Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

My 19 y/o son dropped out of college and now his only "goal" is to be waiter.

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  • #850945 Reply
    avatarDavid
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    My 23 year old daughter graduated top in her class in nursing school. Worked for a few years and had an addiction problem and went into rehab. She has been clean for 5 months. She’s a smart girl with a good head. She has a degree in nursing. Due to her her rehab she had 90 days off work. I think she’s embarrassed to go back to her recent job do to her rehab. Graduated in the top of her class in high School. She wants to waitress the rest of her life. I’m trying to direct her into a career that she may have benefits and insurance and a 401k and I’m not sure what to do. I’m taking things slowly and I realize she may need a break right now. There’s nothing wrong with waitressing but I feel she could be much more, no offense to any waitresses that are reading this. I’m sure I’ve offended some and I apologize

    #850948 Reply
    avatarkeyblade
    Member

    @David. I think you are doing the right thing, taking it slow and not pressuring her faster than she is ready. If she’s holding down steady employment and paying her bills she might be moving at the pace she’s able to, right now. Trust her to figure out her own margins; nursing is a great field, but it tends to come with a lot of stress and access to drugs. While it would be great for her to contribute to a 401k and keep her insurance, she might need to work on herself before she goes back to that field.

    Focus on her successful sobriety. If she’s healthy and able to pay her bills and that’s the most important thing, right now. In time, maybe she will return to nursing or use her degree to set herself on a different career path. It may not be the path you envisioned but 23 is pretty young.

    If she hasn’t taken time off from school or work maybe she needs to wait tables for awhile in order to figure out a “sweet spot”. Consider how many people lose their battle with addiction every day, and just try to enjoy having her. She’s past the age where you can push her past embarrassment if it isn’t what she wants, anyway.

    #851056 Reply
    avatarAllornone
    Guest

    I took AP classes, was in the top 2% of my high school, went to a prestigious private college on a near-full scholarship and graduated with high marks. My boyfriend got average grades in high school in average classes, took a few college courses and had to drop out for financial reasons. Where did we meet? At our shared crappy retail job. Even if I had a clue what I wanted to do at that point (I didn’t), it was in the middle of the recession and jobs simply did not exist. We’ve both since figured it out- I went to grad school and work happily in the non-profit sector; he works as a residential tech for a cable/internet company. I still technically make more than him, but the room for growth at his position is surprisingly incredible, and in five years, that probably won’t be the case.

    Each path is different. People just need to find their own.

    And oh yeah- I might be more educated, but my boyfriend is the smarter one. If I had labeled him a loser because he didn’t get a good degree, I would have missed out on getting to love the greatest person I’ve ever known.

    #852153 Reply
    avatarAnn Hernandez
    Guest

    Dear Sue-
    I am sad to hear about the challenges you and your son are facing right now. It is hard when we have sacrificed to give our child opportunities only to have them throw those opportunities away. Regardless of whether they asked for us to sacrifice our not, it is still hard to have them choose not to take those opportunities. It feels like we are losing our dreams as well, like all our sacrifices were for naught. It is okay to feel angry but i suggest letting out the anger when you are alone. When you are with your son, just try to love him. I imagine that he actually feels conflicted right now and might even feel bad about hurting you. Often guys don’t know how to express those types of emotions and just react with anger as a means to protect their hearts. Try to not worry about what other people think or what their children are doing. What matters is your son and your relationship with him. Focus on what type of relationship you would like to have with him more than what his accomplishments are. I don’t know what he will choose to do in the future but consider whether you want to be included in his life or not. If he is sitting all alone in his apartment, he needs your love more than ever now. Perhaps someday down the line, he will go back to college. Even if he doesn’t, he can still have a happy life. So can you. It is okay to feel your grief at losing your dreams but don’t let them destroy your bond. That will only bring you more grief. Good luck. I am rooting for you both.

    #852230 Reply
    StonegypsyStonegypsy
    Guest

    College is not the end all be all of a successful life. I spent 4 years after hs working crappy jobs until I found something I was good at that led to an actual career. I work for a great company, make decent money, and have plenty of flexibility to pursue other hobbies and passions. I have friends who have mountains of college debt who are barely making ends meet. My parents are and have been proud of me because I was self sufficient, regardless of whether I was taking the path they would have chosen for me. If they had responded by calling me a loser and a failure, I probably would have stopped speaking to them.

    #852494 Reply
    avatarLana
    Guest

    I am in the exact spot right now. My son just told me last night that he wants to withdraw. He attends a school about an hour away so I offered to go pick him up despite the late hour. I knew he’d been struggling with emotional issues since last year and he’s been seeing a therapist for the last 7 months. I suspect he’s depressed, definitely has anxiety and is most likely self medicating with pot, although he claims he hadn’t touched any for a while. He has a full ride scholarship which he would most likely lose. I believe his drug use started when he began working at a restaurant in the kitchen in his he year of high school. If anyone is familiar st all with Anthony Boursin then you know that restaurant kitchens are rife with drug use. I am angry that my fon allowed himself to fall prey to such stupid actions. Especially since I’ve raised my kids to be keenly aware of their genetic predisposition to addiction issues on both sides of the family tree. I never sugar coated and I modeled healthy attitudes toward alcohol and any kind of medication, OTC or prescribed. Anyhow, I totally get the original poster’s rant. I doubt and hope that she didn’t actually talk to her son like that. The sacrifices she made were considerable and came from a place of love. When love is betrayed anger is a powerful and instant reaction. What is anger if not fear expressed differently. She is scared for her son. I am scared for my son. Therapy for both her and him is a great start. I started seeing a therapist when my son first started going off the rails at the end of his freshman year. It has helped. I think his therapist has helped him avoid inflicting more damage to himself. If he does come home I will set up family counseling for us. I think we’ll need guidance for sure. Right now I’m balancing between being supportive and loving and avoiding being an enabler or a doormat or financing his foolish choices (like hanging around homeless drug addicts.) I had started the process of joking a support group for parents if addicted children but I never followed up by actually going. I will now if only to gain perspective from other parents who’ve been there it are also going tutu it. The original poster might want to consider the possibility of illegal drug use or an undiagnosed mental health issue. Both often manifest side by side. One last item, since this episode in our lives began I have become aware of SO many college age kids struggling to find their way. To this end I’ve been reading “The Stressed Years of Their Lives” which came out in April. The authors are both psych professionals with kids that also struggled. Statistics seem to indicate that these crises are becoming the norm. Maybe we need to rethink the whole college right after high school track. Maybe that model works for fewer people than ever before. Considering the cost with a relatively low guaranteed ROI, I wish we’d considered it sooner instead of being swept up in the whole perfect ACT score and subsequent scholarship offers. I hope these cautionary tales reach more parents and students before it’s too late. I don’t know what the answer is but if you at least know that a problem is more likely than college admissions staff would have you believe in college visits, maybe better supports could be prepared. Knowledge is power ,right?

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