18 year old son, refusing to go to college and unwilling to find work

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Hi all,

         I have two children (2 and 18) I am on full benefits, my son is about to be kicked out of college for not turning up and not doing the work, he isn't stupid, has five GCSE's  but he is so lazy all he wants to do is play his Xbox and hang out with his friends. It sounds mercenary to work out my incomings but while he is in full time education I still receive his child benefit and Child tax credits, if he drops out and doesn't get a job I receive nothing but my outgoings will be the same, I try to explain to him the situation and its now got to the point where I have had to say that life is pretty much rubbish if you don't have an education and a good job. I would like to hear from single parents in a similar situation and how they have coped with it. My son is six foot five and taking his xbox away is just not an option, tried it and the outcome wasn't brilliant.....lets just say he has anger issues.

Posted on: December 11, 2010 - 1:31pm

Having just has a blazing row with my 19 year old, I really don't know what to suggest.  It is difficult too when you know if they leave that things will be so much harder financially.

However, if he's going to be kicked out of college, that's going to happen, isn't it?  My son was not allowed back to sixth form in the summer as he failed his science AS level.  Luckily, he got into college to do an art and design course, has settled and loves it.  He's doing well - however, attitude is something else...

Have you spoken to the college about his issues?  I don't know how much help is available though once they've reached 18.

I'm sorry that I have no suggestions here.  But sometimes you have to be cruel otherwise they'll pull you down too.


Posted on: December 11, 2010 - 2:51pm

Hi dollface

               I have lots of empathy with you on this issue, I have 2 teen girls both in college and yes the finances do come to the fore dont they, sad but true.

One of my daughters does have lets say "issues" she can be like jekell and hyde to be honest, I have found that the silent treatment works, I just totally ignore her when she is being that way with herself, it seems the no reaction no satisfaction does work best, I wasnt always like that and would argue with her about anything and everything, none of which worked and just made me more upset.

Like your son she did go through a phase of skipping lessons etc to the point that she was excluded for being downright rude to a tutor, she is now receiving anger management in college, not sure if it will work but at least she is willing to give it a go(for now)

The other thing I did use was the EMA payments, which as you know they only receive if the are attending college, when I put it to her that she would have no money if she chose not to attend that did seem to have an impact and touch wood so far she is back and is attending every lesson.

I am dreading the end of EMA as there will be little insentive then for them if they are already not wanting to go.

I do hope that knowing you are not alone in having this problem will help just a little bitSmile

Posted on: December 11, 2010 - 4:42pm
Parenting specialist

Hello dollface

Thanks for sharing this and I can empathise, as my son is six feet two!

I am going to be pretty harsh in what I say, but this is what i would do in the situation. If he is not at college and not at work then he will be claiming Job Seekers Allowance. Work out what you will lose by him not being in education any more and tell him that he must pay you this amount from his JSA (it might come to more than his JSA in which case he can give you it all, keeping £5 pocket money per week) or he must leave your home, you cannot afford to feed and keep him. He is 18, he is an adult now and must take responsibility.I know this is very draconian but my son (16) has been told if he does not make a go of the course he is on then that it what will happen. Otherwise what is to happen? Will he still be expecting you to keep him when he is 21? 25? 30?

If you want to have a look at your financial situation and work things out, do get in touch with our wonderful 1-2-1-Money advice service, who will give you information in confidence

When you say "anger issues", do you mean you are frightened of him? Is there any violence going on? if so then it is really important to deal with it in the same way that you would deal with violence from a partner.

I wonder (if there is no violence) whether drawing up a contract would be a way forward? Even if we leave the X box out of the equation, there are plenty of other privileges he enjoys such as laundry, meals made etc, and perhaps you could put those on one side of a piece of paper, and what he is expected to do on the the other (ie sign on, give you money, search for a job)

If the anger issues are really more than you can deal with, then it is time to seek professional help. Firstly have a chat with your GP and see what is available in your area. Anger usually happens for a reason, and getting to the bottom of that will help a great deal.

Keep posting and we will keep supporting you, it is very hard to tackle these problems with our grown-up children

Posted on: December 11, 2010 - 5:04pm
absent parent

I need advice on how to deal with my 18yr old son. he lives with his father, and i now live out of the country. My contact with him is limited and reluctant since he stole our house keys whilst we were on holiday, and had a 'skins' type houseparty in our home. the house was trashed and all of our personal stuff destroyed.

he moved college due to his moving in with his father, and started again. he is already on his final warning and is now going to be kicked out for inappropriate language. he was like this through school and was constantlyexcluded.

despite all of what has happened in the past i do want him to be happy with his life and just don't know what to do.

he has been to hypnotherapy to see if he has a point in his past that he cannot get over and he has had counselling from the Connexions people.

Any ideas?

Posted on: January 25, 2011 - 8:56am
Parenting specialist

Hello absent parent

Welcome to One Space!

It is hard for you to have much control over what goes on when you are living so far apart. Are you able to have civilised conversations with his Dad? How does he see the situation? Are you able to speak with the college tutor or email them? They will have support services there.

The counselling sounds like a good idea, how did your son get on with it? There is also counselling through Relate for young people whose parents have separated.

However there is a point in a young person's life where they have to take responsibility for their own actions. He is 18 now and a man. Please see my reply to dollface (above). Sometimes it is about getting tough and forcing the young person to face the world and how they would fend for themselves.

I wonder if you have heard of an organsation called MATCH? They offer support to Mums who live away from their young people. This is so hard for you, I know, and it must be so frustrating not knowing which way to turn.

Posted on: January 25, 2011 - 9:16am

It's so hard when they're 18.

I can understand you wanting him to be happy though.  I sometimes struggle with my 19 year old.

Posted on: January 25, 2011 - 6:17pm

My son is 19 he kindly agreed to doing an additional 2 years at college on the basis that he got EMA in order that I continued to get tax credits and child benefit for him. this was so his sister could do her 2 years 6th form to get her grades for UNI. He is not happy that next year he wont get EMA to go and expect me to give it to him instead, but i cant afford to give it to him and to her, but i do see his point.  He stayed on to do me a favour as as soon as they both leave non advanced further education I lose so much in child benefit and tax credits i will no longer be able to afford the extortionate rent i have to pay as £750 rent out of a net salary of £1100 does not leave much, gas and elec is £85, council tax is £95, petrol £80, car ins £20, I am sure you all can see the issue now.

Posted on: February 17, 2011 - 11:52am

I understand where you're coming from with this.  It would be the same here too.

My eldest knows that if he wasn't at college he would have to get a job and pay housekeeping to cover the cost.  Getting a job now though isn't easy though, is it?

Posted on: February 17, 2011 - 3:07pm
Parenting specialist

Yes the cancelling of EMA is leaving a number of families in a pickle.

My eldest worked 18 hours a week as well as college as it was the only way he could get through (before EMA) and in fact helped me out with a contribution.

Jennie65, are you getting every bit of help you are entitled to, eg Housing Benefit? if you would like some individual money/budgeting advice then click here

Posted on: February 17, 2011 - 6:26pm

Although I have no experience with teenagers (besides being one!) So do feel off for commenting, but, supporting what Louise said - a weekend or part time job should be encouraged when they're over 16. and dividends from that to you to cover their expenses) Hell I'm planning on suggesting mine do paper rounds and car washing soon as they're in double figures.

My mum always made my life easy. She put an emphasis on education. She was happy to give me money whilst at uni - although it was at this point I became financially independant from her. I have to say though, it was not through hard graft and a job. It was through stress (drug use I don't like to admit to) a break down and entering the mental health system.

My mum is my role model, in London she worked her way up through accounting companies from secretary(15k maybe less) to IT trainer (22k+). She has little qualifications.

Spending a similar amount of time in the british education system you leave with 22K of debt and no job. Education is great, but education + part time job is superior.

Posted on: February 17, 2011 - 9:23pm

In an ideal world it would be lovely if all our teens could get part time jobs as we did when we were their age, sadly there are no part time jobs around and the ones that are are snapped up by people who really need a full time job but are settling for part time so our teens stand little or no chance, my 2 girls have tried everything and with luck one might have something soon.

Posted on: February 17, 2011 - 9:53pm
Parenting specialist

The other thing I have noticed about people who want/need to work fulltime is they are taking on two part time jobs and cobbling them together....it is the only way they can be in work but of course that means that two students do not get those jobs. The hardest thing is for a young person to get their FIRST job. Once they have some experience and a work reference, there is a better chance when they apply for something else. My youngest works for Sports Direct but some weeks he only gets four hours work (£20). Better than nothing, but I still have to help him out with clothes and fares

Posted on: February 18, 2011 - 8:46am

 the one sentence that i repeat to myself nowadays when im dealing with people that are either being rude,horrible ,annoying. Even when its a loved one is, people only treat you the way that you let them. So in a way its worse when it is someone that you have invested your life into. You have to be strong as this young man will go on in life thinking he can treat women like this.  Stop cooking, cleaning,washing, any domestic chores for him. Only give back what u get. If he is civil be civil back. If hes nice be nice back. Teach him now fast you get what you give. stick to it. You fetched this young man up what gives him the right to walk all over you. Every day you will get stronger.

Posted on: February 18, 2011 - 11:07am

Hi tas. How old are your children?

Posted on: February 19, 2011 - 5:30pm