Older Child Problem

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by DaddyW, Sep 17, 2012.

  1. DaddyW

    DaddyW New Member

    Hello everyone,

    I am new so if I posted this in the wrong place I do apologize.

    My wife and I have a child who has entered college and is age 18. She graduated from a private highschool with honors and is studying on a pre-medication track. She bugged us to send her to that school. She lives at home and goes to a university in our town, she even has a full ride scholarship. She has been a mostly wonderful child growing up. She has been an excellent student and very well behaved, the kind of kid everybody would rely on as she was always very mature.

    About the time she entered college this fall, she started to say things like she never felt like she really had the chance to be a kid or have a social life. She has become very short with her mother (my wife) and I and just as if she is going through a rebellious stage most kids go through at at 13 to 16. She is never around and hangs out with younger kids...highschool kids which is not such a big deal but her first chemistry quiz, she got a 72%. That is not bad if you are not on a specialized track but she cannot afford those kinds of grade if she hopes to get into medical school. Also, she does not have a job and we are not requiring her to as long as her grades are up there. The problem is she will drive her car 70 miles round trip just to go and hang out with her friends on a daily basis and gas is not cheap. When we try to confront her, she becomes very short and runs off.

    Her Meyers-Briggs personality profile is ENFJ. She is also an only child.

    I know there are probably many details I am overlooking but that is for starters. Anything any of you can offer, I will be very appreciative.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2012
  2. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Welcome, DaddyW. I'm only on the Board for a few minutes so I can't say much (you're likely lucky because and I can go on and on and on, lol). You have found a wonderful support system. Many of us have had gifted teens take nose dives and many many more have had "normal" teens who did the same thing. You'll get input from others soon. I don't have the answers but I have way too much experience. Hang in there. DDD
  3. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome,
    I usually post over in the Substance Abuse Forum, but I have a now-22 y/o easy child daughter who also went to a private HS and was a mostly terrific child, with a few bumps along the way.
    From what I gather in your post, it's kind of too early to tell how things will go. My daughter and I had a very close relationship until she hit puberty, then it was awful, then we became very close again when she was about 19. She had to mature a little and she had to detach from me a little. She remained very close with her Dad, however. In our unique situation, our family was also going thru difficulties and chaos due to my son's substance abuse and defiance.
    If your daughter can confide in another trusted adult (older cousin, aunt) confidentially to blow off steam, or alternatively to a counselor, that would be great if she was open to that. My sister in law and I both have daughters the same age, and we used to say to them, "I am not the enemy!" It wasn't funny then, but it seems funny now. Being an only child, I'm sure your daughter felt scrutinized and somewhat pressured to excel. She probably put more pressure on herself than you ever did. First year of college, particularly the first semester, is a tough adjustment and they feel the pressure of expectations, yet they want the freedom to do what they want. They're getting older and realizing the world isn't so small anymore.
    Keep an eye on her behavior and grades. She has a full ride based on her intelligence and work ethic. I hope she will not jeapordize it. Let her know she can talk to you, be calm, loving and understanding. However, you do not have to pay for 70 mile round trip gas excursions for her to meet with her friends during the school week. Gas is close to $4/gallon near me, and I just don't have that kind of money to burn. The grade on the Chemistry test reflects the level of preparedness required in college and her commitment to this program has to be reflected in her industriousness to get the grades she needs. This is not the time to wimp out and complain about a lack of childhood and social life! By default, medical students and interns sacrifice a youthful social life for their future career. She has to want good grades and that career path more than she wants to hang out and she has to balance both. You can't be a monk and a debutante simultaneously!
    Good luck, keep posting, hope we're helpful.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there. You may want to post on Parent Emeritus (older children with problems).

    Are you sure she isn't using drugs with her high school friends? Does she have ANY friends in college? Any influential boyfriend who may not be the best? Does she have any financial responsibility at all?

    I think she could be involved in some stuff that kids tend to start earlier, but she didn't do until now. Was she allowed to hang out with her friends when she was in high school? Is it possible that she really doesn't want to go to pre-medication? I have a niece who started out pre-medication and has changed to radiologist...she just got tired of always studying and never having the fun that other kids had. She is still going into a good field, her grades are still good, but she just isn't going to be a doctor.

    Was the private high school she went to fairly restrictive and tough on rules? Maybe she is sowing her wild oats now that she can. I'm still wondering about drugs/alcohol.
  5. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    It is possible she is truly just **ssed off she did not get to have 'the childhood she thinks she missed'. Whatever that is. I say try to get her to open up about that more. She likely spoke to new classmates that had a different lifestyle and thinks she missed out on something.
  6. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome. My first reaction is that perhaps she is feeling the 'burden of expectation' along with the first blush of freedom, one can feel like a noose tightening around your neck, the other, some (perhaps well deserved) breathing room. Only children place very high expectations on themselves, as often we as their parents do as well. She is at a tender age going through a very large transition. It can be terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time, and as young people, we don't have the experience to contain all of those feelings within us. So, kids act out, that may be what she is doing.

    Transitions are tough, for any of us, and there is so much riding on her doing well, it makes sense to me that there might be a form of regression, the hanging out with younger kids and being short with you two. Perhaps, as CJ mentioned, getting her to someone she can confide in, someone other then you and your wife, may be very helpful to give her a voice, a way of expressing what she's feeling, what she's going through. Unfortunately, our kids don't always confide in us. She may feel that way because she doesn't want to disappoint you. As an ENFJ she is also a giver and having a similar predisposition myself, a big lesson is to learn to take care of your own needs as well as others, so it may be difficult for her to identify her own needs and be able to verbalize them., hence, the acting out.

    My go to place is always therapy because that's what worked best for me, so I would encourage that. However, I recognize that is not THE answer, but I do sense that she may benefit greatly from someone neutral to be able to talk to, to really express her fears, her expectations, her angers, all of it. I wish you success in finding solutions for your daughter. And, keep posting, it helps........
  7. Anxworrier

    Anxworrier New Member

    Daddyw, I was also a great student in a good private high school and didn't act out at all in high school. I was a dancer and spent my evenings dancing or studying. One possibility too is that she has finally gotten out of her high school environment, and now sees freedom ahead of her but maybe also sees friends new or old who live on campus and have that freedom that she doesn't quite have living under your roof? Maybe she is frustrated wanting the full college experience.nbut of course she must know that if she doesn't perform well, things arent going to go her way. Yes she has been a good kid til now, that doesn't give her free reign to let it all go now. Good luck! Keep posting, it is a good relief valve!
  8. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    As others have said, she is middle of a big transformation. It is tough for kids. Those college classes are probably a big change from high school classes. I'm not from USA but I think it tends to be same everywhere. Style of teaching, what is asked for, grading etc. all changes. Kids who have used to getting perfect marks find out they are not able to do it any more, at least not as easily and not from the beginning. In our Universities kids are often graded mostly based on one final exam, especially in basic classes, more advanced are often graded by projects etc. they do. And kids are allowed to take those exams again if they fail or are not happy with their grade. First exam results for incoming students are usually brutal. I have seen results, there 200 kids took the exam and 30 passed, five of them getting five (best grade), other five getting middle grades and rest twenty getting one (worst passing grade), all the others failed. Expectations and how one should answer the questions, how to study etc. change so much from high school to next level that it often takes a little bit time for kids to get a handle of it. Your daughter seems driven, she will most likely get a handle of it quickly. Just now she could maybe use some encouragement and you telling her that she can make it, if she wants to. Not being a smartest kid in the room any more may be a little shock for her and she may doubt her abilities. Of course she may also decide that pre-medication is not for her and change to something else.

    Are you able to have a candid talk about how she feels about her peers? Wanting to spend time with younger kids tells me that she may feel little bit out of water with her peers. Are most of her college peers living in dorms? That can make it difficult for her to include herself to their activities. Or maybe she feels their interests are different? If she has lived sheltered life till now, her college peers may feel to wild for her. With High School aged kids she may feel being in stronger footing. Maybe you could try to encourage her to find some extracurricular activities in her college. Some club that plays to her interests. She may have difficult time making friends in classes and if it seems to her that others are making friends somewhere else (like dorms), she may find it difficult to feel included.

    How is student health care in her college? Do they have any counselling services? That could be her best option right now. Those counsellors have seen all types of 'settling into college life' problems and are probably well-equipped to advise her on how to get more comfortable with college life.
  9. allhaileris

    allhaileris Crumbling Family Rock

    I was a late bloomer and hung out with younger people right after college. That was the age that my maturity just hit that point of needing to go out and have some fun, and not in the best of ways. I never got in trouble for anything I did, but I very well could have. I was a great kid through HS and most of my college years. I look back at it now and wish I'd have gone to college for a couple more years just to get that experience, knowing how I matured and when I hit certain points. But you know what, I needed all that experience. I needed to go through what I went through in order to become who I am now. I wouldn't change those experiences at all.

    I guess I'm saying give her some space to be "bad". Let her be irresponsible, this is the only time in her life she'll get this pass to do so. She's young and is allowed to do stupid things and she needs to learn from them. If she was always a good kid, she still has that in her. She'll still make sure she's safe and probably wont do anything super dumb.

    Does she really want to go to medical school? Has she looked into anything else? One of the reasons I wish I had more time in college is to be able to take a variety of classes and get my feet wet doing other things. I had a very narrow focus in school, I was determined that I'd get a job in the TV/Film industry in LA. What happened? I did internships and decided I didn't really like some of the stuff. I didn't want to get paid minimum wage. I got tired of LA and moved to NorCal. I did end up working in the entertainment industry in a way (event services for concerts, nightclubs, performing arts groups) but got tired of that too, plus the pay wasn't great. I kept teaching myself and now I work for a money manager and do a variety of things, because I'm self motivated. I wish now I would've gone to school for computer programming. I took a C++ class a few years back (just for the fun of it) and it was pretty easy for my brain to pick that up.

    Make her try some other things in school. If she doesn't want to study that hard now, or is trying to get used to the transition, give her some breathing room and have her take easier classes.

    And she's driving 70 miles to see her friends because it's in an environment that she can have fun and relax. It's away from you, school, her responsibilities. When I was depressed I'd do the same thing, drive home on the weekends to hang out with friends of a different group (my mom was never home). And if she's being short with you, doesn't want to study, etc, maybe there is some depression going on as well.