Friday, March 20, 2009

Tough Love is So Hard To Give

I am frustrated with my 20 year-old son, Justin. It seems he is seriously lacking in the responsibility department in regards to college and/or getting a job. Not only did he lose his financial aid just because he didn't stay focused and attend class normally. But, he will not get a job for some of his basic needs...and wants. Justin is a bright boy, at least he used to be. He always made good grades in school and never had to study. Yet, his grade point average in college has dropped below a 2.0, not because he is not smart, but because he didn't attend half the time AND THEN he didn't drop any of those classes before acquiring an "F"! Yes, he has dreams of being a rock star. Doesn't practically every young boy? But he needs to show a little responsibility. I don't want to squash his dreams. But he's got to have a backup plan. It's not like his band is getting gigs every weekend. They have yet to get their first paying one. And they've only had one or two that were just for fun.

He has had a couple of jobs, but they only lasted a month or two. He worked at Dollar General for a short time, and he worked at Walmart for about a month and a half. He said he hated the jobs. He didn't want to be like everybody else and just settle for whatever he could find. He didn't want to give up on his dreams.

And then there are his friends who are either very rich (and therefore don't have to work), or their parents or grandparents provide everything for them. I refuse to keep doing that! Also, when his college status dropped below full-time, he was dropped from my insurance. So now he is an unemployed, uninsured, mooching individual. What's a mom to do?!!!

What happened along the way? He was so smart! Have I not been strict enough on him? (Probably not) My best friend tells me to lay down the law to him and tell him he has to get a job to start supporting himself. She says to quit giving him money for things he wants to driving an hour away to see his girlfriend. And while I am on that subject, he says they are planning on getting married this December!!! WHAT?!!! How is he going to pull THAT off?!! When he first mentioned it I thought, "Okay. Now, he will have to get a job." But, that was over a month ago, and nothing has changed.

I love him so much. He's my firstborn. As babies we don't want them to grow up, but once they get grown, we want them to finally see the light and GROW UP, for Heaven's sake. I know I need to start practicing tough love. But, it is so hard for me to do because I love him so much. But, it's because I love him that I have to do this. I have to teach him to be a responsible adult. I don't want him to end up like some people I know who never work and are content to mooch off of others because I know with his smarts that he could do very well for himself.

Have any of you ever dealt with this? If so, how have you handled it, and what were the results? Even if you haven't gotten to this point with your children, what advice would you give? Stay tuned for updates on this situation. And, pray that his dad and I handle this situation the way that we, as parents, should. I hope it all turns out well.


bettyl said...

Oh, dear. Listen to your best friend. Did anybody let you lay around the house and do nothing? Somehow I doubt it.

It's hard but you need to remember that you are raising RESPONSIBLE ADULTS, not happy children. Give him an ultimatum--get a job or get out-- and STICK WITH IT!

Iva said...

Well girlie...let me tell you, I am a 32 yr old wife and mother who went down the road your boy is traveling. I, too, was a smart gal but chose to drop out of school during my second year. I got married. Had two kids. And then I got a clue.

I'll be starting back to school in May to get my bachelors in special education.

I know what he's thinking - and can I just say -- I wish I could smack some sense into your boy?

Tough love is called that for a reason. It'll be harder on you than him, but it's got to be done. Otherwise, come December, you're going to gain a new daughter to support!

Sandra Rowell said...

I know you are both right. But, like my post title states, it's SO hard to do! No one ever said that parenting was easy! The problems just get bigger the older the kids get. And Iva, you are exactly right when you said that it would be harder on me than it will on him.

I got married right out of high school, but I also went to work! I only wish I had listened to my parents and went on to college first. I ended up going back later, after I started having kids, and it was so much harder. But I did it. I got my degree. I just want him to learn from my experience.

I'm gonna sit down with him tomorrow and have a long, hard talk with him. I'll let you know what transpires.

Thanks for your input!

Iva said...

Oh man! Don't we all wish we would have listened to our mamas and daddies when we were younger?

Good luck. You can do it. (From what I've read of your blog, you're tough :) )

Paula and Skip said...

Hi there, I had to learn on the hard way too that sometimes love and loyalty is NOT giving him what he wants. Give him an ultimatum, stick to hit. Whatever happens - HE HAS TO ROCK BOTTOM - before he will be ready to act. You may complain about his irresponsibility but you will nourish exact that if you carry on supporting him. I have learnt to call such acts: detachment with love" I wish you guys all the best, send you all my strength. I know from experience it can be done. He may not do what you want, wont fullfill your expectations and and not in the time you imagine - but it will happen. Let GO. Paula xx

Sandra said...

I'm trying. He's been up in his room all day. I haven't even seen him. I just worry because mental illness runs on his dad's side of the family. I wonder if this could be part of his problem? I'm not making excuses for him, I just worry.

Iva said...

Of course you're not making excuses for him :) You're rationalizing...'certainly no boy of mine could be THIS lazy and unmotivated.'

The mental illness thing is a tough one. It's in my family...and sometimes I wonder if I 'have' it...but I think I am just lazy (at times) and unmotivated.

Ryan Ashley Scott said...

Just read this AFTER reading your post about the pregnancy. Oh, dear.

I can tell you this. It will be easier for you to let him support himself now, before the baby comes, than afterward. Because afterward, he'll have leverage. My aunt has been going through a similar situation with her son since he had his baby 4 years ago. They gave him everything he wanted and needed to live on, and once that ran out, he moved back in with them. I think it's the hardest thing in the world... letting your child make his own way. I struggle with that now and my son is only 3. It is SO hard and it will only get harder, I know. My prayers are with you, Sandy, for God to keep a hand on your shoulder through this steep stairway.