Finally had "the talk" with- difficult child, not the outcome I expected, neither good nor bad

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by Signorina, Jan 4, 2012.

  1. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    My first time on this board but have been posting on PE...if anyone would like the backstory, please PM me or check my back posts....

    H and I decided last night that the suspense and the dread of putting off "the talk" was starting to get to us. Plus difficult child has been pushing the envelope a bit - nothing noteworthy - but annoying nonetheless. He forgot to hit "send" on the text telling us he would not be home for dinner last night, and it kind of propelled us forward into sitting him down to see what his future plans are. After some soul searching, h and I decided to offer to pay his tuition - 5 semesters for a total of $25K, no real strings attached other than pass your classes, go full time, graduate on time. When the 25K is gone, it's gone. Our feeling was that we don't want him to be in a desperate situation money wise...

    We started by explaining that we needed to be "in the know" with his comings and goings and we needed him home on time. No big deal. We proceeded to ask about school...

    He claims not to have his grades...I don't quite believe him...they would've been posted last week and I can't imagine that he wouldn't check.

    We told him we wanted to pay for school and he REFUSED. A TOTAL SHOCK. Doesn't want our money, wants to do it on his own, doesn't want to use his college fund, it's important to him to pay his own way and he "just wants to" and that's his only reason why.

    We gently explained that his college fund was there for him, that going into debt for the sake of doing it on his own would prove nothing, that we did not really care to dictate how he lives in his apartment while he is paying his own rent, that we thought coming up with $18000 per year working part time while in school would be a needless struggle. Tried to explain that we honor and admire his want "to do it on his own for himself," and that he should earn the money and put it aside so he could have a good start to his adult life when he finishes school. That earning the $450 a month or so he needs for rent etc is struggle enough and a challenge he can proud of...

    Honestly, we were grasping at straws (and trying to avoid gasping aloud)by this point...

    Tried to gently explained that losing his dependency status means he loses his dental insurance (he has a history of dental issues and desperately needs his wisdom teeth out) and that it could impact his health insurance if the current health care laws are overturned.

    Also told him we could NOT fill out the FAFSA because of complicated tax/family business issues (plus he would not qualify) and that we could not co sign any student loans.

    H asked him how he paid last semester's tuition & rent etc. He took a private student loan ($2000 At 11%), cashed his own CD early (3000), used his leftover summer earnings ($1500?) and worked at a sub shop. We asked how he planned to pay this semester and he said he wants to cash his other CD (balance of his life's savings that has been in a CD for 6 years!) of which I am the custodian.

    We tried to make his college fund look really appealing, tried over and over again to explain that going into debt would set him back and limit his dreams. That earning his way and SAVING the money he would have spent on tuition would give him a great start. He kept stoically replying that "he wants to do it on his own just because... (he wants to or he knows he CAN etc) We talked about needing financial flexibility to find a good internship and he said ALL internships pay a lot now and pay living expenses! (dubious). He also stated that with his major (chemistry), the starting salary is $80K so he won't have a problem paying his loans once he graduates. (again, dubious) He claims the student loans don't accrue interest until he graduates (doesn't seem right but I don't know) and he doesn't have to begin to pay them until he is out of school for 6 months. (seems legit)

    So, I am stunned. On paper I suppose it looks like an upstanding young man trying to be in control. In the pit of my stomach though - I know it's not right. It just doesn't fly. We had an awesome relationship for so long. I swear to you we are not controlling, rigid mean parents from whom he needs to escape. It's like he is detaching from us. Something is rotten in Denmark - it's just fishy. He's taken off an entire month from work over break. Not the actions of a kid who is anxious to earn his way. I can't put my finger on it. He did swear that no one is helping him financially and no one cosigned the loan.

    And if you've gotten this far...I now have the dilemma of "custodian of the CD". I checked, it's likely not 5000 - it was started with $3850 when he was 13, mostly with money we GIFTED him, plus his allowance money and baby, baptism, 1st communion etc. gifts from aunts, grandparents. I can't quite figure out why he is drawing such a distinction between the CD and his college fund which is also money we essentially gifted him. And the real dilemma is what mother in her right mind would give a drug user $4000 in cash??? (Even if he swears it's for tuition) So, the caveat will be that I will cash the CD and I will write the checks out to the school and his landlord. Or no deal. Which I am sure will go over like a lead balloon. ("but it's MY money..." I can hear him now)

    Also on the minus side, it really hit home that he is not the son he once was. I've begun to lose site of the joyful, motivated, mature young man who was my son and I am not keen on the sullen skateboarder who seems to have replaced him. I love him but feel distant from him if that makes sense.Don't really like him nor do I enjoy his company. I never thought I would be there with my beloved sweet boy.

    I ramble AGAIN...
  2. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Thanks Sig for the update. I have a couple of thoughts... one is that he is making a statement that he wants to be independent and wants no strings attached. Even though you are offering to pay tuition with no strings attached, he knows there are still stirngs attached. To be honest I think most parents do have strings attached to giving a kid money...and in fact should. I mean we should not shell out a lot of money for tuition for a kid who is not willing to do the work.

    So in one way I think this is good... it shows he has some pride in himself that he wants to do this, that he doesn't want to just milk you for whatever he can get out of you. In another way he is rather cocky and reality may hit... and I would be concerned if he is making money some other shadier way... and I too would be bothered that he didn't want my help... his detaching from you.. But I really believe that detachment may just be part of his process of gaining independece. I think sometimes kids (especially boys) who have been really close to their parents have to make the independence break in a more dramatic way.

    As far as the CD... I think I agree with you, let him cash it but you need to see it going to tuition payment.

    The really suspicious part of me still wonders whether he finished the semester and if he is really planning on going next semester. I will be interested to see what his grades are and if he will even tell you or show you.

  3. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Thanks for the input TL...

    it just isn't sitting right...I don't know that I will EVER know what's really going on...and I am sure he will not show us his grades...

    I think it's the SANCTIMONY that is bothering me so much...

    not only that he wants to pay his own way but the rolling of the eyes and the smugness that he will get a high paying internship and then start at 80K right out of school... it just doesn't jive with each other...Know what I mean??

    I went on his roomates twitter feed and saw the picture of last night's bowl full o green kush which is reality check enough for me...

    why is it that when our kids act like idiots - we feel like failed parents?
  4. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I had to google that. I didn't even know what it was. It is not a good sign not to mention incredibly stupid if his roommate is sending out pictures of marijuana on twitter.

    I would definitely make the CD conditional upon seeing the grades and paying the money directly to the college.

  5. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Oh yes, his roommate is a prolific smoker who brags about his latest score on twitter all the time. I sometimes yearn to notify the PD about his twitter account which is public for the world to see. But, IME - those things often I don't. (when you happen upon poop in the road of life - don't kick it...)
  6. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    I agree it doesn't quite sit right and the cockiness would bother me too... but he will get a reality check I am sure. And that $80k a year job won't happen if he is smoking pot all the way through school. He thinks he can keep his grades up but it is a rare pot head who does really well in school. For one thing a lot of pot saps your motivation....

    That feeling like a failed parent you have to work on. :) Really his idiocy is NOT your fault. You have been there for him, obviously love him, have made him a very nice offer and he is still being an idiot. We cannot prevent our kids from doing stupid things... we just have to hope they learn from it.

    I think the not knowing is something that is hard to deal with. I am in that situation with my difficult child. I get snippets of information and then no communication for a few days... and he only answers some of my questions some of the time. So I really don't know how he is doing.... we are going to see him in 10 days and I hope that will help me get a better read...

  7. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    I am sorry Signorina, I cannot come up with a good scenerio in which he would not want his college fund money. Honestly, I do not think he is going to school at all. I think he and his roomie are dealing pot to the college students. That is why they need an apartment near the campus and are not living on the campus. I hope I am wrong.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'm really sorry too about all this. My Mom gut says he doesn't want to take your money because he isn't going to school, like some of the others have said.

    "Birds of a feather stick together." Your son is friend with the boy who sent that pot picture on Twitter because he can relate to him or maybe he thinks it's funny.

    At any rate, I hope things improve for you. This is not your fault. How in the world could it be? Did you raise him to take drugs? Peers become more powerful than parents at some point in time, and I think his time has come...
  9. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm sorry Sig. It doesn't sit right with me either. Honestly I think rejectedmom may be right, I hope not. You have not failed as a mom. You have been a wonderful mom and have done everything in your power to give him every opportunity possible. Our difficult children think they have the world by the tail, especially when they hook up with other difficult children. Everything may look rosy now but it may all come crashing down at some point.

    I suspect he does not want your help because he does not want you to know he either flunked out of school or withdrew. Is there some way you can verify that?

    It's a horribly sick feeling when we suspect something terrible is going on and we have no idea what it is. I've been there, I imagine things that are far worse than they probably are in reality. Whatever is really going on you need to remember that you are not to blame, not one bit.

  10. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest

    So very difficult child is pulling a similar act. Free tuition? No thanks. Huh?!?

    One thought....even if you write the check to the school, please be aware he can likely withdraw/drop and the funds would be returned to him direcly.

    Could you use some to prepay the dentist under an agreement difficult child couldn't get a refund?
  11. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Oh wow-AB-I didn't realize that about refunds...thank you for the heads up.

    None of this makes sense to me ... Days like today I feel like I woke up on Mars and difficult child is a Martian.
  12. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    Thinking of you Sig and hoping there is no real trouble behind the scenes.

  13. pinevalley

    pinevalley Member

    I don't have a kid in college, but isn't there any way that you can have access to your son's grades from school? It would seem like you would have a right to his grades, since you are his parent. You need to know if your son is really going to school the last semester, and what his grades have been. Good luck in dealing with your difficult child.
  14. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    The only way we knew what difficult child's grades were is because I had her college internet password and was able to get on blackboard. They didn't even tell us she was not attending any classes since the second week of school and got all F's. They just took our money and ran.If we knew what was going on we would have pulled her out earlier when we still could have recovered some tuition.

  15. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    No access at all. FERPA law. He's over 18 & any access goes through him. College won't even verify his enrollment regardless of who is paying the bill.

    Conversely-we are required to share every detail of our finances on the FAFSA should our "child" to age 24 want or need to take out subsidized student loans and/or qualify for financial aid because it is presumed parents should contribute.

    Moronic federal govt at work
  16. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest

    I would call the Registrar. Ask what procedure they have for parents accessing grades. If difficult child is a tax dependant, mention that.

    I know if difficult child signs a release, you can get access. Blackboard isn't consistently used by all the classes where difficult child is going.

    If you can manage to forward difficult child's school email to another email, you might find out a lot.
  17. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    been there done that- it's up to difficult child to share anything he wishes to share & no more.

    In september, I contacted the Dean & let them know difficult child was using drugs, likely intended to sell drugs & that we could not support his return to school & would not pay tuition. That we are seriously concerned he is heading for a big fall & gave them the gritty details. I implored that I wanted difficult child to return home & seek treatment.

    They met w difficult child the next day & helped him apply for student loans. Oye
  18. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Are you SURE this isn't 1984 and you are not talking about my brother? Gfgbro would SWEAR that he wanted NO support from my parents, that he was "independent" and would do it his way and how much I was inferior because I had zero problems taking help from my parents and working my tushie off to get academic scholarships. I spent a LOT of years hearing this. My dad's little sis did about the same thing and still will tell anyone who listens how she idd it all on her own. Yeah, with her mommy and brothers both sending ALL the toiletries, home cooked food, grocerys, and clothes, sure she did it "alone".

    They BOTH had to get cash from their parents (bro and aunt) about a day or two before tuition had to be paid or you couldn't go to class anymore. Both my parents and my Gma BOTH got tired of this and just made sure they had the cash when the deadline hit because otherwise it was a scramble to get it out of other accounts. I know the stuff about my aunt because she is 10 yrs younger than my dad and I remember a LOT of my gma's grumblings and my dad's griping about driving five hours round trip to fix her car, patch something, deliver another thing. Gfgbro is only about 2 yrs older than I but he skipped 2 yrs in school so I saw a LOT of what my folks went through to pay for his last minute "OMG I CAN"T PAY AND THEY ARE KICKING ME OUT" calls.

    You son reminds me of them. Sadly, you have NO ability to make him accept that $$. Well, you CAN send the college a check for whatever you want and his name/ssn/student ID on it and they are not going to give it back to you. He could still pay the full amt on top if he was that idiotic. But that is probably NOT the best things for now.

    Let him know the college money is there. That his dreams may just be dreams because there are NOT that many highly paid internships, though chemistry is a field that does have them. But those high paid internships come with background and drug tests AND companies check your social media sites to see who you are = and that big bowl of pot? Is NOT going to get him that fancy internship much less that fancy job. It isn't the stumbling block it used to be in SOME areas, but in MANY it still puts you out of the running for very competitive jobs.

    I DO know a guy who was making 60K a year as a college intern in chemistry way back in the late 80's. I knew the guy really well and saw the paystubs from his job, so I know it was NOT a lie. But the guy I knew was way past incredibly brilliant. In addition, he had family connections. They allowed him to access jobs that most people just can't. I hope your son isn't preparing for a fall, but in some ways you learn more from the fall than from anything else.

    You can't make difficult child see reality. the world will do that soon enough. Continue to deny him access to your finances because he sounds like the type would would abuse the info to do things like identity theft when times get hard. LOTS of kids see that as "easy" and "no one gets hurt" esp if they "just" do it to mom and dad. in my opinion you have done all you can. School, life, supporting himself, those are now his jobs and he has made it clear he wants nothing from you in that way.

    Long term planning isn't something teens do. So the benefits of using his trust vs loans isn't going to mean much. But don't give him that cd straight out - write the checks to the school and if he says it is "his money" tell him that you are paying "his bills" with hit and that YOUR name is on that acct also for this very reason. I would tell him straight out that you won't hand a drug user money, esp not that much. Just not happening. You don't have to tiptoe around it. He clearly uses at least pot (and if they admit that, they almost always are using more) and you won't support it with any resources you have control over. If he objects, I am sure that their is an age clause and he can just wait until he is old enough to access the money with-o your approval. It is what it is.
  19. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest

    Sig...Dean sounds sadly predictable.

    I called ATF and told them where my difficult child was buying alcohol underaged. Then I described what he had told me about the dorms....and they said they knew all that and more but the college wouldn't allow them on campus. Jeeezzzzzz

    At least they said they would go try to catch some of the places I shared with them. Might make it harder for other difficult children to be stupid.
  20. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Just be aware that this is almost the same thing as giving him the cash.
    He'll sign up for the semester, you'll pay, he'll withdraw - and the funds will go to HIM, not to you.
    (gfgbro thought up lots of schemes like this...)