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My son dropped the bombshell and I don’t know how to help

(49 Posts)
Relaxmum Mon 18-Apr-11 14:50:01

Today my son called to meet me and told me he is dropping from Uni because that was not what he wants and had enough. I’ve seen him very unhappy and not enjoying it at all. I don’t stop from regretting for pushing him a lot and he is very ,lonely, finds it difficult to be in social situation and very emotional. I suggested counselling he completely refused and My main priority is to help him emotionally but as I was so focussed to put him through to Uni previously he didn’t want to take help from me. I’m at loss. Want to help so much and feel so guilty for pushing him to this point. All I want is my son to feel ok but what can I do to make him agree to get help? Please help I’m at loss and don’t know what to do

lazymumofteenagesons Mon 18-Apr-11 15:42:53

Is he at university away from home? If so, he/you could look into him switching to one where he could live at home, this would make the social insecurity side slightly easier and would enable you to support him. Also universities have very good support services. Perhaps rather than suggesting 'counselling' you could try pointing him in the direction of talking to one of the universty student support people to discuss his decision on dropping out.

Relaxmum Mon 18-Apr-11 16:12:47

It is not the university because we live the same city and he chose to stay in halls. It is the course and he is completely cut off from his peers. He said he talk to them to live and he didn’t need help as he thought he doesn’t need it. I suggested to apply in UCAS extra the course he wants but refused anything to university. He said he prefers to get job in minimum wage. He got a*ab in maths, further maths and English lit. I just want to help him from isolation and possible depression.

snorkie Mon 18-Apr-11 17:34:17

Poor lad. Is he a first year? I don't think it's uncommon for youngsters to have these wobbles, and it may well be nothing to do with you pushing. Would he be able to ask for a year out rather than stopping completely? At least that would give him a chance to change his mind later. It might even be possible to change course after a year if that is the problem or perhaps he might be better off going into something like accountancy without a degree?

gingeroots Mon 18-Apr-11 20:52:47

Oh poor lad and poor you .
Please try not to feel guilty about him going to Uni in the first place ,you were only trying to do what you thought was best and who knows ,if he hadn't gone ,he might have regretted it .
Ask him how you can help ,what you can do to support him - I think if it were me I'd say come home ( assuming he wants to ,tho guess it would be hard for him to rent independently until he gets a job ) and look for a job .
Is the difficulty with social situations and being emotional something new ? Or has he felt like this before ?

He's got good qualifications ,a year or more out working might buck him up .
I'm sure he can return to education if he wanted to later .

Watertight Mon 18-Apr-11 21:59:35

I'll say it too - poor him and poor you.

I think you have to level with him and tell him that you love him very much and you really, really believed that it was the best thing for him to go to uni and this is why you pushed for it. Tell him well done for giving it a go but acknowledge that it has not worked out and that you now need to find a way forward.

Could you make an appointment to go and see his tutor together (would he be ok with that?). You could see what the options are together.

It may be a possibility for him to leave his current course now and start a new course (at the same uni ) next October but live at home this time?

I'm sure you know it but the most important thing you can do right now is love him and hug him and give him endless reassurance that you will work something out together and that whatever he decides is fine.

Poor kid.

Good luck...

Relaxmum Mon 18-Apr-11 22:46:34

Thank you for all your support. I said I love him and want to support him in whatever he wants to do. But he thinks I’m to blame to push in a wrong course and there is nothing to be done now. Basically, his future is over and he will get catering job and live in bed-sit( his word) He is always a quite boy but Recently he finds social places uncomfortable. In my heart I feel it is not the course it is the fact that he had to meet many people at uni is the problem. All I want is to help him come over his possible social phobia and he is not letting me . I feel so helpless and I 've no idea what to do.

Snorki, lastyear this time doing his A level he was up for finance or banking as a career and now just wants to hide.

gingerroot, he is coming the end of this month. I suggested change of course or having a break. He said he can't bear to be in Uni anymore.

iwastooearlytobeayummymummy Mon 18-Apr-11 23:01:45

First of all take deep breath, step back and accept his decision

All his educational life he has possibly been focussed on 'acheiving' and he may well need to say 'stop, let me take stock, reflect and rest.'
A chance to take a less pressured path may be what he needs at this moment, and also to know that this choice is valid.

hopefully it will give him chance to think, and thinking is creative
he may well come round to higher education in his own time. when he finds out for himself that it opens more opportunities for him, but until then just be his safe place.

take care of him, he sounds like he needs your unquestioning love and support at the moment
take care of yourself too. Who's there to support you?

snorkie Tue 19-Apr-11 01:18:42

Uni isn't for everyone and I agree a chance to think will be a good thing for him. If he does decide he wants to study later, then maybe an Open University course that he could do in modules as and when he wants to and without much (or even any) social interaction would suit him better - it's never too late to go back to studying and it sounds as though a break is what he needs at the moment. You sound like a very supportive and caring mum, so don't take too much notice of him blaming you - he could well just be saying that as he needs a scapegoat right now, but even if it is a bit justified, what's done is done and you can only move forward and be as supportive as you can from now on.

gingeroots Tue 19-Apr-11 08:55:17

Good advice from iwastooearly .
Sounds like he's got himself really worked up /distressed.
I think he needs to calm down ,regroup before he makes any decisions about what his next immediate step should be .
I agree with snorkie about him blaming you - I think people often lash out at those they feel safest with ,he knows he can express his frustration at anger at you and you'll accept it because you love him .
Sending you strength.

Relaxmum Tue 19-Apr-11 10:28:17

thank you for advice. I still in shock, but I need to be strong for him. I'm single parent with no support from any where. I just have to put on a front face and help him. I have no strength in me. just hope every thing will be fine or he will get help for social anxiety and see how thing will move.

gingeroots Tue 19-Apr-11 12:39:13

Maybe discussing things with him more or less as two adults might help?
Tell him it's a shock and you're worried for him ,but that you both want the same thing - for him to feel ok .
Reassure him that while it's tough being his age ,things will get better ,and that you're proud of him for sticking out a difficult situation and giving it a go .
( just wondering ,passing thought ,could the uni be at fault ? maybe not very good teachers putting him off the course ? is it a fairly well regarded uni ? )

Relaxmum Tue 19-Apr-11 16:21:49

gingeroots, he is at the top ten( if that mean anything) RG uni. I don't think it is the University, I tried today to talk to him in calm view and suggested instead of droping out to take ayear out. He said he can only make that decision and never to raise this with him. He said he knows what he is doing, I wish it is the case. still very difficult ot see his options as he won't let me.

madwomanintheattic Tue 19-Apr-11 16:35:12

i dropped out at easter in my first year. smile
if it helps, i'm a fully functioning adult who went back to uni as a mature student after a period of time in the workplace (6 or 7 years). then i went on to a masters. and i'm considering phd.

oh, and when i dropped out, my parents made a doctors appointment for me, because they wanted officila verification that i wasn't mental. (their words).

i worked in a series of fairly shit shop jobs for a year, took a temp job as a civil servant, then joined the raf as an officer. (studied since leaving).

you know - if it is the social side, he's going to have the same problems with work.

where is he now? presumably he is financially dependent on you at the mo? so the whole 'oh, i'm going to live in a bedsit' routine is going to come crashing down round this ears without him finding and keeping a job?

i suggest (like others) doing nothing but be supportive-ish. if he wants to make adult decisions, that's fine (to be fair - he's going to have to that anyway, as he's moving away and getting himself a job). uni isn't the be all and end all, and quite often those who drop out early do go back to it when they are a - ready, and b- see the benefit.

i imagine spending a year in a bed sit on minimum wage will be enough to crystallise the benefit of education. you'll have to watch for the depression, but there's not a lot you can do at the moment because he is probably a bit disappointed with himself/ mixed up about where he's going.

tough for you though, but at the mo you have to respect the fact that they are his options, not yours. hard, hard, hard. sad

madwomanintheattic Tue 19-Apr-11 16:36:48

he needs some space and time to sort it out in his own head without any additional pressure. trying to force him to talk before he's ready, or before he's worked out what he really think shimself, is going to drive him further away.

Relaxmum Wed 20-Apr-11 11:15:47

madwomanintheattic, thank you very good advice, if only my heart let go. He is still in Halls and his reason is, he wants to improve or rather prove to himself he could have go for English coures by retaking english lit A- level. he had B and wants A/A*. I'm completly confused and and don't understand why to retake A level when he said doesn't want to study,aaaahhhh. Please some one tell me if they could see a little irresponsible behaviour. He could transfer coures easily with what he had.He took student loan, but when he comes home he will be depend on me finacially. I suggested to apply for benefit, which point blank refused. I really want to guide him but I have to come to a decision it might be good to let go so he can finds himself and decide his future.

madwomanintheattic Wed 20-Apr-11 15:06:48

why is he still in halls? has he not withdrawn fully from his course? has he told the uni?

you need (or he needs) to check out the current regulations - there used to be a loophole regarding whether or not you dropped out of a course before 20 weeks study (usually about easter) as to how easy it was to get on a new course in the future and qualify for any subsidies/ fees etc. i'm not sure what the current status is with first degrees any more as i end up paying for all mine anyway grin. it used to be if you had completed 20 weeks that you effectively had used up any fee entitlement as if you had completed the whole course. if he thinks he might go back at some point and this rule still stand, he needs to have it properly documented that he left before the 20 week point. i know it was still in force about five years ago, but they've messed around with fees etc so much now. i reaaly hope it doesn't include loan entitlement as well, but worth checking.

has he discussed with the uni whether it would be possible to transfer to an english course if that's what he wants to do longer term?

(weirdly, i did actually change my course when i finally went back to uni - i started to do a joint busines studies degree as it was sensible - a bit like your son with his finance? and switched after, yep, two terms, to a straight english lit grin. there was a bit of catch-up re credits, but it was honestly no bother at all.)

unless he needs an a/* to do english i wouldn't bother with re-sitting, but he's obviously sifting a few things around in his head and trying to find his way, which is probably a good thing...

so difficult to step back. next door are going through this at the mo - their eldest is on her third different first year in three, and has just announcd that she is stopping and taking a year out to decide what she actually wants to do whilst working. grin it's very common. huge decision at 18 to have to work out what you want to do for the rest of your life. very scary! but nothing is forever, and lots of folk change their minds later on and re-train.

hope you are managing ok - i can't imagine what i put my parents through! x

Relaxmum Wed 20-Apr-11 18:02:01

'why is he still in halls? has he not withdrawn fully from his course? has he told the uni?' I've know idea? He is avoiding to explain to his sibilings probably. he won't let me know if he already dropped out or planning to do or just not turn up for exam. whenever I bring up to him all he say is just leave it.

Yes he tried to switch at the begining of the year and the English department is one of the most compitetive to go to so there wasn't any chance. and as the year pass he seemed settled or rather found the course easy even if struggled socially.

I think he is also scared of failure and very confused boy. I don't know if I'm managing but made me question my parenting skills or ways with his sibilings. Pretty much lost confidence in parenting.

madwomanintheattic Wed 20-Apr-11 18:07:23

well, if he tried to change at the beginning of the course, maybe it is something he really wants to do?

could he move back home and re-sit at an fe college? it sounds it might really be what he wants to do.

is he coming home for easter w/e? maybe some chilled family time whilst you do his laundry will calm him down a bit? <not that i'm advocating you doing his laundry, but maybe he needs a bit of tlc>

PeachyAndTheArghoNauts Wed 20-Apr-11 18:14:20

Dh was pushed and pushed by his Mum (who has OCD so I bet far more than you did OP, please don;t feel bad) and never got to take up his palce on an IT course becuase he crashed just beforehand 9complex story, expected to get A's at college and also hold down a FT job to pay full whack keep and his Mum would wake him after late shifts as she was a cleaner but coudln;t drive so use dhim as a taxi.....)

Anyway he never went and had a really good career in transport management by climbing the ladder from within, and when that ended through redundancy he hs now headed off to uni, is one of the top of his year and loving it- in a vaguely related but essentially completely different field. he still gets help for his MH issues from uni mind, they do indeed have excellent provision because struggles are so^ ^common.

Don't feel bad- depression can kick in at any stage and as a teen everything feels so final. but life can take many paths, and he may well climb internal ladders or head back later when he is more able to cope.

Coca Wed 20-Apr-11 18:18:55

Relaxmum, sorry haven't had a chance to read the whole thread, just the top and bottom if you see what I mean.

I dropped out of Uni as I never really wanted to go. I didn't know what I wanted to do but my parents didn't give me any option. My older siblings had gone and thrived. I knew I wouldn't. I quit with the intention of working instead (had really enjoyed earning during my gap year)

The long and the short of it is I think I made the right choice. I've had a few wobbles through the years thinking I would be more finacially secure etc but on the whole it was right for me. My only regrets are my feelings of failure. To be an absolute brat about it I blame my parents for this and resent them for making it clear I had failed them.

You have the chance to stop your son feeling like this. Uni is not the only path to a happy successful life. Make it clear that you are proud of his bottle to change his life.

Procrastinating Wed 20-Apr-11 18:19:58

Hello Relaxmum, I think 18/19 is a stupid age to go to university. I used to teach in one and saw lots of tearful and anxious teenagers, many of them who had been putting a face on it. Nothing whatsoever to do with your parenting I'm sure.
Let him drop out and reconsider his life and himself, You need to try and trust him.
University wasn't for me at 18 so I left, worked in various jobs, travelled a bit and then went back at 23. I ended up staying on for a PhD, I would never have done that the first time round.
Open University is great for young people like your son, I'm an OU tutor and we get lots of university drop outs who find their feet again this way.

Coca Wed 20-Apr-11 18:20:18

Sorry I mean that I resent them for the way that they acted AFTER I dropped out, not for wanting the best for me (however misguided their approach was)

Relaxmum Wed 20-Apr-11 19:00:11

Thank you everyone He is coming this weekendand and he told me to act normal no fussing. he is doing the retake as private candidate. He missed A with 4 marks so doesn't need to attend college. Thank you Coca for your insight wrt resentment. I certainly won't show disappointment, to be honest all I want is his happiness and never disapoined in him in the circumstance of our life he done really well and proud of him. I genuinely believed he enjoyed maths as he excelled on it. He never made his feeling for english until the first day of Uni.

verlainechasedrimbauds Wed 20-Apr-11 19:11:39

It's hard isn't it? My lovely, clever DD has decided she's leaving Uni. I'm supporting her in her decision because, to be honest, she was so miserable that I could see her descending into depression. When it was suggested that she tried to see it out at least until the end of this year, she said that she couldn't see the point as she felt that she would just be waiting to be able to be happy again...

It sounds as if you're being a great Mum: supportive and non-judgmental. I expect that if he's been feeling really miserable it might take him a while to unwind and he's likely to be pretty defensive and worry that he's let you down. I hope you can sort it out between you. Good luck

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