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Old 06-14-2007, 08:26 AM
 
Location: Sherman Oaks, CA
5,063 posts, read 9,864,995 times
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Default How to motivate a 19-year-old?!

My son is going to be 19 in July. He has a D+ average after a year of college. He took the same math class twice with different professors, and withdrew from both because he was failing. He just failed his Spanish class and got a "C" in history. I'm ready to tear my hair out in complete frustration. He's not working part time (although he is looking for a job). He doesn't have a car, because I refuse to pay for the insurance, gas, etc. He spends his spare time on his computer (that he paid for with money that his grandfather had saved for him) and with his friends.

How do I light a fire under him?!

By contrast, his older sister is going to UC Berkeley. Her first semester there she ended up with one "C", and three "B"s. She's the shining star, no doubt, and she's extremely motivated.

I don't expect my son to be exactly like her. I do expect him to step up and take on some real responsibility. How much time should I give him? He can't support himself, not even with a roommate, on minimum wage.

I've asked him what he plans to do with his life. You know what he said? He wants to play poker!!! I tried to tell him that if playing poker and making a living at it were so easy, we'd all be doing it! He won't listen, of course. Help?!
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Old 06-14-2007, 08:42 AM
 
Location: The Great State of Arkansas
5,982 posts, read 10,635,544 times
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First of all, I have a 27-year-old who played poker for a living for about 2 years. This is the same child that cannot string together three written words to make a cohesive sentence due to a learning disability. He would have made it his life's work until he started getting the pants beat off of him. Two years - one year on a cloud, and one year tumbling down. Make SURE your child doesn't already have an addiction - that was why mine got out.

I am assuming you are paying for his college education? No more. He can get a loan for it. When he flunks out and drops out and the bill still comes due, he'll figure it out.

Put his butt out. I can't say it any more plainly. I think boys are pretty horrendous for the most part until they are 23 or so. We had to put the younger one out. Help yours find an apartment on the bus line. Put up the deposit if you feel so inclined, help him get the utilities hooked up - and then he's on his own.

He CAN support himself. He may have to work two jobs to do it, but he can do it. He is young. He is teachable. Do not put up with his BS or he will be sitting at home at 28 still saying he doesn't know what he wants to be.

My spouse gave my son 60 days to pull his life together when he was 20. He didn't do it. We packed his stuff into boxes and set it outside the garage. He was surprised, to say the least....he griped and moaned and we had quite the scene in the front yard, but by the time it was over he had a friend on the way to come get him. He crashed here and there for a while until he decided we were serious.....then the poker started for a couple of years. He could see he was headed for problems and had the good sense to give it up. He had bought a cruddy car in the meantime - he sold it, got two jobs, rode the bus, and we helped get him started on an apartment by himself.

Today he is 27. He has a Nissan Maxima he paid cash for. He is in a managerial position with a credit card fraud company. He rents a house with his brother, who is an attorney. He pays his bills and minds his own business, but he will be the first to tell you - had we not cut him off, he'd still be playing poker or saying he couldn't figure out what to do with himself and living off us.

Tough love is very real, it's just not practiced often enough. Remember that your son is old enough to fight a war - he is not a baby anymore. He's not being drafted to go to Iraq, he's being asked to get a clue. If the military considers him to have enough brain to defend the country, he can support himself...you do not have to. He is a man. Make him act like one. I wish we had started at 18 with mine - hindsight is 20/20.
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Old 06-14-2007, 09:30 AM
 
Location: Glendive, MT
7,392 posts, read 8,243,871 times
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I completely agree with Sam....I have 3 teens, and an 8 year old, with the oldest at 17....the two older have been unmotivated in high school, and it will effect their ability to attend school after high school. It's not horrible, they're passing with Cs and Ds, but their ability is beyond that! It's very frustrating to see what they're capable of, yet not living to that standard. However, you have to be strong and set the guidelines, even if the kid fails. He'll get back up! My almost 16 year old hasn't taken driver's ed yet, because I won't pay for it until the grades come up. My 17 year old flunked a class one quarter this past year, and was off the cheering squad because of it. She hasn't had a problem passing since then! The lessons are hard, but they're best learned young. I will say though, sometimes it's hard to "stick to your guns", but it's the best thing you can do... Good luck!

Last edited by mollysmiles; 06-14-2007 at 09:31 AM.. Reason: fingers....
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Old 06-14-2007, 09:42 AM
 
Location: Bridgeville,Pa
4,177 posts, read 6,957,303 times
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I am a mum of two, but also a boss of 5. Two of my employees have had problems with poker. One was 21, living at home but always called in sick on a monday. Then he was surprised when I fired him for not showing up. Seemingly he thinks he can make enough playing poker.
The second employee also took time off, never came in a few days and we didnt hear from him until it was friday and payday. He was told, screw up again and you do not come back.
He has been in ever since.
Tough love is very hard, but very necessary. Eventually the kids will understand.
dorothy
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Old 06-14-2007, 10:13 AM
 
Location: Happiness is found inside your smile :)
3,177 posts, read 9,896,046 times
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Who pays for his computer - if it's you - TAKE IT AWAY

Second - tell him it's time to pay for rent. If he can't hack it in school then he's not allowed a free ride. Give him a contract that says start paying within 60 days or you are out.

Stop coddling him - I know it's hard but you aren't helping him by trying to "light a fire under his butt" you are actually a CRUTCH and being completely co-dependant.
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Old 06-14-2007, 12:49 PM
 
1,794 posts, read 5,209,477 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SandyCo View Post
My son is going to be 19 in July. He has a D+ average after a year of college. He took the same math class twice with different professors, and withdrew from both because he was failing. He just failed his Spanish class and got a "C" in history. I'm ready to tear my hair out in complete frustration. He's not working part time (although he is looking for a job). He doesn't have a car, because I refuse to pay for the insurance, gas, etc. He spends his spare time on his computer (that he paid for with money that his grandfather had saved for him) and with his friends.
How do I light a fire under him?!
By contrast, his older sister is going to UC Berkeley. Her first semester there she ended up with one "C", and three "B"s. She's the shining star, no doubt, and she's extremely motivated.
I don't expect my son to be exactly like her. I do expect him to step up and take on some real responsibility. How much time should I give him? He can't support himself, not even with a roommate, on minimum wage.
I've asked him what he plans to do with his life. You know what he said? He wants to play poker!!! I tried to tell him that if playing poker and making a living at it were so easy, we'd all be doing it! He won't listen, of course. Help?!
I have a few ideas. First, I'll frame by stating that I was a pretty "average" to "poor" performer in college and even high school (I never flunked out, but my gpa was always far from where it should be in my assessment) this was even though I was pegged to have incredible intelligence and problem solving ability from a very young age and whenever tested there after. All I can think of is the following - I was lazy. Too lazy to study, too lazy to do homework - heck too lazy to really do much of anything really well or as well as I knew I could. It was in contrast to another family member who became a star student starting in high school and continues through to today as an overachiever in a lot of things but especially in the academic world.

Once I went out on my own things changed radically for the better (but you need to realize I did this on my own volition, I wasn't pushed out the door at all). I really stepped up to do all the things that my parents had pushed me to do but which I basically ignored all of my young to young-adult life. With all that behind me my ideas are the following:

1) get your son out of college before he flunks out. He's simply not ready for it. Call it what you will but he hasn't achieved the life-wisdom or maturity to take advantage of it. Unfortunately, once you flunk out or have several years of mediocre performance behind you your scholastic record will hold you back throughout your future. So, get him out now - there must be something to the effect of a leave of absense you can get him filed as - so he can go back at a later time to the same school if he chooses.

2) I've never been a big fan of a parent charging their child "rent" nor with cutting them off/kicking them out of the house. Although I know of at least 5 situations where this happened, in none of the 5 was there a "happy ending" in which the child got themselves out of the rut they were in. In each of the situations the kid as an adult today works hard for very little money or not so very hard for even less - the relationship with their parents is strained, and they didn't continue on to college, and honestly they represent a relative disappointment considering their middle-to-upper-middle class upbringings. All that said, I think it would be better to help encourage your son to do what he wants to do - seriously encourage and support him. You never know, perhaps he'll excel at poker! Wouldn't you rather be a part of his success and learning rather than an obstacle to what interests him. You don't have to candy-coat things, but you can support him as though this is his academic pursuit. Obviously out of college you'll have limited need to support his lifestyle (don't cut him off, but don't pay for everything - find something reasonable in the middle so you aren't setting him up to fail, but you are able to demonstrate the importance of contributing). Give it a year or two - continue to communicate with him and track progress - and help him understand that you're watching for it, supporting him, and trying to help him - it's not you vs him. Then encourage him to go back to college (and help him to) when he really identifies an interest area to pursue.

3) Stop comparing him to his sister and stop trying to treat them alike (they're completely different and as you've learned, they respond in different ways to your parenting style). It may be hard to accept, but every child is born with certain abilities, mentally and physically - and also different psychological needs. Even if two brilliant people get married, sometimes one or more of their children don't have the gray matter in their head to be equals - it's called genetic variability. Every set of parents of multiple children have a "shining star" - it could be innate ability or the reaction of the parenting style, or something else completely at stake.

19 years old is not that old - it's old enough to get into a world of trouble with over-confidence about what you think you know about life, but most mistakes made at this age can be reversed. I would say you need to focus upon this type of "damage control" since you, and others reading your post know that academic career is pretty important in the long run... you don't want to mess it up. It seems that already your son has been involved in something you know nothing or little about - for whatever reason he didn't share it with you before the academic evidence was sent your way. You need to bridge this communications issue now, before it becomes more serious. You need to work on assuring him that you support him and his interests - that you're a friend as well as his parent and have nothing but his best interests in mind. He might have a gambling addiction - he might not. But in any situation, it would benefit if he was actually talking with you regularly and opening about what he's up to.

I don't think anyone's answers here are perfect for you, mine included, but hopefully it's good food for thought. I hope the best for you and your family.
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Old 06-14-2007, 02:41 PM
 
Location: Phoenix...until next week, then Maryland...tick tock tick tock
169 posts, read 414,144 times
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Hmm. Well I understand what mbuszu is saying, but I can't say I agree. Not every kid responds well to being cut off & kicked out.

However, in my experience, nothing slaps one out of laziness/procrastination like a big fat nasty deadline.

I don't see an issue with charging him rent. If he's not passing college, then why is he getting a free ride? Ok, if he's going to school & working hard at it, then the free room & board is a perk... You're supporting him in his endeavor to finish his education, which should better his life (theoretically). However, he's not working, he's not even passing college (the 1st year is cake, if he's failing the basics, he's in for a world of trouble later on!) so what exactly are you supporting him in right now? Hanging out with friends & screwing around on the computer? Um, is anyone paying your bills so you can do that? I know no one does that for me, so why do you do it for him? What is he doing to better himself or prepare himself for "real life"? Yeah, he's young, but I'm only 10 years older & I've got people telling me right & left how "young" I am...& no one is paying my bills!

What he's doing is not ok & it's not productive. Since he's showing a lack of motivation to change it, it's kinda up to you as the parent to enact some sort of change in your house.

...IMO

Good luck...
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Old 06-14-2007, 03:04 PM
 
Location: Happiness is found inside your smile :)
3,177 posts, read 9,896,046 times
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PS - although I am a girl

When I was 19 - I didn't live at home (didn't start college til age 23), I worked full time and paid my own rent!! I made my own food and took care of the bills - never ever late!

19 is young but he's not a child. Unless you keep letting him act like one.
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Old 06-14-2007, 03:10 PM
 
Location: South Bay Native
9,709 posts, read 13,227,262 times
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Sam I Am said it best - ditto to all of it for me. I tried to give rep points but it said I have to spread the love around a bit first....

It took the act of my mom putting my brother's stuff in front of the garage door and telling him hasta la bye-bye for him to really let it sink in that my parents meant it when they had expectations of him as an adult (18+) under their roof, and if he didn't abide by the rules then go find his own place and HE makes the rules there. I think boys have a higher tendency to be lazy and unproductive (whether it is societal/environmental or instinctual is up for debate I'm sure) and they need to know you MEAN IT.

I agree with the deadline - and you do not want to know what I would do to my son if he was flunking the first year of college and playing poker with his friends. Once your kids hit 18 you technically owe them NOTHING - and don't believe that he wouldn't survive with a roomie and a part time job. But if you're very worried, then you must charge for his staying with you. A contract is in order. You may be thinking that your son will feel betrayed or forsaken; it may seem draconian to many parents (especially based on what I see nowadays) but your role isn't "best friend", "buddy" or "pal" - it is "parent". You must show the way to your children's self-sufficiency and independence. You don't have to be cruel, but you have to be firm. As a child and a teen, I may not have agreed with every measure my parents took, but in hindsight, I see that the structure they had for us was the best thing that could happen to me, and I am forever grateful to them for not wimping out as parents. We have maintained such a close relationship that I literally see my folks 5-6 days a week.

The same cannot be said for the friends I had in HS whose parents were pushovers - they have become the underachievers, terminal apartment dwellers and terminally indebted financially, strippers, and drug abusers of this generation.
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Old 06-14-2007, 03:43 PM
 
6,586 posts, read 16,008,940 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DontH8Me View Post
The same cannot be said for the friends I had in HS whose parents were pushovers - they have become the underachievers, terminal apartment dwellers and terminally indebted financially, strippers, and drug abusers of this generation.
Wow, so true. Put him out. People will take you as far as you let them.

(P.S. My mom still supports my 45 year old brother who had a tiny tiny microscopic bit of success in the music biz in the late 80s and now says because of that he can't "just work anywhere" because it would be beneath him.)
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