing him a letter voicing your concerns, rather than trying to have these difficult conversations with him, that can lead to either silence or rows. Easier for him - and easier for you, too. I have found this useful with my teenage son. We also text a lot.
Sorry for this long screed, but I really feel for you in this predicament. I do think what the Americans call 'tough love' is called for here - or you could both go mad!
In same situation here. DS isn't going back. He's just failed 2nd year for the 2nd time and seem surprised that I'm not giving him a 3rd go at 2nd year.
Not sure what to do or where to go now.
Will be watching this thread with interest.
Same situation for me too. DD failed first year at uni and is back home with no job or money.
I have no idea what to do, ended up shouting at her last night and now I feel really guilty. I know getting angry about it doesn't help.
I'm pushing DS to go sign on for Jobseekers. At least that way someone else will be putting the pressure on for him to show evidence of job searching, attending interviews etc.
same situation here with a 22yr old nephew I've inherited, better do the "tough love" thing quick, nip it in the bud, it is even harder as they get older and especially when you are female they don't respect you to start with, set strict limits for getting up, doing his share of housework and no compromise on getting a job - any job - if he can't hack it he will go back to his mum but you stick to your guns, good luck, he will thank you one day (in his head, not to your face!)
You sound a very caring dad, llwyn, I feel for you.
Signing on will help to establish some sort of routine and force him to apply for jobs. My DSis has been signing on for 8 months after leaving her job with depression as a result of bullying. They have been helping her establish her own photography business and have actually been great. She's feeling far more optimistic now.
As posters above suggest, a supermarket/factory/high street shop might be the way to go right now, so he can get some money and a more solid routine. And there's no harm in him taking a bit of time thinking about his future. If the university course didn't suit him, some other qualification might - something at college, more vocational, different field. Just because you flunk out first time round doesn't mean the end. If he uses this time to earn some money and think about what he wants from life, it might be the making of him.
Oh yeah, and get him cooking for himself!
I've got DS doing loads of cooking and cleaning and I've not done any gardening since he came home.
I'm hoping the mundane-ness of it will drive him to work outside the home.
I know this is now and old thread and I'm sorry for the belated reply. I'm very grateful for your messages of support and solidarity - thank you all. I did read them all (even if I didn't reply - the pc is in the lounge and I didn't feel like I had the privacy to reply at the time.) I wanted to give an update - to maybe give a little hope to others in a similar situation. This story has a happy ending that I wanted to share.
He stayed three months. After a few more weeks of increasingly strained politeness, we had a bit of a loud discussion again about whether he was just expecting me to magically find him decent accommodation + a job when I haven't been able to find these things for myself. I did get him signing on, which he hated enough to apply for a security licence, in order to at least have an income while he figured what he wanted to do with his life.
After my last post, he did start cooking - that actually worked almost too well - he remembered that he enjoys eating lovely food that he's cooked himself and he kept dragging me into the kitchen to help (my rule is that the cook doesn't wash up - I've done more washing up recently than ever before!) and so I've been eating very well too!
He was an avid snooker player while at uni and was missed at his favourite snooker hall since he had come to stay with me. About two months after he arrived here he got a message from the snooker hall that there was a vacancy, if he wanted a job there. Which he totally did. He quickly got himself together and miraculously immediately found cheap suitable accommodation nearby. He moved out a month ago and started work a couple of weeks ago. This is pretty much his dream starter job (well, apart from being England football manager); it might be minimum-wage, entry-level but it's a big company with prospects of promotion, so he can look at it as a career job, rather than just an income til he finds something better. And he seems to be quite enjoying it. His accommodation is fine too.
I feel so relieved. We had a big family Christmas with and I got to spend some time with him this week, the first since he moved out - he's still speaking to me and doesn't seem scarred by his time with me (I wasn't sure that he wasn't just being civil cos he had to while he was under my roof!) so I'm over the moon!
I'm sorry I can't give any advice to others about how to make this situation work, this worked out well for us by sheer chance, but I wanted to share the message that there IS hope.
Sorry for the long post. Thanks for the reassurance, Lenora and Lucia, I wish good luck to you Figray and Nightsky.
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