Attitude - Cazenovia,NY

Updated on March 07, 2014
B.B. asks from Cazenovia, NY
15 answers

We have a 19 year college boy that I have a issue with swearing, disrespect (especially with me and his 9 year old brother), meanness towards his brother, and just general attitude. He is going to college full time and is working a part-time job (hours range from 8 – 20). He is going to local 2 year college in a career choice which I think he will not follow thru with. He has no goals except to hang with his girlfriend and his guy friends. If you ask him what he wants to do with his life he changes his plans all the time. He wanted to be a pilot, go into business with my husband and be a mechanic (own their own shop), now a fire investigator. He is going to pay for college thru a loan and grants. He does not have to pay for his cell phone or most any of his other bills except gas and car parts for his truck. My husband and I have decided that we are going to make him pay for his own car insurance starting in April. This has been discussed with him weekly since October (last renewal). So this is not something we just threw at him. Over the next few months we will be dishing out more than $1500.00 on medical expenses for him (not life threatening. He has over $800 in a savings account, while his dad and I work for our bills to get paid. How do I get it thru his thick skull that he needs to change his attitude and be happy for the place he is at and realize that we are not asking for a lot when we ask him to help with the chores around the place and or pay for some of his own expenses.

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answers from Norfolk on

Sounds like he's ready to move out.
You've raised him as far as you can.
He's going to have to grow up the rest of the way on his own and live somewhere else while doing it.

7 moms found this helpful

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answers from Iowa City on

You can't. There is no magic pill that will make a 19 year old become appreciative for the things you do. Children often don't understand how much their parents do for them until they become parents and/or live on their own.

What you can do is pick your rules and stick with them. You can say if you want to remain living with us you must do the following (dishes, feed the snake, hoe the garden...whatever you decide). We won't be paying your medical bills. We won't be providing your meals. We won't be buying your clothing. And so on and so forth. He will either comply or he won't. Then you get to decide if you want to kick him out or deal with it.

I'm sorry he is giving you a hard time but it could be much worse. At least he has a job and is going to college. As for bouncing around on what he wants to do...well, I'm 31 and I still can't make up my mind.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

Honestly, if your 19 year old son is lazy, irresponsible, rude and disrespectful after living nearly 20 years under your roof, that is the mature result of seeds planted long ago.

Sounds like you and your husband need to have a heart to heart talk with him about how life really is, instead of letting him walk all over you while you pay the bills.

Stop paying all his bills. He has a job.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Nobody, in their own mind, "needs" to change their attitude, until real-life circumstances or events demand it.

I think asking your son to pull his own weight financially is reasonable. I doubt that very many 19yo's can really know yet what they want to be when they grow up, but get a broader picture of the possibilities as their lives broaden to include new experiences. And new necessities.

And, in my experience, it's generally new experiences that teach compassion for others and the importance of relationship, as well. It's normal human psychology to 'expect' all the good that has routinely come to us, and to take our families for granted to a certain degree.

While you're able to see all your son's faults, he really can't yet. It's normal for kids that age to be very self-absorbed. It may even be necessary to launch into adult life, which otherwise might look too terrifying. Try encouraging him, admiring his successes (even if you have to search for them), and thinking of him as a nearly-grown man instead of a teen with a bad attitude. That's a bad attitude, too, so try setting an example. It's not easy. Good luck.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I sort of feel like you and your hubby might beat him down a bit. He doesn't know what he wants to do, he won't follow through, we've been reminding him weekly for 6 months(!).

He's 19. He's going to school. He's paying for it through loans and grants. He is working. And yes, maybe he is unsure of what his future holds. So maybe that's why he lashes out.

Try to communicate with him adult to adult. And let him know, gently, that he can always go find another place to live. You can also let him know that you will be charging him $200 a month to live their or he can earn that by doing X.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

You do realize in most colleges, they do not have to declare their major until the end of their sophomore year or beginning of Junior year? What you are describing is the exact reason why.. Some students start off knowing exactly what they want to study, but once they start taking classes, other things may interest them more, or they realize what they thought they wanted to do, is not really for them after all.

He is going to school, working and of course wants to spend time with friends and his girlfriend he is still very young.

But that is a lot going on and a big change in his lie from just last spring being in high school. How much is he actually earning/bringing home from this part time job? Lets say he is making $10. per hour 20 hours every week?
That is $800. before deductions per month? so about $620. - $680 a month? IF he works 20hours EVERY week.

And then he is about to have $1500. Medical procedure?

I would sit down with him and find out if he even wants to be in school right now. Some guys are still pretty immature till they get to be about 21.

Maybe he could work full time until he can find his focus and passion.

I suggest if he wants to continue to live at home and quit school, he can live in your home but has to pay $300 - $400. per month in rent. $75. per week for food, if he is going to be eating at home. He needs to pay for his cell phone and gas, up keep of his truck, AND he must be respectful to all that live in the house.

Have him sign an agreement.

And mom, consider this. Without telling him, maybe put this money he pays you, or some of it, in savings and when he is ready to move out you give it to him or use it towards his schooling.

I know the dynamic has changed. But he still needs to respect all of you. He needs to recognize you all are doing him a great favor. Allowing him to continue to live in your home, etc..

If he does not like the rules, I guess he needs to consider finding his own place. It is always a shock to kids to find out how much deposit s necessary. and then what the monthly amount to run a household is.

My mom was very open about this. I knew her house payment, her property taxes, home insurance and all of the utility costs.

When I started researching to find my own place I was really really shocked. There was just no way for me to be able to move out.

He seems to be a it lost right now.. Help him find a focus and some goals he can actually achieve this month. He sounds like he is floundering.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Tell him that he is an adult. He will be expected to act like one or he can move out of the home like most adults do. Sit him down and lovingly tell him this with your husband at your side. Then later, another discussion needs to take place to make an exit plan for him to leave the nest and take more responsibility for himself.

You cannot get it in his thick skull while he is very comfortable with the set up you have for him. He is very comfortable. He is an adult and should have more responsibility on his shoulders. There is no way in hell you or your husband should allow this adult son to disrespect the family and expect to live there. He should instead be washing dishes, mowing the lawn and taking out the trash to earn his keep...not sassing and making your lives miserable.

Tell him get some roommates and live on his own. Now that would get it through his thick skull that mom and dad mean what they say. Stop harping,preaching and lecturing. You can't make him want to be proactive about his life..he will have to learn it on his own.

Good luck and best wishes!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

My husband calls it "removing the fluffy down feathers of the nest". Our oldest is 17, about to graduate from HS. She is very much a "young" 17, but we are still removing a few feathers. As long as she follows our house rules, helps maintain our house, is pleasant, respectful & polite to us all, she will have a home & her ordinary expenses will be covered. She has savings for her community college classes. All those extras that she wants--get a job & pay for them. Smart phone, car insurance (if she would drive) fancy clothes, going out with friends--get a job to pay for them. You don't want to help maintain the roof over your head, laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc, then move out.

It took a bit to sink in, but we have never said anything different. Yes, you may be an "adult", but if you still live with us, you are part of our household & you will have responsibilities, which will INCREASE, not decrease with your new "adulthood". Do we want to "throw you out"? NO, we love you. But we love you enough to help you transition into adulthood, not to give you a free ride.

So talk with your son, map out which bills are HIS & his alone. If it was me--cell phone, clothes, going out with friends & car insurance are his. Help him get the car insurance & cell phone in his name, because that will teach him how to fill out the forms & help him establish a credit history. Start charging him room & board (food, water & electricity is NOT free).

It's scary growing up. I had NO idea how to rent an apartment, get the phone, gas & electricity hooked up. How to get a credit card. How to make sure I didn't over charge--of course, I made mistakes. That's how we learn. But he needs your guidance. And about what he wants to do when he grows up? He's trying, let him explore a little bit. Good Luck.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

Well, I live in the dorm when I was in college, and you really sound like you are describing most of the people I went to school with.

Most of the people I knew changed their major a couple of times or at least doubted what they were going to do with it. I graduated from college with one major, tried a couple of jobs, got a masters degree in another field and am now using my original degree.

My parents paid for my bachelor's degree (I paid for my master's), so I plan to pay for my kids education. I do realize not everyone can do that, but I am bothered by the "He's an adult, so he should be supporting himself," attitude. You and your husband have to decide what you're willing/able to do for him financially and fully inform him. But please don't act like he's doing something wrong by not being completely financially independent. That's not exactly an easy thing to do at 19.

Going to school full-time and working part-time. That's pretty good for 19.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

He's not a 19 year old boy he's a 19 year old young man, it's time to start treating him like one.
Stop paying for his phone and other bills. If he's going to college full time I'd let him stay and feed him but that's pretty much it. It's time for him to grow up and that can't happen until he starts having more responsibility.
Kids, even adult kids, don't really appreciate what parents do for them until they are forced to do it for themselves.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

B., I have an 18 year old college freshman.

You want your son to act like a mature adult. Do you treat him like one, or like some kid living in your house. We can't expect them to be adults, but treat them like children. You say that all he wants to do is hang around with his friends and girlfriend, but this is not true since you also say that he is going to college full time and working up to half time. What else do you expect him to do with his free time? He should be keeping his own room and bathroom clean, cleaning up his own messes in the kitchen and doing his own laundry. He is not going to want to play with a 9 year old brother, even though the brother may look up to him and want to spend time with him.

Most fulltime college students, especially those who are paying their own way, are not self supporting adults! You are balking at paying for his medical bills? I just laid out $1,200 today for the portion of the bill from the oral surgeon that our insurance did not cover for my oldest getting their wisdom teeth removed today. College kids with a part time job don't cover those expenses. Are you still claiming him on your taxes as a dependent? Then you need to cover his basic expenses. You resent paying for his medical care when he has savings? Most of us with young adults in college are GLAD that they have some savings. He isn't blowing all of his money. He is making wise choices. You'd rather that he spend down all of his savings and have nothing?

Yes, it's okay for him to cover some of his own expenses, but I would expect to be mostly supporting a full time college student. He works and goes to school. That's what he should be doing.

Perhaps the attitude comes from feeling like he can never do enough to please you, that he's in college fulltime and working and what else do you expect from him. I'm not saying that it's okay for him to be hostile or nasty, and cursing at famiily members is NEVER okay, not negotiable, but I'm wondering if your expectations are not quite on target. I am not trying to be unkind, but I believe that there are two sides to this story.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

What I don't see in your post is whether your son had an attitude BEFORE all this. Was he a snarky middle-schooler? A surly high-schooler? Think back -- Has he always been somewhat "entitled"-acting, and not particularly grateful? Or was he more amenable to house rules, doing chores, being at least decent to his brother, before college/work started? I think this is important: You and dad really need to sit down -- without your son there -- and consider whether this (a) started or got much worse when he finished HS and started living at home as a college student; or (b) is just a bigger, more expensive version of a teenage entitlement that he always showed.

The answer may help you decide whether this attitude is rooted in confusion and some anger over not really knowing his place in the world right now ("I live at home with my parents which is embarrassing; school is stressful; work PLUS school is stressful; I don't have time to do homework; man, I'd rather chill out; my brother is suddenly old enough to be a real pain...") or whether it's about a mere continuation of his being, well, unpleasant for a long time now.

If the attitude is new behavior since college/work started: Sit him down, don't scold but don't beg for niceness either. Tell him that you respect the fact he's holding down full-time school plus a job. He needs to hear that. Then tell him that you all need to do certain things to make the household function. Your family needs a written chore roster (including chores for your younger son, your husband and yourself). Your son needs to be saving at least a little money from every paycheck. Don't bring up the "you are always changing your career goals/major" etc.; while that's not ideal, it's normal, and he must work that out himself; if he's in the early stages of college, he's doing a lot of foundational classes anyway and those will count even if he changes his major, right?

Then address the attitude. You need to be specific. Saying "You have a bad attitude" will only make him defensive and it gives him nothing to improve on. Use "when you...then I feel" statements that don't blame: "When you swear at or in front of me, it makes me feel that you disrespect me and it hurts." "When you swear in front of your brother, it makes me feel that you don't care that he looks up to you as an example." Be sure you and husband don't swear either -- use a "swear box" with fines for ALL household members who swear, if that helps all of you stop.

Yes, be firm with him, but approach it as "You are an adult now, and we respect that, and part of being an adult is pulling some weight so the whole household works" which leads to chores and respectful speech. Be sure that you also are clear with younger son about any behaviors of HIS that may be problems or aggravate his brother. And be sure that you are not getting on your older son's case about things like coming in late, or how he spends his free time -- if you are trying to discipline him like he's in HS he is going to act like an angry high schooler. Your house, your rules, but you and he need to sit down and agree on what those rules mean for an adult who is living at home.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Stop paying his bills. Who is paying for college? He needs to step up and start being responsible.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Sit down with him and present him with a list of "house rules" concerning attitude and acceptable behavior AND an itemized list of his monthly expenses you and your husband cover for him (phone, insurance, etc. but don't get petty and add room/board in also). Let him know that unless he is prepared to take responsibility for the former, he will be responsible for the latter, in addition to rent and food, because he will no longer be able to live with you.

I do agree that the weekly reminders about taking over his insurance and the attitude you have about him not knowing what career he wants and doubting his follow through is just adding to a bad situation. Either treat him like an adult and expect adult behavior or treat him like a child and deal with the attitude.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Very much like some of my students at the comm college where I teach. Most parents do pay their college kids insurance or medical - he could probably get a student policy too.
At least he is going to school and working...he may be stressed out - sometimes work and school can get overwhelming.
Either way, he still has to follow your rules. I think its okay for parents to pay for the kids while they're in college...after they graduate (or if they drop out), they should be on their own financially.

1 mom found this helpful
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