Desperately Need Advice on How to Deal with My 18 Year Old Son.

Updated on October 23, 2014
M.E. asks from Mount Laurel, NJ
34 answers

Hello. I am new to the site so please bare with me. I have a situation with my son I was hoping to get some advice. Me and my son have been so close, he was always a good kid, never did got in any trouble, never went out partying, was in his room all the time playing video games, that's it. He graduated this year and needing pushing to find a job. It took awhile, but he finally got a job and he's doing very well and likes his job. He's been working now for about 2 weeks and I can see a change in his attitude. We've had a few arguments this past week about his future, how to handle his money, etc. Here's a couple examples, I had him open a checking account and he has direct deposit. He got his first pay last week that went into his account, but he has no checks, no check registers to keep track of his spending, etc. I told him he needs to at least get a register so he can keep track of his spendings with his debit card. This turned into a huge argument. He says he keeps track on his phone in his "notes". I'm thinking what if the notes get deleted by accident? I told him that is no way to keep track of spending. You need a register and you need to know what your starting balance was. He won't listen. We are not charging him rent, we had an agreement that he would start paying for his cell phone bill, his life insurance, and his car insurance and that was fine. We figured out what that would cost each month and we're having him pay us weekly towards the monthly amount, which equals out to very little. That's all asked. The other day we said we think he should help pay for the internet as well, we have the fastest internet just so he could play his PS4 online, so since it's for him, I think he should at least pay some towards it. Well he flipped saying that wasn't part of the agreement. I said well we can very easily go down to the slower service, I don't need the super high speed for us. And our internet is very expensive. He finally agreed to help but he wasn't happy about it. Then on Friday night he was running his friend all over the place and had to go to work the next morning. He calls me when he gets to work saying he don't think he's going to make it to the gas station. I said why didn't you get gas on the way to work. He said he didn't have time. I say why didn't you get it last night, since his friend lives right next to a gas station. He gave some excuse. He kept texting me saying he's not going to make it. Since we were not going to be in the area when he was done, I buy a gas can and get him a gallon of gas and drive up to his work, which is about 30 minutes away and I put it in for him. I tell him this when he texts me on his lunch break and I tell him he needs to be more responsible. He tells me, no you need to be more responsible. I was furious. I said thats the thanks I get after I did this for you? And he says well your the one who always forgets things like your phone and stuff. I'm then told I always doubt him, etc. This is because I always call him to make sure he's up to go to work in the morning and he gets mad cause I do that. But his track record from his school days are not good, so I just want to make sure he gets up ok. I'm not doubting him, just trying to help him. So then I'm told that I'm bragging that I helped him. Not one thank you! I was very angry, not just angry hurt by this. All I wanted was a thank you and I didn't get it. We eat out on weekends and we ask him what he wants to eat and buy him food all the time. Anything he wants. Well this weekend, that stopped. So today, his best friend posted a video to him on facebook and since I'm friends with them both on facebook, I looked at it and it's of a kid telling you to not let your parents tell you what to do, you are 18, 19, whatever and you are an adult so don't let them tell you what to do F them, you are grown and you tell them it's your life, blah, blah, blah. This just put me over the top. I just don't know what to do. From the beginning, all I wanted for him was to do the right thing and not mess things up. He has this good job now and he always was a good kid. I just don't know what's going on the last few weeks. He's different. I don't know if it's because he's making money now and thinks he can do what he wants. I thought letting him pay me the money for his bills would be a good thing, I could've put his stuff in his own name and let him handle it, but I thought I would help him until he got on his feet and used to paying bills. Now I'm thinking I should just do it and let him worry about it. I just think if he gets in trouble and can't pay bills or has bank fees cause he's overdrawn, we'll be the one who has to bail him out of it and I don't want that and can't afford to do that. And my fear is if this gets too ugly, he'll never bother with us again. And I don't want that. I love my kids very much and I don't want them to hate me and never talk to me again, but I can't be disrespected like this. It's almost like he thinks we're supposed to do everything for him. Like it's owed to him. He was very close with my parents too and wanted to stay with them during the week cause it was closer to his job and they won't let him cause they rent and the landlord wouldn't go for it and if he did, they would have to pay more money. So now he's angry at them and won't even talk to my mother. He says they turned their back on him. And thats not true. He is their life. They give him anything he wants, more than any other grandparents would do. Anytime he ever wanted anything, he would tell my mom and she would give it to him, she would give him her last dollar. And now this is how he's treating them. I just think people are putting stuff in his head. And I'm angry with his best friend for sending the video. I know he tells him everything and I think he's trying to get him to not respect us. We really have no rules, we never had to have any rules cause he never went anywhere or did anything. He was an honor roll student in High School. He wanted to go to College, but for something that he could never make a career out of and we told him that is not a good idea. I can't see him paying loans for something he could never get a job in. Maybe I'm wrong saying that, but I'd hate to have him paying on school loans for something that is not possible to do in this area and I can't see him moving away in a big city. He's been so sheltered all his life, he would never make it. I know this is a lot to take in, but any advice would really help me out. I'm so upset and hurt by all this, I feel like I'm losing him, but yet I'm so frustrated and angry how he is treating all of us.

What can I do next?

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More Answers

T.F.

answers from Dallas on

The whole thing sounds like a cluster...k to me. You should have cut the apron strings YEARS ago.

That said, I cannot believe you actually talked him out of going to college and furthering his education because of what YOU think his major would have been. Even if he were to get a general degree... higher education will help him in the long run so he has a chance to make something of himself.

It sounds to me like you just want to dumb him down so you have complete control of his life. Poor kid.

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K.O.

answers from Atlanta on

Outside of him not thanking you for helping him out with the gas - I'd say you are way in the wrong.

His checking account - it's his. Let him do it his own way. If he needs to know how much is in there, he can look it up online. I'm 32 and my mother an I still argue about it. It annoys her that I don't keep a record of every little thing and it annoys me that I have to stop and wait for her to write down every little thing and then she complains about how long it takes to balance her checkbook. Look it up - bank does it for you. It's a difference of opinion. Back off and let him do it his way.

Waking up, reminders, etc - he's an adult. Treat him like a responsible one. My mother did this in college. All she got was a special ring tone to let me know it was her calling and to not bother rushing to pick up the phone. (Despite how it sounds, I am close with my mother but I didn't need reminders to wake up, reminders to wear a jacket, reminders to pack this. I can function on my own).

College - I can't believe you talked him out of it. You essentially limited his options by doing that.

Gas - He should have been over backwards thanking you for the gas. It was a favor that you went way out of your way for.

He is sheltered because you made it so. It sounds like you have very little faith in him to function in life. You should have been instilling some sort of responsibility and independence years ago. I think you are handling things mostly correctly - getting a job, sharing bills, etc. But you need to also back off and not try to micromanage his whole life. That's why he's snapping at you (doesn't make it excusable, but that is the underlying reason).

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J.B.

answers from Boston on

Sorry mom but you come across as 100% the definition of a helicopter mom and on top of that, a dream killer.

Most kids who go to college go with the idea of studying something that doesn't lead to a practical career. It's fine. I have a degree in English lit and work in finance, which is pretty common. And why not encourage him to stretch his wings, move out, study, and then go wherever a job takes him? I can't imagine telling a child who was an honors student to not go to college. If you're really in NJ it's not like you live in the middle of nowhere! What career could he possibly have been interested in that's not available for him to do in NJ, NY, PE or another place nearby?

And for goodness sake, get off of his FB page and don't read the things his friends post. He's a grown man, give him some space!

You are treating him like a baby and suffocating him. He's telling you that he doesn't need a wake up call, so stop calling to make sure he's up and let him deal with the consequence of being late.

On the other hand, you're giving him no grace. Who among us hasn't had a lapse in judgment and forgotten to get gas, or left a phone at home, etc?

He's going through some growing pains. Back off, disentangle yourself from being inside every detail of his life, and get him back on track to go to college, which is where young adults of his age belong. It's where they can figure out the details of life, like paying bills and getting place on time, without their parents hovering over them.

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L.M.

answers from New York on

I have a 19 year old daughter, who lives at home, has a part time job, and goes to school part time. I can understand a lot of what you are going through. It's difficult to find the balance of helping them and letting them fail.

As far as the checking account goes, there is absolutely no reason to keep a register. With online banking, you can see you bank activity at any time. If this is how he wants to track things, let him.

Having you give him money for his things and telling him he needs to pay his expenses is part of growing up. It sounds like you're on track.

Bringing him gas, are you nuts? Let him figure it out himself.

I don't understand why you would not encourage your child to go to college. Maybe what he wanted wasn't the best choice, but there are other options... a different degree, a community college, a trade school. He needs an education.

Why is he so sheltered? How long do you expect to shelter him?

The bottom line, he's an adult. Treat him like one.

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S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

good heavens! what a litany of woes!
it's too late for a lot of this. you don't let an 18 year old sit around playing video games his whole life then suddenly expect him to get a job and understand how to be a responsible adult. kids should be learning how to handle a checkbook BEFORE they have one. a simple notebook ledger to keep track of their allowance ought to be a regular part of the growing up.
makes me crazy that my kids do all their banking and balancing on-line. i learned and taught them how to do it on the back of the monthly statement, dagnabit, and if it was good enough for me...........
and yet they manage just fine. AND they figured out their own systems for themselves. the only input i had or that they needed was the ongoing responsibility during their teen working lives, which started at 14 or 15.
as for the gas incident (which is where i gave up reading), yes, he was a twit, but geez, you just kept going on and on and on at him 'why didn't you this?' and 'why didn't you that?'
no wonder he got irritated.
he was an asshat when you bailed him out. that right there *should* tell you what to do next time.
you've 'sheltered him his whole life' and now you're panicking that he is squirming desperately to escape the smothering. i hope the poor boy spreads his wings soon. since you've coddled him this far, it's going to be a hard row for him to hoe (and for you too) so i hope you're able to let loose on the apron strings a little, and also understand that he's going to make mistake and balls things up because he's got no experience in coping with adult life. you can't wait until they're adults to start getting them ready for it.
khairete
S.

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L.A.

answers from Austin on

Ok mom, welcome to Mamapedia,

In the future it helps if you can use paragraphs. We older moms need the spaces when a question is so long.

I actually have a child that is in her mid 20's and niece and nephews that are also graduates.

You need to take a step back. Way back.

He was an honor student and you discouraged him from going to college because you did not feel, did not believe, did not listen to what he wants to do? Now you are upset because he is not doing things the way you want him to live his life? Why are you doing this to him?

MOM, this is his life. Let him fail on his own. Let him succeed if he wants. This is a very unhealthy relationship.

He has his own mind, his own dreams and you are keeping him from even trying because YOU have all of these fears.

As parents we are there to encourage our children. We are supposed to have prepared them to move out and be able to live their own lives. That is the goal as a parent is to raise a self sufficient confident adult.

Let him do things "His way". There is not just 1 way to do things. Most banks now have our accounts online. I did not have actual checks or a register for the last.. maybe 10 years? I know sounds crazy, but I never needed checks until recently. I could pay with my debit card. I kept up with my accounts online. Heck we even do our taxes online.

IF you are available when he needs assistance then help him when he calls, otherwise tell him, sorry, I am not available to take a gallon of gas to you.

Let him figure it out.

And mom, you need to see a therapist to help you understand that yes, you will always be his parents, but you do not get power to hold him back from trying to achieve his dreams. Better to have tied and failed than to have never tried and not know what he can do..

Rethink your expectations for him, instead start supporting his goals.
We never know what may come. Right now he is trying to separate himself from you, that is what he is supposed to do.

You are to give him your opinions and advice and then let him make the final decisions.. and mom.. No, "I told you so." Our kids need to feel like we want them to succeed and if they do not, we tell them we are proud of them for at least trying..

When my daughter asks for my advice I tell her "Here are my concerns..." "My experience with his has been...."

I do not tell her no. I tell her, if you feel strongly about this and you have a plan, go for it. At least you will not regret because you never tried.

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M.P.

answers from Portland on

I urge you to stop telling him what to do and only do for him what you're able to do good naturedly. For example, he called for help with is gas. Either you can do it or not. Let go of the need to teach him what to do. He will learn from experience. Because you criticized him he's likely to be too angry or irritated to learn.

It'seems time for you to let go of controlling him. Trust that you'very raised him to think for himself and let him take care of the bumps in the road. He will learn from his mistakes. Trust that in the end he will be successful.

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A.D.

answers from Minneapolis on

Not to be harsh, but I'm shocked you discouraged him from going to college. Many, many people go away to college with ideas in their head about what major or career path they are "going for" and IT CHANGES. People grow and change, grow up, learn life lessons, and learn to manage themselves without their parents hovering. A college major isn't a life sentence, it's just an opportunity. Let him go to college and pursue that thing "he could never make a career out of" He needs to figure it out on his own.

I still remember my mom telling me the big university if the city was just "too big" Just because it would have been overwhelming for HER, doesn't mean I wouldn't have loved it. I actually DO live it that big city right now, and I do love it.

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J.S.

answers from Chicago on

You are way too controlling. Your son is angry because he is an adult and you're treating him like he's 10. Cut those apron strings. If he fails, at least he made his own mistakes and will hopefully learn from them.

So, next time he says he's out of gas, tell him too bad so sad, call Triple A. If he cries because you didn't call him to get up for work, tell him to get a tissue for his issue.

Since he lives at home, it's fine that you set rules. Your house, your rules. If he doesn't like it, he can move out. I'd probably make that jerk pay rent too. Oh, but remember, you raised him this way. So, good luck.

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M.T.

answers from New York on

Hi Mom, my oldest is a 19 year old college student who lives on campus, so a different situation.
You have a decision to make with your son. Is he a teenager living as a kid in your house, or is he an adult who is living in your home with you? If he is an adult, then as a graduate, he needs to be in school or working fulltime. Since it sounds like he is working full time, then yes, he does need to contribute toward the household expenses, pay his own insurance/phone/gas/clothing, unless you'd rather allow him to save for his own apartment or for his education.

At this stage, you should not be involved in how he handles his bank account. He's not writing checks, he's withdrawing via debit, if his note are wiped out, he calls the automated number and gets a balance. But either way, it's not you concern. It's his. If he messes up, that's a lesson in adult life to be learned. The gas situation? I'd say give him a one time pass and if it happens again, you'll either charge him a rescue fee or he should call someone else. What does he have life insurance for? Is it to pay his funeral expenses if he dies? If not, he does not need life insurance unless he has children. Life insurance is to take care of your dependents.

While I agree that young adults should seek out college majors where there are actually jobs, at this point, he can decide what he wants do to with his life. It sounds to me as though he feels you didn't support what he wanted to do with his life, you put the brakes on his plans, and now he doesn't really care what he does with his life and wants to say "Screw you."

Time to stop parenting so much. He is a young adult. He needs to live his life, make his mistakes and be responsible for his own happiness. To live in harmony together as adults, there will be some bumps in the road, but communication is key. Things will not and should not be exactly the same as when he was a high school kid even though that was just a few months ago. This is where the separation that comes with going away to college can be helpful, although I realize this is not always financially feasible.

Good luck!

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C.N.

answers from Baton Rouge on

Sounds like a fairly typical eighteen year old living at home to me. He's got one foot in the adult world and one still in the kid world.
Anyone over the age of 17 who lives in my house is expected to contribute both money and sweat equity to the maintaining of the household.

Keep your nose out of his checking account. If you're afraid he will overdraw it, require that he pay you in cash. If he overdraws, he overdraws. Everyone who has ever had a checking account has done it at least once. It isn't the end of the world, if it happens. He will just be without money until he gets paid again. Do NOT cover his checks. At MOST, you can LEND him gas money to get to work, but make sure he understands that it is a LOAN, not a gift.

Stop calling him to wake him up. Tell him to buy an alarm clock. If he oversleeps, he oversleeps.

Put a gas can in his car so that if he runs out of gas on the way to work, he can walk to the nearest gas station and get some.

Don't confuse Facebook with real life. People spout off on there all the time. It's a soapbox, it's a sounding board. His friend's opinions should have nothing to do with the way you run your home.

As for him hating you, if your kid doesn't hate you at least three times in his life, you aren't doing your job as a parent.

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S.W.

answers from Amarillo on

This ship sailed a long time ago as in right after birth. You did not really parent the child you smothered him and made him a real dependent.

Times have changed for both of you. Now you have to let go of the apron strings and sit on the side line and watch the show. You should have been having serious discussions all while he grew up on how and what he was going to do. Not waiting till after graduation and he had no clue.

When we have children we are teaching them how to be good social citizens of the world and how to navigate life on their own without you. LIke the momma bird and her young after a certain point they fly or get pushed out the next to never come back.

My son had some issues after high school because we moved from one continent to another and he had to find his way in the new town. What he thought he could do here was not the norm and he found out about it as young adults do. I always expected him to come home with a bloody nose or a black eye just the way he was but never did. Just the personality.

While both children were at home growing up, I always mentioned to them that there would be no freeloaders in my home. You worked, went to school or joined the military. If you stayed home, you paid rent or bills and did chores. No free ride and no laying all over my furniture doing nothing but TV watching (electronic games were just coming out). So one went into the military and the other went to school. You set your expectations and work them. You guide them and let them fall and learn from their mistakes. You are not always going to be around or alive their whole life and so they must prepare.

I am sorry you are having such a problem. Perhaps you can take a few classes on parenting to help you see the error of your ways and how to possibly help break away and become an adult who live their own life. If you have other children in your home, they are watching you and him and what they will do when they get to that age. So beware of the example you set.

the other S.

PS Both my children are on their own in different states living their lives and successful. We call each other to keep in touch and I do not call to wake them or remind them of things that need to be done. I have my own life with my own projects.

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M.H.

answers from Dallas on

Stop harping at him, and stop helping him.

Never say "I told you so" or "Why didn't you...?" or "That will never work"

And never show up with money or gas or bail or upgraded internet or a paid car insurance bill. Ever.

Just listen and let him work out his own problems. You'll both be happier.

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O.O.

answers from Los Angeles on

Get his bills in his name & let him pay them himself.
Get family AAA coverage and let him wait for his gallon of gas next time.
Make it clear what he owes monthly for internet. Leave him a "bill" once per month.
Not all kids are college material. I get that.
None of us need an MBA flipping our burgers or stocking our shelves or checking our grocery order.
Buy him a Dave Ramsay book for ChristmasI about handling money.
And for his stocking? An alarm clock. He's a big boy. If he's late for work, he'll lose his job. That's a natural consequence.
You're enabling him and hindering him at the same time.
You need to let him stand on his own two feet now.
You've given him roots, taught him right from wrong.
Now it's time to give him wings. Let him fly. He might crash, but he'll get back up stronger.

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S.H.

answers from Denver on

You're still treating him like hes 15. This is what should have happened around 15/16 with the banking and a job. Now he is 18 and yes you want to help, you want to give him all sorts of great advice. The thing is he won't listen. I never did. I had to fall on my butt and pick myself up again. Don't worry if he is mad at you he will get over it when he realizes that life is damn hard without mommy picking you up everytime you barely trip.

Its apparent that he wants to be an adult. Let him. Im not saying totally back away but wait for him to come to you now. Even then you don't have to bail him out of a bad situation, one that he got himself into. You can even sit him down and say Hey I realize you are 18 and want to do things your way, and I'm going to respect you in doing so. However, I cannot come to your aid when things go bad. I can help but I won't be able to (given the situation) fully get you out of it. You are old enough to make your decisions and learn from them. So going forward I will no longer get on you about your banking, as long as you pay me what is needed each month. This is all on you now but you can still come to me as I am your mother. If I am to give you this respect to be an adult I in turn expect you to respect me and thank me for things that I do go out of the way for to help you. I am not bragging that I helped but a simple thank you is all that is needed.

Now this is when you back off and let your baby learn how to fly.

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L.Z.

answers from Seattle on

I'd love to hear what he wanted to go to school for. Any chance you can let us know? My mom encouraged us to do a double major or a major/minor, so we had one that was more lucrative and one that was for pure interest.

I know how hard it is to let the control go, but it sounds like it's time. He needs to do things his way...with a little guidance from you at times. These days, it's not really necessary to keep a standard check registry. You can get all the info you need online. It sounds like he's tracking his expenses better than most people by using his phone notes. You have set a good example and now it's time for him to try it his way. Just encourage him to hold off on the credit cards for a while. :) As for the gas situation. Try your hardest to listen to the issue and not save him. Ask him what he thinks he can do to solve the problem. If he suggests you buy the gas, then tell him you would be happy to help, but you'll need to be reimbursed. OR you'll only be able to drop the gas off at X time. Or whatever your conditions are. If he wants more control, he'll have to stop relying on mom when it suits him.

Try to encourage him to earn enough money to start college. It's important.

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A.B.

answers from Louisville on

It sounds to me like you are still in a mindset of raising your son, and he has entered the stage when it is appropriate to become independent. That's why he seems different, and that's why you are clashing when he has always been a good kid before.

He will resent you for it, but it is time to let him sink or swim. Don't call him to get him up for work. Don't take him gas when he's irresponsible. Don't put his bills or checking account in your name. Don't micromanage how he tracks his expenditures. If you will ease out of the role of managing these things, he will have some time where he has to learn the hard way. He may miss work, run out of gas, and get charged for overspending, but aren't the consequences for poor choices necessary to teach us to make different/better choices?

Ideally, as parents this is what we've been working to instill in our children up to adulthood: that choices have consequences and that freedoms and privileges come with responsibility. Stop being afraid of his reaction to you and think of what he needs (i.e. real world consequences) in order to successfully transition to adulthood, and the sooner the better. Otherwise, you're right; you will be the one bailing him out for every single mistake he makes for the rest of your life, and that's not going to benefit you or your son.

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T.P.

answers from Indianapolis on

My daughter is 7 so of course I'm not there yet but I was kind of like your son at his age. I wanted to be an adult without having adult responsibilities. My mother stopped everything. She stopped getting me up in the morning and stopped worrying about how I tracked my money. She did sit me down to tell me she was not going to help any longer and told me the consequences of having bad credit. I also had to pay a few bills but like your son didn't have to pay rent. Once you stop he will start to appreciate all you do for him.

I would like to add if you son never thanked you for the things you did for him as a kid (like buying that special toy or taking him to McDonald's on a special occasion) don't expect a thank you now.

Right now he wants to be the grown up so let him. Good luck.

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P.R.

answers from Cleveland on

You mean health insurance or life insurance? Why does an 18 year old single guy need life insurance? So kind of wonder about this post...

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

I don't know.
Growing up is a gradual process.
Ideally you give him more and more responsibility over a period of years starting around 14ish.
They act more mature one day and regress to childish behavior another day.
But over all it's a 2 step forward 1 step back thing and eventually they mature.
(Well most do - there are some few who NEVER grow up.)

It sounds like you and he have been jerking each other around.
For the gas - get him (or have him get) an AAA membership.
They'll bring him a gallon of gas if he runs out - and he'll have to wait on them if/when it happens - and the waiting will help him remember to keep his tank topped off.
It will keep you out of that particular loop.

The video - kids need to rebel to a degree to establish their independent identities.
MOST will realize that although they need to separate themselves to a degree - they ALSO realize how good they got it - parents act as a safety net too.
Being angry at his friend is displacement of your anger onto a 'safe' person for you to be angry with.
People watch videos all the time - they don't always listen/agree with them.

As for rules - make some.
Negotiate them - put them in writing - date them (they expire at regular intervals - 6 months is good).
He's 18 and he needs an exit plan - a plan that will ultimately have him becoming an independent adult - living on his own.

He's going to make mistakes - we all do - he'll learn - sometimes the hard way.
Let him.
Do not rescue him - he'll sink or swim on his own merit.
And he'll eventually have some pride in doing these things himself.
He's got to become self reliant.
He can't do that if you (and grand parents) won't let him.

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W.W.

answers from Washington DC on

ETA1: oh my word!! my headache must be keeping me from seeing things!!

I will admit our direct deposit is the first pay period but we're a small company. But still...your son has been coddled and it needs to stop!

ETA: okay - I copy and pasted your post...

WOW!! I'm sorry - you've coddled your son wwwwaay to much!! Why on earth did you get him gas?? Sorry - I would NOT have done that. He's driving. He knows his gas gauge and should have been prepared. He KNOWS you will come to his "rescue" - sorry - you need to STOP.

No more calls to find out if he's awake. Tell him he has 60 days to save to find an apartment and move out. He's an adult. He needs to start acting like one.

Eating out on the weekends?? Stop asking him what he wants. Too bad. So sad.

The video?? Further proof your little boy isn't a "little boy" any more. Tell him he wants to be an adult?? GO!! FLY AWAY!!!! Cut those apron strings mama!!!

If your son goes negative and doesn't have the money?? TOO BAD!! YOU DO NOT BAIL HIM OUT!!! This is life. This is what happens when you don't teach your kids financial responsibility and show them how to handle their money.

I'm not sure what "good job" an 18 year old has with a high school education. Why is he not in college?? What did he want to do that he couldn't make a career out of??? If that's what he WANTED to do and they are teaching it?? Let him LEARN on his own...stop controlling him and giving him...you stated "we've never had any rules" - damn - that's your problem right there - all people need rules...

Let go mama...cut those apron strings and let him fly out of the nest!!! Let this be a lesson for your younger kids...start teaching them financial responsibility and how to manage money. Start making people accountable for their actions and chores in the household. This is life. I hope he knows how to do laundry and cook!!!

The respect issue?? Sorry. You have coddled him. I'm sorry that hurts to hear/read - but it's true. You allowed him to be by himself in his room playing games - did you ever bother to check what games he was playing before he turned 18???

Sounds like your son has never had to EARN anything in his life. Sounds like all he had to do was say "I want" and he got. No please. No thank you. While you can't tell your parents what to do with their money? I would tell them that he needs to learn how to be an adult, please don't help him out.

Original
Welcome to mamapedia!!

I'm sorry - I could not read your whole paragraph. It's OKAY to break it up..

I stopped at "opened checking account" - I will probably cut and paste your post so I can break it up and read it and come back to edit my response.

Your son is 18. Tell him he has to pay rent or get out. Simple at that - he's an adult now.

If you are JUST NOW teaching him about money? It's a tad too late. This is something he should have been dealing with since he started getting an allowance. My kids have savings accounts and know their balance. They have the Visa Buxx cards as well - and know how to use those.

I'm sorry. Tell your son to pick up finance classes at the local community college. But he's 18 and a legal adult. He can be out on his own.

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R.M.

answers from San Francisco on

Whoa, mom, calm down. This isn't as bad as it seems. You are not losing your son.

What you are experiencing is pretty natural and normal. You've been lucky that you've never experienced it until now.

1) Your son is going to have to be allowed to do things his way. You can suggest a check register one time, but after that you have to be quiet and allow him to use his phone, if that's what he wants to do. If he gets overdraft fees, he will learn. It took my daughter being charged $100 in overdraft fees for her to learn. I did NOT rescue her by paying the fees. She had to feel the pain of losing $100 before she figured out a way to manage her bank balance (I still don't think she keeps a check register, however).

He's been sheltered, so now it's time for you to back off and let him learn how to be an adult, and he will make mistakes along the way. You have to stop hand-holding him to his job -- if he was an honor roll student then he is certainly capable of handling his job without mommy taking over.

In brief, you HAVE to allow him to be an adult and make mistakes. So stop mommying him.

2) Set your rules and boundaries. If he is going to live in your home, then he must abide by certain rules. Those are:

He is not allowed to be rude to you.
He is not allowed to be rude to his grandparents.
He will pay for X, and he will not argue about it.
He will be courteous, and say thank you when appropriate.
He will do X to help out around the house.

And those should be your rules for him. Other than that, let him start making his own decisions. You have been probably just a little too involved, but I understand that it's hard to know, especially with your oldest, when it's time to back off. But it's time to back off, now. And only rescue him from any situation once, and only if he's polite about it.

You write, "all I wanted for him was to do the right thing and not mess things up." He's not messing up, he's a young man beginning his journey, which will be paved with numerous mistakes. And mistakes are great learning tools.

You write, "my fear is if this gets too ugly, he'll never bother with us again."
Don't worry. Even if your son becomes more remote for a while as he learns how to be a young man, he will definitely come back to you (unless you can't back off and let him be an independent person). But you have to give him this time to separate from you. Separation from their parents is a necessary part of their growth, so that they can become self-sufficient and someday bond with other partners.

If your son is unwilling to abide by your rules (which should be something like the ones I suggested above), then help him find a place with a bunch of roommates, and help him move out. Kids learn SO MUCH, so quickly, once they are on their own -- I personally think it's a blessing if you can send them on their merry way at 18. That's one of the best reasons for college, even if they are pursuing a degree you may not think is relevant.

Setting rules and boundaries will not make your son hate you (although after reading the other responses, someone pointed out that your kids should hate you at least three times. Very true!). He might "hate" you in the moment, but that's not permanent.

However, you have to stop micromanaging him. And if he keeps being outright rude, like blaming you for his gas problem? Then find him some roommates, mom. No 18 year old young man, who is old enough to go off to war, should be sitting around the house blaming his mother for his lack of gas in his car.

There will be growing pains, but it will turn out fine in the end.

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M.D.

answers from Washington DC on

I didn't read all of it because it's too long, but I think I got the basic points out of it.

At 18, he should have already learned a lot of these things and been made to be responsible. My 11 year old would plan better than he is to make sure she was covered.

He should have had a bank account set up from an earlier age, worked (even if it was mowing lawns) from an earlier age, etc. He should absolutely be paying bills/rent if he isn't going to school and still living in your home.

I have had jobs that pay immediately, and do not have the processing time that a lot of places do, typically these were large corporations that had the cash flow to do this, so I get where he could be paid immedaitely. Still though, he needs to be wiser with his money.

I do NOT keep a check register at all. I use my budget sheets to track our spending...he needs to find a way for him to track his spending, but it may not be a check register.

And I really think you need to back off. He's got to make some mistakes on his own to learn, and he won't do that with you on top of him the way I gather you are. Let him breathe, let him fail, he will be just fine.

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M.R.

answers from Seattle on

It's not too late to go to college!!!!

You are really ambivalent in all your thoughts and actions.

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C.F.

answers from Portland on

Why is his first job at 18?
Why is his first bank account at 18?
Why is he living with you rent free when he has a job and is 18?
None of this makes sense.
Why can't he go on his banks website each day and check his balance and look at how much he has spent?
If he doesn't want to contribute, make him move out and take care of stuff on his own.
You should have been having him learn how to use a bank account and work and be self reliant for several years now.

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C.B.

answers from San Francisco on

He's treating you with an entitled attitude because he feels he is entitled. You said it yourself that you never had any rules, so I assume he also had no family responsibilities/chores. Also, you said your parents would give him their last dime and literally gave him everything he asked for. So, his attitude now should be no surprise.

Time for tough love. If he wants to be an adult and if he wants to disrespect you, then let him be that adult. Quit paying for ANYTHING for him, including his breakfast, lunch and dinner UNLESS he pays rent plus additional for meals. Slow that high speed internet down and bring the bill down to what YOU are comfortable with. You no longer owe him ANYTHING.

He will get angry; he may even move out - gasp!!!! But he will calm down and he will come back and guess what? Long about the time he turns 30, he'll understand. Wisdom comes with age and experience - right now he has neither.

If you continue to let him treat you with way, he will. He can only treat you the way YOU allow him to.

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S.F.

answers from Phoenix on

Your son is acting like a spoiled punk because he's gotten away with it all this time and it's worked well for him. You can't all of a sudden decide your son needs to be respectful and responsible when at the same time you are his personal alarm clock and give him anything he wants. This change needs to start with YOU. Toughen up mama.

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E.B.

answers from Beaumont on

Seems like he's been too sheltered. Sometimes we have to fall on our face to learn our lessons. This may be where this needs to go....If he's graduated, making good money etc., it seems that he needs that independence. He probably needs to move out and learn on his own.

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S.S.

answers from Chicago on

I went through an awful lot of similarities.I probably could track each thing you have said and compare something that went on in my son's life, too.Although it was a tad younger. He had one nasty boy telling him not to listen to us, what do we know? He had friends egg him on and he broke up with his girlfriend WHO he really loved and they abandoned him and he had no girlfriend left. I was afraid of the same things.Oh I thought I would lose him. He moved out for awhile and realized it isn't easy out there. But we had to do things to get a change.They really truly think they are entitled a lot in this day and age. Just like a little person, you have to give him consequences. He doesn't have gas. Oh well, (unless you need the same car-then he can't use it). We had AAA triple A auto protection, he had to call them when he was stuck. It killed me one time, he had broken down and I was at work. I wanted to go save him, but I didn't. He had to call them and wait. Another time he had a flat tire, well, sorry he had to get someone to change the tire since he couldn't do it himself. He is turning around, I could tell you a million stories. He is thriving in so many ways because we had to do these things.. He is back at home. Not easy either because he is now twenty four, but I think he is doing well. Good luck!

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J.S.

answers from St. Louis on

Pam, I see your health insurance and raise you direct deposit hitting his account after only two weeks work. Even if they were paid weekly it wouldn't have hit his account until next week.

Check register?

Still I think the best is the idea a kid who has never worked a day in his life could get a good job with just a high school diploma when so many college grads can't find work.

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G.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Here's what I think.

Write it down on a chart. Show him how much your internet would cost for your needs and how much it is for his needs. Then put the dollar amount out to the side that shows the difference. Having a visual chart might be more influential to showing him how much his bills are.

But you changed the game on him. You told him, out of the blue, that you wanted more of his money. By not sitting down and talking about bills and what he needs to manage out of his income you suddenly told him he was going to have to give you more money to pay for the extra internet speed. He felt like you were a money-grabber. He could pay for that but he shouldn't be paying you more than 1/3 of his take home pay. Period. That's how much a family should budget for their housing and bills while living at home. That's my opinion since he's not paying rent, utilities, car payments, insurance, food, clothing, and more. 1/3 of his take home pay should go towards housing including all bills.

I think it's odd he has a life insurance policy. I'd cash it out and use it for college. He will have many years of gainful employment with insurance and retirement all being taken out. If you want him to have a life insurance policy you need to manage that and have yourselves listed as the person to get the money so you can pay for a funeral if that need comes up.

By the way, if he wants to go to college to be a dog walker he'd be out of your house and in college learning a trade or at least taking the basics and perhaps come in contact with interesting things and change his major. That happens ALL THE TIME.

If you are low income he can get financial aid. If he was such a good student he should be able to apply for scholarships too. Then if you're not low income you could pay for his college or at least part of it.

He is super smart and wants to go to college but you shot him down. He might have gone to a few general ed classes and found another major and ended up making you proud.

Also, he's making money and only received one check. He's going to make mistakes. This is normal. I never used a check book register, ever. I used the online services and kept instant track of my money. As soon as the check cleared I knew to the penny how much I had in the bank. I saw no need to do double work. It's not needed anymore. Everything is online now.

As for his friend that is posting about stuff going on in your house I'd un-follow him for a while and just put it out of my mind. Kids are always going to see things differently than an adult would.

I'd leave him alone about grandparents too. It's his childishness that's coming out over that. When he has his own home and family he'll understand about housing where you can't have others stay with you.

As for the gasoline. He should have filled up. Was he broke? Then he needed to learn a lesson. You rescued him and he didn't learn anything. He might have run out but it was all your fault. No ownership of his not doing what he needed to do. He wasted his gasoline playing with his friend then ran out...so? You came to the rescue. He could have stopped and got a couple of gallons to make it to work then back to the station at lunch. He could have also asked you for some money to buy gasoline before he went to work.

Here's my thought about his wonderful job. It's way too far away for him to live with you and drive it each day. It was 30 minutes for YOU to drive there in non-rush hour traffic. Gasoline is way too expensive for him to work this far away. It's not cost effective unless he moves closer then he's still not going to make enough to live on his own. He might be able to get a roommate but unless he knows them he's might not get a good person.

It sounds like he needs to go to college and learn the information that will help him have a career. He should start applying for financial aid and scholarships now so he can start in January. He seems to succeed in academia.

I guess I don't have a lot of good advice for you but I do see some areas your family could come together and make progress in moving forward.

He sounds like he's not had opportunities to make choices and learn from his own consequences. He needs to do that while he's living at home so he has your support in case he needs it.

Perhaps you can feel good about the things you guys have done and try to make sure you remember you've had a good relationship with him.

He is a legal adult and might pack his bags and move anywhere he wants. You don't really want that because he doesn't sound ready. He might be completely be ready though. Mother's do have a tendency to want to protect their kids and he sounds really protected.

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D.B.

answers from Boston on

Welcome to this site - please consider using PARAGRAPHS in the future so we can read this and make sense of it.

It seems like your son is very young and sheltered - the grandparents gave him everything, he's never had a job, he never had a checking account, and now he's 18 but you are making sure he's up in time because he's not mature enough to set an alarm and has never had to take responsibility. Then you switch viewpoints entirely - you want him to pay for certain things, you set a contract, and before he has a chance to get used to it, you're adding more onto it for internet.

You have to understand that kids use college for more than job skills. They use it to practice being away from home, responsible for certain things (getting to class on time, getting to meals during meal hours, learning to live with a roommate, learning to do laundry before they run out of clothes, learning to talk to professors without Mom and Dad there, and learning to manage their spending money. Meantime, room, board and tuition are covered by the parents. Instead of letting him go and develop skills (no matter what his idea was for a major - a huge percentage of kids change their minds), you took that opportunity away from him despite his honor student status, and told him he couldn't do what he wanted of this future but had to stay home with you. Now you want him to be instantly responsible, and to enjoy being home with you while so many of his friends are in college, and you want him to be entirely grown up and grateful (with no practice) and yet you wake him up for work and take him gas.

You have to decide! You go back to your original agreement of what he's supposed to pay for and stop with the internet for right now. I'm not sure why he has life insurance unless you want him to get off on the right foot and be responsible. But a manual check register? When he was a teen, did you go over this with him to help him develop the skills? Did he watch you balancing your checkbook every week? If not, how in the world is he supposed to know how to do this? He's not writing checks (although he should have some which I assume came with his account - if not, find out why you went to a bank that doesn't do this. He's probably using a debit card, right? Why can't he use his on-line access to his account to see every single purchase he makes? Secondly, why is he paying YOU? He needs to pay the insurance company and the cell phone company and whatever else - put the bills in his name and have him set up on-line payment access. This is 2014 and kids are not going to write checks and put stamps on envelopes. And they don't need to.

And all of this "I'm upset and losing him" has happened in 2 weeks, because you want to talk about his future and you have not prepared him for anything? I really think you are totally unrealistic. No one flips a switch and goes from dependent, indulged teen to full independent adult. He's stuck at home because YOU decided his dream wasn't sensible enough to merit HIM going into debt, so he's home with not so many friends (because so many went to college) and he's feeling his way now. Give him a chance. You want him to instantly be independent despite zero preparation? He needs to get used to the idea of getting to work. If he doesn't get up, he's going to get fired. Stop babying him - but set this up like a contract, writing out what he's responsible for and what he's not. And he needs to buy gas so he can get to work on time.

SO, you make a list of all expenses. You put them in 2 columns - what you are paying for, what he is paying for. He can see the whole picture and get a sense of what things cost and hopefully feel fortunate that he has small responsibilities. However, you make it clear these are important. Then you tell him that, in 3 months, some things will change and he will take on one more bill - but make it a bill he can pay himself. If he's paying YOU, then you are still in charge and that's not making him responsible for his relationship with companies like utilities, insurers, etc.

Stop with the drama and expecting him to say thank you all the time when you never demanded this from him in the past, including with his grandparents (whom you allowed to spoil him). Admit that you never gave him the skills to do basic bookkeeping, and that he's just learning to be an adult -- at best he's had one paycheck. He has no idea how fast the money goes.

But if he's an adult, then you have to start letting go. He's late to work and gets reprimanded? Oh well. His problem. He's out of gas? Oh well, his problem. I agree with the post below that you are hindering him and enabling him at the same time - you are not consistent at all so he is totally confused. That means he's going to make some decisions you don't agree with - but you have to find a way to live with that without saying he's disappointed you and hurt you so much. This is really largely your failure to adequately prepare him with skills as well as a clear set of expectations and no changing of the rules before he has a chance to get used to the deal you laid out.

So sit down with him, admit where you were wrong, listen to him and see where you can let go (check register would be a good start, along with getting him up for work). Then give him another area of responsibility that doesn't involve money - his laundry would be a good one if he's not already doing it. Let him know where he needs to step up to the plate and where you are backing off. And you can learn from this so the other kids don't have the same problem - they are absolutely watching every step you all take here.

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D.F.

answers from New York on

First take a deep breathe.. everything will be okay. It sounds like you love your son a lot and he is just seeking independence and respect. He wants to be treated like an adult and is getting frustrated that you may not always trust him to make the best decisions. I think you should let go alittle bit. If he decides to run his friends around and runs out of gas, I would tell him to call AAA. Then let him pay for the service that it cost. He will soon realize that making bad choices comes with real consequences. Let him make his own mistakes and learn from them. Respect him and let him. Give him honest advice and guide him the best you can but do not control him or not let him try and fall on his own. He is going to be just fine. If you dont like the career he has chosen to pursue in college then show him facts. Show him how many people on average graduate with a certain degree and how many of those people succeed in getting a job in that field. Show him numbers and reason with him. If you are really against it then I wouldnt cosign for any student loans and let him make that decision fully on his own. Support him and be there for him. Do not support his bad decisions but do let him make them if he insists. I bet youre a great mom, and he im sure he'll respect your advice.

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K.B.

answers from Philadelphia on

It sounds like he was raised privileged. He was a good kid with great grades, never got in trouble. That's all great BUT he wasn't taught how to survive as an adult. You started too late... after he graduated high school. He should have gotten a job when he was first old enough to work, even if it was on weekends and taught how to manage his money then and learn responsibility then.

Now he's in the "I'm an adult" stage. Now that you're trying to teach him as an adult he is going to rebel. He didn't have to rebel before because you did everything for him before. So it is going to be a tough road now and he needs tough love. He's turned against your parents because he knows they'll be there for him like they always have. He's acting like a spoiled child because that's what he is.

Tough love time. You need to add up everything that he owes for things he uses PLUS contribute to the house for food and shelter. If he doesn't have gas to get back and forth to work then he can walk or call a friend. Welcome to adulthood! He pays his bills and rent to you AND does chores around the house. Make him a list. Then make a list of what it would cost for him to go out and rent his own place and the fact that he'd be doing ALL the chores at his own place. If he cannot calmly accept your terms then give him 30 days to find his own place and put his bills in his name.

This is what we did with our oldest who is now 27. He's married with a 6 year old today. They get ticked for a while but they eventually come back and they must come back on their own.

We have a 19 year old in the house now who graduated from high school last spring. We are doing this same thing with him now too. He slacks up now and then with his chores and we get on him. We're coming near to another change in agreement. He lives with us because he will be going to college at the first of the year. He couldn't start in the fall. But if he doesn't go to school in January he will be asked to leave. We aren't teaching him anything if we let him slide and coddle him. We refuse to be one of those parents who have their 35 year old son living in the basement while he plays video games all day. Blah! Be an adult or get out, plain and simple.

And college? All you can do is give him advice. He either takes it or leaves it. If he wants the bills for something he won't use then that's on him. At no time can he come back and blame you when you did all the right things. It's all on him. Welcome to being an adult!

K. B
Mom to 5 including triplets

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