Rules/Curfews for College-Age difficult children when at Home

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by WearyWoman, Jul 25, 2012.

  1. WearyWoman

    WearyWoman Guest

    JT, our oldest difficult child, is 18 and heading off to his first year of college next month. He is very bright and mechanically inclined, and he has chosen a good field. He will be living on campus in the dorms. Currently, he has a summer construction job and lives with us. The issue we're having is that he consistently pushes limits with his curfew. Here is the situation:

    We have established a 10 p.m. curfew on weeknights, as he has to be up at 5 a.m. for his job. On weekends, his curfew is later - usually midnight. He had problems immediately with his curfew at the start of summer, often coming home 30 minutes late and having a million excuses, i.e. truck didn't start right away, lost his phone and had to look for it before he left, etc. Usually, he is spending time at his girlfriend's house, and she is still in high school living with her parents. Her parents like JT and having him there. JT has significant difficulty planning and organizing, due to his ADHD, for which he still takes medication. Unfortunately, the medication is no longer working well at that time of night. So . . . we have determined that the problem is JT is not planning to leave at a proper time, leaving too late, and thus, ending up coming home late. Now, we have it set up that instead of telling him he needs to be home at a certain time, that he needs to leave at a certain time, which would theoretically get him home on time. If we leave it up to him to decide when to leave, he always leaves too late. So, now, he is to call home at the time he is scheduled to leave and then leave immediately so he can get home on time. Well, he's managed to figure out how to abuse that. As an example, last night, he was supposed to call home at 9:30 p.m. and then leave his girlfriend's in order to be home by 10:00 p.m. He didn't call at 9:30 p.m. He called at 9:40 p.m. Had he left at 9:40 p.m., he probably would have still made it home by 10:00 p.m., however, he didn't leave at 9:40 p.m. He ended up getting home around 10:07 p.m. Now, I know it's only a matter of minutes past his curfew, but I still consider this behavior to be pushing limits.

    To make matters worse, JT is very bright and manipulative. He knows how to push trigger buttons and draw us into power struggles with him. He came in the door last night, smug, arms folded and said sarcastically, "I'm sorry I was 5 minutes late!" I told him that was unacceptable, as was the fact that he didn't call at the pre-agreed upon time, as was the fact that he then didn't leave as he was supposed to at that time. He continued to argue that he "left" at 9:40 (he was supposed to leave at 9:30), but later acknowledged that he hadn't actually left his girlfriend's property, he had only left the house and was talking with her in the driveway before he actually left the premises.

    Knowing JT was late, husband was angry before JT ever came in the door. He got involved in the argument and told JT he was disappointed in him for not following through as we had agreed. JT yelled that it wouldn't be the first time husband was disappointed in him. You can see the tidal wave coming now. It escalated with husband raising his voice and telling JT that he was late and did not follow a simple direction. JT then threatened to leave the house and not come back. This is not the first time he has threatened this, and quite frankly, I think it's emotional manipulation. JT does have an inflated sense of his own abilities and typically overestimates himself (thinks he can win competitions without preparation, believes he is the "best welder in the state", etc., when actual results/reality don't support this).

    husband ended up talking JT down, apologizing for losing his temper, and getting JT to apologize as well. I also apologized, and we all agree that we needed to get some sleep and handle things differently next time. Of course, today I feel so drained and depressed. I'm upset with husband and JT and me.

    I have been looking forward to JT going off to college in many ways because this sort of drama is getting old. I'm exhausted from arguing with JT about everything. He thinks he knows it all, and he is so disrespectful, inconsiderate, and irresponsible right now. We are his external brain, and I wonder how he'll fare without us there to watch over him all the time.

    I'm posting because I would like your input on rules and curfews for college-age kids who are home on weekends or for summers. I have read a lot online about this, and I'm shocked how many parents have no curfews at all or extremely late times like 3:30 a.m., etc. I'm not comfortable with that because I just think those times of night invite trouble. Nothing good is happening at 2 a.m. I live in a state that has a serious problem with alcohol. What is reasonable regarding curfews for difficult children and similarly, what is a reasonable consequence for breaking curfew?

    Secondly, since we are financing the majority of difficult child's education costs, is it reasonable to expect that he be involved in campus activities? I believe that his being plugged in will benefit him academically and socially. JT is a very good runner (has run all four years in high school, performing at a high level), and he has been recruited for the college cross country and track teams. Since he graduated high school in May, he has taken every opportunity not to do his running workouts that he can, and he constantly states that he is only running to please us - that he doesn't want to identify himself as a runner. This is hurtful to husband (a running coach for years) who helped him become so successful in high school. JT certainly enjoys all the medals and recognition he's received over the years, and I believe this is again a manipulation of some sort. If he really doesn't want to be on the running teams in college, that would be alright with us, but we feel strongly he should at least do it his first year to give it a chance. Then, if he doesn't want to continue, at least he'll have had the experience of being on the team and meeting other students and forming friendships, etc. If he isn't on the team, we would like him to be involved in some other campus activity or to have a job on campus, because we think too much idle time is not good for him. Since he has committed to being on the team this fall, isn't it reasonable to expect that he follow through by doing the running workouts expected by that team? I'm tired of hearing him say that he's doing us a favor by running.

    Finally, we have real concerns about JT's ability to handle money. He spends everything he has all the time. He is quite impulsive. We've set up a bank account for him, and only a portion of his work checks get deposited in it, with the rest going to our savings account to pay toward his college costs. I can see that money will be a source of stress in our relationship with him.

    Thanks for listening.
  2. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Welcome. Based on my experience parenting too many teens I completely understand that you and your husband are trying to help him structure his life successfully. on the other hand, sigh, you are at the beginning of a parenting mine field. in my humble opinion nobody can give you suggestions that are likely to work for your family.

    Historically my brother, two sisters and I all went to college in the 1950/1960 era. We came from a structured, religious, fun loving environment. None of us were given a curfew. We all turned out aok. We did, however, give an approximate time when we expected to get home and called our Mom if there was a change of plans. Some of us were A students and high achievers and some of us were party people...each of us evolved into adults.

    When my children went to college there were NO restrictions at the dorms or the sorority houses. They had TOTAL freedom and some of them made good choices while others didn't. The ADHD kids, by the way, stopped taking their medications. Most of them are easy child adults raising easy child children.

    Parents have next to no control once the kids go off to school. I think it is a learning process for the teens that should begin at home before they are in a new environment. My personality makes it difficult for me to give up structure, power or control. It was difficult but for my family it was best that I adapted before they headed out of town. Good luck. DDD
  3. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    With all due respect, I think you are not giving him the ability to make choices on how much sleep he needs, etc. When he leaves home at the end of August to go away to school, you are not going to be there to make sure he is home at a particular time or wakes up in time to get to his first class. In my opinion, especially given that your son does not carry a miriad of comorbid disorders with his adhd, he should be trusted to make some of these decisions for himself while still living at home. That way you and dad are there to discuss when something is not working for him or guide him gentely through the steps. If he never does on his own, he never learns and mistakes can often be more serious.

    When teaching him to ride a bike with training wheels, at some point you let go to see if he could make it on his own. He might have fallen and wobbled a bit, but eventually he got it. It's kinda the same - there comes a point when you have to trust that they can take it from here.
    He is a young man of 18 who needs to begin to practise the skills he will need when he's on his own.

    For me, learning to trust my children's judgement and having them prove their trustworthiness meant letting go, biting my tongue, crossing my fingers, and sometimes saying a prayer or two. For me, it begain years before independence would be a reality. They have to learn to trust themselves as well. Both my difficult child and easy child have adhd.

    I feel you should give him some rope and see what he does with it. I believe a 10 pm curfew for a young man who has graduated high school and is on his way to college, regardless of the time he needs to get up, is too early.

    Just my 2 cents...

  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Well... you're in the classic catch-22. The kid is technically an adult. There are things you can, and cannot, control. To the extent that this young adult allows you to help with his life, you can. To the extent he does not, you then chose your next steps.

    These are just my reactions, having lived at home while getting my education.
    Curfew? If you're only setting that for HIS good, it isn't going to work. If the rules for everybody in the home are the same... say, everybody in by 11 so YOU can sleep, that's fair. HOUSE rules are usually easier to swallow.

    Money? Well... if him paying for x% of his education is a requirement before you'll pay the rest, AND he's willing to let you help set up systems that work for both of you, great. But... expect him to be burning through the cash a bit as he figures out who he is and where he is going.

    Requirement to be involved in campus life? I'd tread carefully. The load was much heavier than I expected, and there's no way I could have handled ANY extracurriculars...

    Somehow, you have to figure out which things are his responsibility, and let him face the consequences. And if being too tired to get up for work on time is one of those consequences, well, that's life. (JMO)
  5. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    When you make the rules , you become responsible for his behavior and the need to try and control him and the situation. This does not foster him taking responsibility for his life and lving with the natural consequences of his actions ( not your imposed consequences ) You are treating him like a little kid . We parents have to learn to let go. At most we can express our concerns and try collaborate with him to come up with mutually satisfying solutions. Some parents worry so much and can't sleep at night if their kids are out late - I say , they have a problem

    AllanKatz -parentingislearning
  6. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Hi Weary! My issues with my son are different than yours, but these are the guidelines for living at home that we set with him. That said, he is no longer living at home because he did not choose to follow them. And he has dropped out of school. So, I can't say with any confidence that they worked - except to say that it did make everything clear. Also, with all of my kids - I have found that stating "be home BEFORE midnight" is much more effective than "be home AT midnight." Even now, when easy child 18 says he will be home at 12:30, I say "before" 12:30.

    You are our son and we love you no matter what. We will always welcome you into our family and we want you to be a part of our family life. Our home is open to you so long as you agree to respect and honor us as your parents and as homeowners.

    Drug use, underage drinking and the accompanying lifestyle is NOT OK with us and never will be. And we will not support your lifestyle financially so long as you are smoking weed and drinking alcohol. So long as we know you could test positive for marijuana, you may not drive any of our vehicles. You are not welcome in our home if you are drunk or high. You may never bring drugs or drug paraphernalia into our home. If we find either, we will call the police. Premarital sexual activity and pornography are not welcome in our home at any time. If you are staying here, we expect you home by midnight on the weekdays and 1:30 on Friday & Saturday. This is not a curfew, we don't care how late you stay out when you are at school, rather this is us choosing our need to have restful sleep. If you want to stay out later, you needs to stay with a friend and notify us before 10pm that you will not be home. There is no place in our home for disruptive or violent behavior. You will be a good example to your brothers and not promote drug or alcohol use. We acknowledge and accept that you are an an adult and we would never dream of telling you what to do when you are living in your own apartment and supporting yourself. In the same light, this is OUR home and we have the right to set our own standard of living here. If you do not want to follow these guidelines, you are not welcome to stay here. If you chose to stay here and do not respect our wishes, you must leave.

    Additionally, we are willing to pay your tuition if you maintain a B- Average, give us full access to your grades online and complete 14+ hours a semester.
    As I said, it didn't quite work out for us, but I don't think that setting the guidelines is what caused it to fail. We were having problems and he had all ready moved out. Our therapist said we needed to start taking back the control and suggested we set guidelines and communicate them directly to him before we let him back in our home. We went up to visit him and had the very discussion above with him. He agreed to them and he did come home for Christmas break - but after a month it was clear to all of us that home wasn't the right place for him. He wanted to call the shots and that wasn't going to happen here. Having had the guidelines was helpful because it gave us a clear picture if that makes sense. ALso, after we talked to difficult child, we had a talk with easy child and set the same guidelines for him. This is how we chose to live our life in our home.
  7. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Allan, I don't know you and I am sure you mean well - but I totally and emphatically disagree. Parents have the right to decide how to live in their own home. We don't give up our own adulthood because our child are reaching the age of maturity. I was willing to give up some sleep until 2am on the weekends and 12 on the weeknights so that my kid could be out and about. But I have a life too and a job. I will worry if they don't come home, and I have the right to get some undisturbed sleep in my own home and bed. So do my difficult child's younger brothers. And the emphasis is on the "difficult child"- these are kids who have issues and those issues=more reason to worry.

    I learned - from a very wise group of moms here - that placating my nearly adult son translated into handing him the control in our house. I thought i was meeting him halfway, he thought I was falling in line. It can be a collaborative effort when they are independent, but turning 18 doesn't give them the rights to have an equal vote in the patterns of the family lifestyle.

    Maybe I am old school. But it ain't happening here.
  8. WearyWoman

    WearyWoman Guest

    In some ways I can't wait to give JT more control (and thus responsibility for consequences) of his own life. on the other hand, he is living in OUR house, driving the truck and using the cell phone we own and paid for. We are paying most of his living and educational expenses. College is expensive, and we want him to succeed, as we know it is in his best interest, obviously. And we have an 11yo on the autism spectrum, and we all have to get up very early for work/daycare. husband and I like to have a little peace at night after 9 p.m. that is our time to watch television and talk just with each other. However, with JT coming home at all hours, raiding the fridge and making a lot of noise late at night, it is disruptive for the rest of us. Bubby is a light sleeper as well.

    I want JT to be independent and make good choices, of course. Yet, I know he is much less mature with this sort of thing than his peers of his age. I view this as a transition time.

    I guess what you're all saying is to back off, let him make his own decisions and deal with the consequences. We just know that he generally doesn't handle making his own choices very well, and he's done some very impulsive things that have gotten him in major trouble in the past. My issue is the arbitrariness of "letting go" at age 18, even for kids with special needs. Yes, he's 18 and legally an adult, but his behavior and cognitive abilities are out of sync with one another. He's intelligent, but makes poor choices, and he also has difficulty with social interactions. He lives in the moment and doesn't consider either past learning experiences or future consequences of his behavior. I'm struggling to find balance between protecting him and giving him independence.

    Tonight, I'll likely discuss your responses with husband. You're probably right that we need to give him freedom to make his own choices, but that's difficult for us. We've been managing his life, supervising him, and keeping him out of trouble for so long. Maybe it's time for JT's problems to become JT's problems.
  9. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi WW, you've received good healthy advice from the other parents. Having raised 3 teenagers now, the one reaction I had to your post is that you are smack in the middle of the process of change that I think we all go through with all the kids, difficult child's and easy child's. I believe it's the age old tug of war of them fighting for their independence and us holding onto control and that usually equals dissatisfaction on both sides. It's a balancing act, for sure. You let go a little, they grab hold, you hold on, they fight you. Some of it is typical teen behavior of asserting themselves, with all their bravado of knowing it all too. I used to have a plaque when my daughter was a teen that said, "hire a teenager today,while they still know everything." It can be exhausting.

    I think it's a negotiation. I found sometimes that instead of forcing rules and attempting control at these ages, sitting down and having a discussion about all the different aspects of your expectations and his worked better for me. Talk it over, give him a chance to voice his opinions and feelings, and you and your husband do the same, but always holding on to the points that are non negotiable for you. I found that agreements worked better then force. If you set clear consequences and everyone is on the same page, he is aware of what you expect and if he breaks the agreement, there is no doubt he has to deal with the consequences. This way he's a willing participant not just a kid whose being told what to do. That seems to be what they rebel against most while they are asserting their rights to be an adult. It's a difficult balance to try to keep them safe, often from themselves, while we let go and allow them to make mistakes and learn from them. That line is the line you're trying to find right now,and it's different for all of us, we are different parents and we have different kids, but the bottom line is that it's a double edged sword, their independence versus our parental control and it's a whole new ball game from when they were young and we made all the choices for them. And, at some point we have to begin to trust their choices even if we don't agree with them, it's part of letting go.
  10. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Remember which parts ARE your problem... for example, if you need the house quiet after 10, that's for YOU (not for JT)... no raiding the fridge etc. is just basic "house rules". If your younger one started doing that too, you'd come down on it, because it's not how you live in your house.

    And if you can find ways to set rules that are dual purpose, that's fine too, just don't tip your hand... if 10 is what JT "needs" but also what YOU need, focus on what YOU need. (and smile about it later)
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I didn't read any other responses, but I can tell you right now that in my opinion (and I could be wrong) you are trying to over control your son's life. When my grown kids turned 18, as long as they checked in with me (and it could be at any reasonable hour) I didn't worry about curfews too much, especially being five minutes late. I think 12 is really early for a college age kid. Anything he can do after 12 he can do before 12. Stuff like insisting he be a runner because his dad may be my opinion, that's your son's choice, what he does in college. As long as my kids pulled the grades, it would be up to them how involved they got in college life. I slowly start letting go of them at sixteen (yes, we do have strict curfews and stuff at sixteen, but they ARE growing up).

    Some adult parents try to micro-manage their children's lives all their lives. I am very much against that. It pushes the k ids away and doesn't teach them to learn survival skills on their own. I find it amazing and to his credit that your son will actually obey a midnight curfew and not break it (except by maybe a half hour ) at his age.

    If you pay for his education, you in my opinion have a right to expect him to pull decent grades and to not break the law. Other than that, I think it's a bad idea to over supervise a college kid. Trust me, if you're TOO touch on him he WILL leave after he turns 18. It doesn't sound to me like he is a bad kid. JMO. I do have a question. If you feel he is immature and unable to care for himself, why pay for him to go away to school? I'm sure there must be some colleges within driving distance. Makes no sense to me.
  12. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    Even if your son comes home on time, you can't force him to fall asleep! My difficult child is 14 and has a Saturday morning "job" in that she walks a neighbors dogs at 7am and earns $10. We agreed to let her do it - but she has to set her alarm and get up on her own. This is hard for her... but it is her job. Saturday morning is the only morning I can sleep in, so I am not going to be responsible for her getting up and working. They have to learn sometime. I think I have protected her from herself for too long.

    He is so close to being at college - I would talk to him about being quiet, respectful, and not cleaning out the fridge... and let him be responsible for himself - or suffer the conseqences of loosing his job. KSM
  13. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Are there any other issues that you haven't mentioned directly, like drugs, drinking or any trouble with the law? I know you said he's manipulative, immature and has done some things that have gotten him in major trouble in the past. Can you elaborate? Also, does your son go for any kind of regular therapy, and if so, will he continue while away at college?
  14. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    I can appreciate a problem if a kid disturbs others when he comes back home in the middle of the night , but if he does not disturb and coming late is acceptable behavior for well adjusted kids I think ' Mom' has to deal with her problem - learn to let go and sleep well . A home is a place for members of the family to have their needs met , not just the parents. Here the problem is with the mom. Of course , the kid could try and compromise , sleep somewhere else etc I am a man , so maybe I see things differently. I have a son , who is in active combat duty - I say my prayers and sleep well .

    Coaching - we should try to act like or find a mentor or coach for your son to help deal with his ADHD
  15. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    That is a good view to take as a starting point for a conversation - a family meeting perhaps. If you want to support him while he's getting his education, then I would not cut off the cell phone. However, if he's working, he should be contributing something to the household which would help cover his insurance, gas, food and yes, room. He needs to be weaned off the proverbial parental teats. It can't all happen at once because as you said you've been managing and supervising him his entire life. Sit with H and decide on some reasonable changes and then rate them on how important they are to difficult child's personal growth as a young adult.

    Personally, we had curfews in our home (and still do) for US - not for my daughters. We have three dogs and when anyone opens a door or the garage, the dogs go off like a 5-alarm firehouse. H and I need to be up every morning, so the curfew was set out of respect for the OTHER adults in our home (H and I). When it was put to our daughters in that vein, they were more receptive to following it. We weren't aiming to control them as much as we were aiming to preserve our sleeptime. We never really had too many issues with curfews and our 24 y/o daughter lives with us and we still don't have any issues with it. Before she goes out, she gives me an estimated time of when she will be home. If it's past 11PM, I leave the back door open and the light on. If it's before 11PM, the garage is lit up and she can come in that way. It is our home, but it is also their home...jmho. Your rules should be about being respectful of everyone's needs within the home and not about controlling your son. And I really hate when parents tie paying for a college education with an unspoken understanding that they then get to control and infantalize their children. One is about supporting your child's secondary education if that is what you believe you should or want to do. The other is unacceptable on all levels, again, jmho.

    When we micromanage our young adult children, we cripple them...when and how will they ever learn how to make choices for themselves or understand their limitations if we are always intervening to 'save them from themselves'?

  16. WearyWoman

    WearyWoman Guest

    I appreciate everyone's thoughts, and I've been really thinking about all that's been said.

    JT's ADHD has made it difficult for him to self regulate. So, things like controlling his impulses and emotions are challenging for him. He is also a risk seeker at times. Although, with his medication and just maturing in his ability to manage his symptoms, he is generally doing okay. It seems like things tend to be fine for a while, and then sometimes, all of a sudden, he has a serious lapse in judgment and something major happens. He was caught stealing money and an i-pod as a freshman in high school. The police and court system were involved. JT lied about the theft. After being caught once, he repeated the behavior and was caught twice more in a short amount of time after that. We had difficulty understanding why he did this when he had money of his own and the ability to purchase his own i-pod, etc. He never even spent any of the money, but he engraved his initials in the i-pod to make it appear like it was his. JT reported that he stole for the thrill of it more than anything.

    Another time, JT was involved with horseplay in the locker room at school that really amounted to a hazing incident of a younger teammate. JT had been hazed himself at that age by older teammates, and he has been bullied in the past. JT received serious consequences for that incident. As parents, we were threatened to be held accountable for JT's actions in this case - on the hook legally.

    We realized that JT was getting into trouble during unsupervised after-school time. So, we no longer allowed him to stay after school unless he was practicing with a team for a sport (structured and supervised by a coach).

    To our knowledge, JT has avoided alcohol, other drugs, and cigarettes. He is an athlete and seems to want to be healthy. Also, he understands the negative impact of these things.

    JT is not receiving therapy, however, we have worked together to help him manage his ADHD symptoms and decision making. He goes to church camp every year for a week and enjoys the acceptance he receives there.

    We allowed JT to make up his own mind about college and the career he wants to pursue. Honestly, I was quite surprised when he said he wanted to go to a university for a bachelor degree. He is extremely mechanically inclined and great at math and science. He is going into a mechanical/industrial field, and there are only two universities in the state that have the facilities and equipment to offer the degree, so going to a local college wasn't an option for his degree choice. His university dorm will have plenty of rules, including a curfew, noise restrictions, and alcohol/drug and behavior policies. The university has its own police department. We support his decision, and honestly, if he were living at home and going local, I'm not sure things would be any easier.

    JT has no trouble sleeping. He gets up at 5 a.m. and works 10 - 12 hours on his construction job and also runs daily. He likes to watch TV in the evenings, but he often falls asleep before 10 p.m. even. He seems to need a lot of sleep.

    I'm surprised that so many people have no curfews for their adult children while living at home. I know plenty of easy child parents who do have curfews. JT often fails to call and check in or come home when he says he's coming home.

    Allan, it sounds like you have been able to let go of control and worry. Maybe you're right that I have a problem because I worry about my son's safety and whereabouts late at night and would like him to be home by a certain time. However, sometimes bad things happen. I was on the receiving end of a very late-night phone call once that a family member (18yo difficult child) and four of his same-age friends were killed in a one-vehicle accident. They had been driving too fast together in a car on a winding, country road when they crashed into a ditch at a speed so fast, the car split in two. Alcohol was involved. All five died instantly. The devastating impact this had on our family and all other families involved, as well as the community, cannot be understated. My JT has some traits that put him at risk for something like this. He is exactly the same age as these boys were at the time of their death. I do worry about where he is, who he is with, and what he is doing. I understand this is a time of transition, and I realize I need to let go more. Not everyone's experiences are the same, and that's okay. My experience of letting go may be different than yours, but I will successfully transition. I'm working on it, and that's why I'm here.
  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    But...I mean this can't worry about him his entire life. And I know good kids who were killed in prom night car accidents by another driver. Kids can drink at six as easily as at one o'clock AM. They can do anything before 12 that they do after 12. I know the sweetest young woman who was a motorcycle mechanic (yep, a I loved her very much. She was killed while on her motorcycle in the middle of the day. Somebody hit her, she died instantly. It was not her fault. She was not speeding nor was she intoxicated. Terrible things happen all the time. Short of locking our kids up in a tower (or dungeon as I sometimes fantacize...haha...j/k) there is no way to stop all possible bad things from happening.

    College dorms are a hotbed of sex, drugs, and even extreme bullying. Do you think your son is up for it? Most colleges have rules and consequences, but there are no adults there to enforce them so those rules are routinely broken and most kids don't get caught. Also, there are no curfews...just saying.

    Anyhow, good luck whatever you decide to do. I hope your son does well. He really sounds like a pretty good kid, or at least since he did that stealing. The majority of teens (I've raised four and they all had different issues) are impulsive at times because they have teenage brains and they do "dumb" stuff because they don't think first. Unless it is chronic, in my opinion it is pretty typical teen. If they learn from their mistakes, that's the main thing. Again just my worthless two cents :) Post again. You made some wonderful points.
  18. WearyWoman

    WearyWoman Guest

    I feel like I'm being hit over the head here. So, this is a difficult time for us, as our son goes off to college and our role changes in his life. Seriously, has no one else here experienced any challenges with this, especially with special needs children?

    I do not wish to "control and infantalize" my adult son. Those are very strong words that carry a condescending tone when used together. If JT starts failing classes in college because of poor choices, we need to make a decision as to whether we wish to continue to pay for an education that may not result in a degree. Even the scholarships he has received have stipulations, such as maintaining a certain grade-point average and number of credits, etc. Athletic scholarships also have requirements. These are not meant to control or infantalize, but to ensure appropriate effort on the part of the recipient.

    Our son has managed to seriously abuse a lot of freedoms in his time, causing him and us a lot of grief, unfortunately. I could go on about all of these incidents over the years, but in most cases, they happened because he had difficulty controlling himself and telling himself "no" when he needed to. Not all kids have the same maturity and neurology at any given age. Obviously, JT needs to become more and more independent during these years. I'm asking for help with some of the specifics of our changing relationship going forward.

    MWM - I'm pretty sure it is possible to worry about a child their entire life. I have anxiety, and I am a worrier, and I have experienced trauma, however, I do not want to worry about him his entire life in a way that is unhealthy for me either. I'm trying to get to that point, and I'm having a hard time, okay? I thought this was a place where it is okay to be having a hard time and seek out support.

    You're right that I cannot protect JT from everything awful that could happen, but good choices can minimize risk to some extent. Being out on the road at 2 a.m. in Wisconsin, where there are bars on many corners, and over 23% of adults are binge drinkers and shockingly, the same percentage of people over the age of 16 have driven under the influence over a one-year period, is more risky than at other times of the day.

    Your comment about college dorms being hotbeds for sex, drugs, and extreme bullying, followed by the question of whether my son is "up for it" are provocative in that on the one hand you encourage me not to worry and to just let go, but on the other hand, you suggest that I am letting him go into this horrible situation. It also comes across as though you think I am hopelessly naive about college life. I happen to be a college instructor. I am not naive. I work with college kids every single day, and I see a host of reasons why some do not succeed in their academic programs. Colleges and universities are attempting to address these issues so that more students do succeed. I know this because I am involved with college success teams. JT will be on an alcohol-free floor for example. He is an honor student, and the honors living halls offer the opportunity to be housed with other honors students and have more restrictive rules. Quiet study floors and quiet hours are in place, and courtesy hours are round-the-clock. Residence halls close to the public overnight. At least one resident advisor is on duty each evening, and a security assistant monitors the buildings overnight. The university police services are dedicated only to the university. I disagree with your statement that there are no adults to enforce rules on college campuses. That is simply not true. I know because I am employed at a college and have years of first-hand experience. In fact, there are more safety procedures in place than ever, many of them taking advantage of new technologies. Are these things bullet-proof measures to ensure the absolute safety of everyone at all times? Of course not, but you bet I'm going to make my son aware so he will hopefully take advantage of these things - surrounding himself with positive people and a good support system and adopting good habits in college.

    So far, what I've taken away from this discussion is that I need to give JT more freedom to make his own decisions, while preserving consideration for others in the home as well. A conversation sounds like the way to go versus arbitrary rules. Any house courtesies we establish should be for the benefit of all of us, not for behavioral control. These are good thoughts. I understand that my role as a parent is changing, and I want to make the transition positive.
  19. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    WearyWoman... I'm on the pre-planning end of this situation, and my difficult child definitely has the immaturity and decision making challenges you describe. Our plan? He will NOT be going off to college. He won't even be going to college here. He will have to work for at least a couple of years - he can do an apprenticeship if he wants, but not full-time school. My difficult child needs time and real life experiences to mature... and I don't know of any other way to teach those skills. Because I "know" that the probability of failure far exceeds the probability of success, there's no way I'd be paying for or supporting the advanced education endeavor at this point in time. But... that's just me.

    The parents on this board... well, please stick around, you'll discover that they are actually very caring, and very experienced... and many of them have been through the worst of the worst possible scenarios, things that you and I don't even know about. So, if they come across a bit strong, it's not to be rude or condescending, it's because of "where they are coming from"...
  20. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    My difficult child was unexpectedly out of the house and three hours away when he was still 17 and just had to learn to cope with these things. He has done better than I honestly expected. So I may not be a best person to give an advice, we kind of skipped the phase you are in.

    But I do think that this summer would be golden opportunity for your son to learn to manage his time. He has to do it at fall in college town. Failing classes because of bad time management is very costly way to learn. Often kids don't learn before they try and fall face down. If my son would be a same situation your is, I would like that falling to his face happen before he leaves for the college. Loosing a job in this point would be a small price to pay. Even having to postpone college for a year and take time learning these skills could cost all of you less than failing in college because of this.

    You can not take care of this when he leaves. I think it's better if he has chance to try, fumble and learn before he really is on his own.