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DSs: causing us real financial difficulty

(47 Posts)
Fiona24 Sat 06-Jul-13 19:03:45

DS, 17, tethered to his computer. Rarely off it - says it's necessary for school work and, when he's not doing that, says he's talking to friends, playing games etc. Doesn't see friends outside school hours and hardly ever goes out of his own accord. His life revolves round this computer. Boy, have I tried to get him off it - I've spoken to school who say, properly quite correctly, that he can do a great deal of his work from notes and books. But DS fights me and fights me over this - frankly, for several years it has been hell. I am exhausted.

When, as a last resort, I showed him a letter from the elec co threatening disconnection as we can barely meet our elec bills (they say our usage is way over the top for a smallish house) - he was upset and seemed to really understand that his dependency on the computer has gone on long enough.

But his assurances that he would severely limit his time haven't materialised - he's now back to round the clock (bar school and sleeping) use. When I take the internet connection away, he phones me at work to insist that he needs it for eg homework - I give in and he's in again until 11pm or later.

I must sound so weak. So stupid. But his behaviour is such that I get so emotionally and physically drained and give in - He gets hostile, cold - it's nasty stuff.

Other DS holiday from Uni, making far too little effort to find work - and he's taken on a full rent from June. I'm having to pay it month by month or else he and his co-tenant would be slung out. He made an unwise, hasty choice (not for the first time) and I'm wondering how we'll manage until his loan is in. DH and I don't earn much and we have enough to do to pay our mortgage and bills - Have helped DS all I can with his CV and job hunting - the rest is up to him and although I know the temporary work climate is harsh, there are jobs (eg fast food outlets but he says he doesn't like them - the smell etc) locally or in surrounding towns. He could make a real contribution towards his Summer rent - and have money in the bag for next term. And have time to see friends and study.

So - here we are - two budget conscious parents who have perhaps done too much for these boys. Is it too late? It can't be - I'm so tired - full time work and a shed load of money worries. Words of encouragement/tough love advice - anything, please!

OnTheNingNangNong Sat 06-Jul-13 19:11:03

Cut the Internet off. If he needs it for school work he can use the library access.
For your eldest- don't pay his rent. If he loses his house that's his problem. Don't keep being walked over by them.
You are the parent, if you're not happy with it, put a stop on it.

ssd Sat 06-Jul-13 19:12:56

just hugs from me

<watching with interest>

ssd Sat 06-Jul-13 19:13:35

real helpful there ontheningnangnong

HarrietSchulenberg Sat 06-Jul-13 19:25:51

Agree totally with onthe other than I'd restrict internet to 2 hours per day rather than a full cut off. 2 hours is plenty of time for homework. Give him a 10 min warning before cut off time then pull the plug at bang on time.
Other ds needs to pay his own rent, he's an adult.

Fiona24 Sat 06-Jul-13 20:50:11

Thanks all - good advice here. Just been up to DS's room - on a games forum - more excuses - has done very little work for a big school assignment coming up - I feel that I have lost the battle. I told him this -

When internet is off, DS sulks, does nothing, will not, will really not, study from his books, making notes and his lack of fresh air and exercise is absolutely impacting on his moods and behaviour. His computer has been on for hours and hours today and last night - and Thursday when he was off school - and the net result is barely a page of writing. Got books and other source material for him from the library but he's barely looking at it. Has to have the computer on - or else he's utterly aimless.

And, in the meantime, other DS doing very little to find work -

The lads know we struggle to make ends meet and, between us, work long hours. Their behaviour is really very callous. Tired and sad!

MayTheOddsBeEverInYourFavour Sat 06-Jul-13 20:54:04

Just limit his time online, if he sulks or doesn't work then tough! It won't kill him

specialsubject Sat 06-Jul-13 21:00:13

so they are nasty, lazy and selfish. As someone else pointed out, you don't take this from partners and you CERTAINLY don't take it from children.

ningnangnong is right. Cut off support until behaviour merits it. Tell them what you want done.

YoungBritishPissArtist Sat 06-Jul-13 21:11:24

I think you need to get tough.

Younger son - limit Internet to 1-2 hours per day.

Uni son - I think you should be even tougher on him! He's now an adult and can't expect a free ride. He doesn't like the smell of fast food places? Cry me a river shock He has no real incentive to find a job when he knows you'll pick up the slack.

LunaticFringe Sat 06-Jul-13 21:12:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Gooseysgirl Sat 06-Jul-13 21:18:36

I would be concerned that your younger DS maybe has some kind of computer addiction and might be worth speaking to your GP.

lljkk Sat 06-Jul-13 21:24:41

What a pisser.
My gut feeling was Turn the Wireless off from 9pm-7am.
There is no pretty way out of this, OP.
If you start with the attitude that they will hate you for whatever you do, may make it easier to do the right thing.
Good luck.

HeathRobinson Sat 06-Jul-13 21:52:42

You could sit your youngest son down and tell him that if he fails at school, it will impact on him, not you. I have told mine this, not in a nasty way, it is a natural consequence of failing to work.

Fairylea Sat 06-Jul-13 21:57:27

No more internet. Simple as that.

Tell him to get a part time job and pay for his own smartphone with internet (like a Samsung galaxy s4) which he can use like a computer or he pays for his own dongle for the internet.

I have to say though I'm surprised one person being glued to the pc has that much of an impact on your electricity bill. Have you also looked at switching suppliers? And using someone ultra cheap for internet - like plusnet?? Just ideas. I'm sure you've exhausted all ideas already.

rockybalboa Sat 06-Jul-13 22:25:23

You need to play hard ball with them. DS1 gets a job, any job, and uses that towards his rent or he loses his property. Less sure about DS and his computer although agree that moving the router into your bedroom and turning it off at certain times is the way forward. It does seem unlikely that your high electricity use is down to his computer though, surely they can't use that much power?

Fiona24 Sat 06-Jul-13 22:52:35

Thanks, all - consensus is get tough with both DSs - and I totally agree. They kind of back me into a corner - younger DS as he says, when challenged, that he has to be on PC for school work. Though when I go into his room, he quickly switches screens. Very clear he is gaming - fine within reason but it's out of control and his excuse for being on the PC in the first place is homework. Vicious circle which must be broken but I am so worn down.

DS 2 and his reluctance to work in certain places - or anywhere other than our small town - is galling. He's back to Uni soon to enjoy 10 days with his gf and to see his department - uni is a long way away and who's paying his fares and living costs - as well as his long Summer rent? We are. However stupid it sounds, I feel powerless. He could make life very nasty for me if he wanted to - he gets angry and belligerent whenever money/responsibility/budgeting etc are mentioned. (As for turning up his nose at working in a fast food restaurant, DH has a weekend cleaning job to help make ends meet - we know that there is absolutely no room for snobbery when bills need to be paid.)

Our high elec bills are largely down to the almost round the clock use of younger DS' gaming computer - and the constant downloading - games and videos. He has two screens and claims that the second is charged from the surplus power of the first. He has an answer for everything ..
Certainly having the internet on costs peanuts but his high spec computer uses a lot of power. The elec board, to which I've spoken about our bills, are certain that this is where the problem lies.

Sorry to go on about this - I am grateful for your helpful replies. After reading them, I repeated what I thought DS and I had agreed, namely that internet/computer use should be restricted to a couple of hours a day (with perhaps internet free days so other things could be done) - picked up a bad vibe. I'm worn out with these constant battles.

webwiz Sat 06-Jul-13 23:00:57

I think you need to sit down with both of them and explain how difficult you are finding things and how you need to get tough. Less computer for DS2 and some work for DS1. Its probably a good time to get computer use under control before DS2 goes into year 13. Make sure DS1 knows that the summer rent is a loan not a gift and he has to make a contribution.

DD1 has done work with a temp agency in the summer break, a few weeks in a factory full time and that made a real diifference to how much money she had.

Beamur Sat 06-Jul-13 23:03:32

Your sons are bullying you.
No wonder you are tired and worn out, as soon as you try to have a reasonable conversation they are aggressive and belligerent with you.
You are not powerless, but you need to turn the money tap off.
Tell your youngest that it is not negotiable, set the times he has access to the PC for school work or whatever else and after that is goes off - and do not give in, regardless of his wheedling - he has learnt that if he complains/threatens you enough, you give in.
Presumably if the rent is not paid your other son will lose his house? How is his housemate paying? You could refuse to pay this rent - unless you have signed as a guarantor but make it very clear you will not bail him out another time, if he does this again then refuse to pay the rent and let him learn the lesson the hard way. Are you giving him money over the summer as well as the rent? My DSS is home from Uni now and is on a tight budget as we aren't giving him any extra money at all. I have helped him find some work though and to his credit he has been working at a manual job to save money so he can go on holiday with his friends.

webwiz Sat 06-Jul-13 23:06:29

I think when you are in the middle of it all its difficult to see a way out but why are you paying for your DS to go back to uni for 10 days if you can't really afford it? Its not unreasonable to expect him to have some loan/grant left over with to fund himself for some things and if he's spent it all - then tough no money from you.

flow4 Sat 06-Jul-13 23:12:43

It sounds very stressful, Fiona. sad

The computer use is probably quite easily limited. BT, for instance, has something called 'hub manager' that lets you set a timer to limit internet usage to certain hours. I bet other providers do too. But you need to stick to it and not give in! (Summer may be a good opportunity becasue he won't have the homework excuse to try to manipulate you with!)

Your older son's attitude is harder. I think you have to decide where your line is before you can make it clear to your son. If you are not able and willing to support him over the summer (and I don't blame you!) then you really only have one options: tell him he gets a job by X date and starts paying you rent, or he can't stay. Unfortunately, the other possibilities make for a horrible atmosphere and/or won't work... Charging him rent won't actually work unless/until he has an income to pay you from, so it's likely that he will simply build up a debt to you that you'll never get back. hmm

It's upsetting when your DCs take liberties, isn't it? I hope you can get it sorted.

BTW, you can work out exactly how much power the computer uses:

[(Watts x Hours Used)/1000 ] x Cost per kilowatt-hour = Total Cost

A desktop PC uses 240W maximum, and probably less. A laptop uses much less - less than a quarter. Electricity costs about 15p/kWh on average (there's a lot of variation, from 5-20p).

So if he keeps his PC on 24 hours/day and it's using maximum power, it is costing you approx. 86p per day, or £315/year. But it's likely to be much less than that, tbh: so for instance, if you deduct school (7 hours) sleep (8 hours) that leaves 9 hours/day and a bill of £118/year... And if his PC is efficient, it'll be lower still...

flow4 Sat 06-Jul-13 23:18:10

Cross posts. This line is worrying, Fiona: "He could make life very nasty for me if he wanted to - he gets angry and belligerent whenever money/responsibility/budgeting etc are mentioned." sad
If you are actually afraid of your DS, that is definitely not acceptable. What do you think would happen if you stood your ground? You have the right to be and feel safe in your own home. If you feel physically threatened by him, you need to call the police.
Where is your DH in this? Is he helping, parenting your boys, drawing lines...?

Viking1 Sun 07-Jul-13 08:08:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BadSkiingMum Sun 07-Jul-13 08:16:48

Oldest son - tell him that he has two more weeks to find a job. After that, you will cut the amount of his rent you are paying to 70%. That way, he won't lose the place, but he will have to use every scrap of money he has to make up the difference and won't be able to go out, treat himself etc. It might also be the right time to have a chat about the financial arrangements he will have to make after graduation.

Youngest son - restrict access to the Internet to between certain hours. If that does not work, then consider taking away the graphics card or whatever bits of technology are inside the computer to support gaming. If all else fails, sell the big one and get him a small laptop that would work for homework but be useless for gaming.

Otherworld Sun 07-Jul-13 08:25:35

Agree with PPs. Your eldest is an adult and should be taking responsibility for himself by now. Any reasonable person seeing their father doing an extra weekend cleaning job would not be expecting the family to pay for them to swan around.

For DS2 would it be possible to move his computer into a communal area of the house? Still available for homework but what he's doing will be more visible.

sashh Sun 07-Jul-13 12:41:25

If you are paying rent for DS he should at least be living there. If he won't find a local job then tell him to get one in his uni town.

So what if he gets slung out? Not you responsibility.

As for younger DS, it's not the computer that's the problem but the internet, just switch the server off, take it with you if you have to.

Does he have a PC or a laptop? If it's a laptop then take away the charger, he can have as long as the battery lasts (watch out for him buying a second one though)

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