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Any advice for a mom of a 19 yr old son who has no direction?

Started 1300223084.953 in Among Friends | Last reply 1300339797.863 by 4paws

My 19 year old son is going to the local community college. He has a nice outdoor job for the summer, which is designed for college students. He makes quite a nice hourly wage there - its to help college kids. If he quits, he loses his summer job.

He wants to quit. He struggles and doesnt see the purpose because he has no idea what he wants to do. He has no direction or guidance. He doesnt feel directed one way or the other - doesnt have any skills, necessarily, that he knows of, talents, or even desires to learn something or be something in particular. He just doesnt know.

It's depressing. I feel for him. I used to worry about myself when I was in school (high school) - what was I going to do with myself? What do I do? What am I good at? But I just fell into a govt. job after high school that I've been able to learn and grow and move up in.

I just don't know what to tell him. I suggested seeing a counselor or advisor at the school. I hope he gets help. He's also seeing a (family-type) counsellor and I told him to bring this kind of thing up with his counsellor as well.

Any advice? What would you do? What have you done? Where do we go for help or inspiration?

Thanks, friends.

"It's never too late to be who you were meant to be."

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esmerelda1300223247.44314409 PostsRegistered 10/6/2004

See the nearest recruiter.

Nothing fuels bravery more than the lack of the will to live. ~Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932: A Novel (Francine Prose)

ennui1300223837.40319957 PostsRegistered 4/17/2007
On 3/15/2011 esmerelda said:

See the nearest recruiter.

Exactly what I was thinking! I recommend the US Navy. Or the Coast Guard.

"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things." ~ Robert Brault

coopey1300223961.83180 PostsRegistered 1/14/2010

I understand your frustration. Although I have no children, I have a 21 year old nephew who does absolutely nothing! No school, no job, nothing! I cannot stand it. I went to school, worked all the time and so did his father (my brother) He's a good kid, never into trouble, but he has absolutely no ambition and his parents are not pushing him enough. THey have the dreaded "divorce guilt" which I think is a poor excuse. It makes me so upset and frustrated, he need to do something with his life.

teachergal1300224136.513341 PostsRegistered 8/7/2010Central MI.
Do not encourage him to leave college. An education is necessary in today's world. He should finish comm. College and then look into a technical school that offers a wide range of hands on training in various careers. I wish you the best with your son!

bcreative1300224238.577925 PostsRegistered 10/6/2004
I really feel for you! I used to be a college guidance counselor/internship coordinator & I think this current crop of young people are having the hardest time finding their way inyears! Just look at the tough times we are in for seasoned adults! :( I too have a college son who is searching to find his way! Our kids are spread out in age & our older 2 (30 & 27) & they & their peers are very successful & didn't go through this "lost" period that I'm seeing so much of during this current age group!? I agree that career counselors/ internships coordinators & recruitors are great places to start & it's great that he's already seeing a regular counselor, that will help! I trust they will find their way.....these are just challenging times for so many!! Best of Luck!! (I hope this posts ok its the first time I've tried posting from my iPhone)

I May Be Creative, But I Don't Have A Clue!!

southres1300224325.26244 PostsRegistered 5/1/2008

I agree wholeheartedly with the previous 2 posters. My 2 sons had no idea what they wanted to do after high school. My husband is a Marine (Vietnam) and always encouraged the boys to consider the military. Long story short, both entered (2 years apart). One in the Navy...got an unbelievable education in the nuclear field and has landed a super job in the field. My youngest entered the Coast guard (8 years ago) and is enjoying it. He's in the special forces which is an incredibly physical job. All the branches have something to offer. Good luck to you and your son. I know it's always hard to guide someone, especially when they are somewhat "lost" about their future.

manny21300224354.621786 PostsRegistered 3/11/2009
On 3/15/2011 ennui said:
On 3/15/2011 esmerelda said:

See the nearest recruiter.

Exactly what I was thinking! I recommend the US Navy. Or the Coast Guard.

No don't let him do that unless he has that deep desire to serve. I respect and admire these kids that decide to serve this country. But it is not a cure for someone that has no immediate direction. Tell your son to stay on the path and it will come to him. The first two years of college are a turning point for some, and you are only taking the required classes. Don't let him quite just because he is struggling, if he stays the course the struggle will be worth it.

ROMARY 11300224366.95720092 PostsRegistered 4/28/2010

I'm wondering if taking a type of career test might point him in a direction that would interest him. The school/college, I believe, would offer these tests. Friends of ours (their sons) took career tests and found they were better suited to a particular area, which they followed and are now very happy. (They were college graduates and didn't use/need any of their college education classes.) Sometimes people just don't know, but find out later, what their interests really are.

Yellow Rose

hugsandkis­ses1300224389.5971247 PostsRegistered 5/1/2007
On 3/15/2011 esmerelda said:

See the nearest recruiter.

Thats terrible advice. You should recruit because you have a desire to do so - not because you can't figure out what to do with your life?


Its tough for kids and parents alike today. I feel for you. As a parent, one of the things you wantand try to foster is that your kids find thier way into the direction of thier dreams or desires.

I think you are on the right track by letting him know its something that he and his counselor should discuss. Hes only 19, and while I am aware"back in the day" most people were married by then blah blah blah ....and had kids at 21. Its just not that way today. I think it would be a mistake to quit his job. He needs to look at his job as a stepping stone to opportunities and skills that he can put under his belt. Being Proactive is the best way to put yourself in the path of opportunity. I would also look into career couseling both within the school and outside the school. If your seeking outside help I would do the footwork yourself and then offer the opp. to your son. And expose him to things...Computer graphics, Anything out of the box to stimulate interest or see where his interests lie.

And maybe does he have a male figure who can try to open up to? Sometimes advice is best heard when its not coming from Parents.

I hope this helps !

Be well, wishing the best for your son.

"Sometimes good things fall apart so that Better Things can fall together"

Brabls1300224430.31714740 PostsRegistered 4/27/2007

When I was feeling "directionless" my folks told all of the family that only modest Christmas & Birthday gifts were in order: let me live on what I earned.

I did & found my direction real fast. Fortunately it was easy for me to get scholarships. I took jobs pumping gas, working in nursing homes, cleaning hotel rooms, etc. I finished my undergrad degree in 3 years before I headed off to law school. Poverty is a great motivator.

ChoosandMa­nolos1300224707.675013 PostsRegistered 7/2/2006

It's tough, but you have to make sure you don't enable him. If he wants to quit school, he HAS to have a full time job, and a time frame to get an apartment on his own. Make sure he gets the "big picture" before he quits. Make sure he knows what groceries, car ownership including insurance, and rent/utilities actually cost in reality. Then have him go on Craigslist and look at jobs and see what jobs with no skills and no training pay ($7.50 per hour, maybe $8 if he's lucky). Then make him do the math. Let's be generous and say $8, that's $310, minus takes, "might" take home $250. Now take that 1K per month and take out the rent and food...maybe he will see that he really does need that education. Seeing the campus career center is a big help. Any education is not wasted. Maybe what he has studied so far hasn't interested him...he needs to consider some course work in different disciplines until he finds what does.

It's very difficult as the mom...we want to protect, but at age 19 we need to start encourging true independence...and that is scary.

dazzlingdi­ane1300224750.417120 PostsRegistered 4/24/2006

My son was in high school when he became interested in our local rescue squad. He started volunteering and 10 years later, he's still there. He enjoys the camaraderie and being able to help in the community. He holds down a full-time job in addition. Your son may be interested in doing the same thing, or becoming a full-time fireman. He might also learn a trade, e.g. carpenter, electrican, mechanic, etc. I agree that a counselor might be the place to start. (We did that too.)

MopsyGirl1300224827.232576 PostsRegistered 2/15/2008

Great advice here. I just wanted to echo the idea to visit the school counseling office, where they offer career counseling (usually for free at colleges). He can take some tests that show him where his strengths and interests lie, then the counselor can point him to some jobs within those areas. There is lots of information about the type of education/training needed to enter specific jobs. His other counselor could also be very helpful with this. I think sometimes kids feel like they have to pick their lifelong career right now and feel a lot of pressure not to make a mistake. But sometimes, it's good to get going in a direction that interests them, knowing that they can make changes if they don't like it. I do hope that he will finish his education, though, as I doubt that is something he will ever regret.

At 19, though, there is just so little you can do as a parent. You can offer your support and your ideas, but ultimately, this is something he'll have to figure out on his own.

celticdream1300224937.6835 PostsRegistered 12/11/2010Chicago

I agree...Military!

When I got out of high school I had no clue what I was going to do with my life. Didn't care about college, jobs, etc. I went into the Air Force and that was the best thing I could have done. It gave me not only direction but disapline and the drive to do things in my life. I feel directing a child to the military is never a mistake.

gameon1300226482.5374241 PostsRegistered 6/9/2007

Greeneyed....when i was working with vocational counselors....they would give people aptitude and personality tests to help them get to know themselves. Surely there is a counseling office on your child's college campus? There could be a fee for this but if people are seeking direction it can help them see who they are and what direction they could head towards. HTH

leehare1300226642.4631805 PostsRegistered 4/7/2010

He probably does need to stay in college-if for nothing else (in his mind)to learn to finish what he started, he most likely will reap the benefits later on-Many jobs are gotten simply because you have that degree-no matter what it is in-because it does mean you persevered. A degree is excellent for the military also. Quitting school =you must work and support yourself.

Also remind him this is the last almost free ride he will ever get in his life. And to take full advantage of it.

If all else fails give him a cut off date-move totally out date, be self sufficient date, we have nothing else but love to give you date. It worked for us.

domel1300233789.563595 PostsRegistered 8/21/2010

I myself would not be encouraging my child to join the military during a war and if you did gently push him into it and god forbid something happened, you may not forgive yourself. I knew some people who came out of the military and believe me, it didn't necessarily make them grow up or become responsible adults.

I do not agree with your son not having direction but keep in mind, a 19 year old by today's standards is still VERY young. Other than your son, have to really paid attention to the kids today (from high school graduation to about 25 and even 26), they still act like teenagers. I would definitely tell him he needs to stay in school or get a job or no money. It is easy for all of us to say but the more money you give him, the less motivated he will probably be.

di-mc1300234240.657676 PostsRegistered 12/4/2006the real world

The military is a great idea. Many young men figure things out quickly when they are in the military. My husband is a great example! He did 4 years in the Marines, went to Vietnam, came home (thank God) and enrolled in college. He finished his BS in Electrical Engineering in 3 years and during those 3 years, we had 2 babies. We were very busy!!

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.
Alexis de Tocqueville

Trishthedi­sh1300234296.863431 PostsRegistered 7/20/2010La Jolla, CA

There was a good article in yesterday's Wall St Journal about paying for college. It said it was important for the kid to take part in paying for school, so they'd appreciate it more. Do you make your son pay for any of his tuition? Any other expenses? If it's too comfy at home, he'll want to stay at home. Give him a push and make him accept some responsibility for his choices. Being a student is much easier than real life- let him discover that on his own.

Good luck.

Marienkaef­er1300234635.445715 PostsRegistered 12/15/2008Beautiful San Juan Islands

First, encourage/stress/emphasize/persuade him to stay at the community college and finish at least a two year degree. It can be a general studies degree, but even that will help him further down the line with whatever direction his life takes him. He can also keep his job if he does this. He may feel that he isn't the "college type" or four year degree type, and that's fine. But there are plenty of jobs where a two year degree is all that's needed, especially if he transfers to a technical program.

Second, I agree with those who say to advise him to get career skills testing. There are some really great programs out there that help people identify where their strengths are and how to put them to use.

It may be that he thinks he isn't good at anything; but tests like these help people to see that they do have strengths and talents that they can utilize, and there are so many great jobs out there for skilled workers in technical fields. Maybe if he starting learning about these, he would get enthusiastic about school.

Third, he has to keep a job. Even if he decides to quit college (hopefully not), he cannot do that unless he has another job lined up.

If this happens, then you have to have a stern "sit-down" and decide on a timeline for what his goals are and how long you will give him to reach them (ie..move out on his own.) Then you have to stick to it.

If he decides to enroll in another college program or tech program, I'd say support him and let him stay at home, as long as he's working and going to school.

Otherwise, give him whatever time you think is agreeable and after that, he has to move out.

The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.--MLK

RedHeadedW­ench1300234848.4079809 PostsRegistered 10/1/2006
On 3/15/2011 ennui said:
On 3/15/2011 esmerelda said:

See the nearest recruiter.

Exactly what I was thinking! I recommend the US Navy. Or the Coast Guard.

This is exactly what I was thinking....military.

But the Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard want REALLY HIGH ASVAB scores. You almost have to max it out to get into the Coast Guard.

The Army will basically take anyone with a high school diploma and a trigger finger.

Last edited on 3/15/2011

Last edited on 3/15/2011

Be kind to dragons, for thou art crunchy and good with ketchup.

Nunu4u1300235103.3338756 PostsRegistered 9/22/2006

Have him take this short test called Myers Briggs. He will wind up with four letters that will define his personality type. Then you can take that type and search the kind of jobs that will be most satisfying to him. It will give him a start. You should take it too!


Pixie Jo1300235299.083511 PostsRegistered 7/4/2009

Career aptitude tests and a good career councelor might help. He needs to figure out where his strengths and "likes" collide.

Also, don't panic. He's still young, but needs to continue with school.

Pixie Jo

Marienkaef­er1300241477.3235715 PostsRegistered 12/15/2008Beautiful San Juan Islands

I wouldn't encourage him to join the military unless that is a desire that he himself expresses.

The military is not a "catch all" for people who cannot figure out what to do with their lives.

That may have been a nice remedy years ago for the "unfocused" kids, but now we are involved in two protracted wars coming up on ten years with no end in sight, and with more conflicts possibly on the horizon.

People are coming back from these conflicts with serious physical, emotional and mental injuries.

Unless military service or a military career are something he aspires to (and therefore fully accepts and understands the responsibilities and risks), I wouldn't recommend it as the general remedy that it was used for years ago.

(Btw, my brother is a lieutenant colonel in the Marines; I have great respect for the military, which is why I am saying this.)

The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.--MLK

Sooner1300242312.46716624 PostsRegistered 10/6/2004

A lot of kids have heard so much about "do what you love" and such and so forth that they see a job as a hobby that pays, and that can take the focus of a decision off track (I've seen this up close). Maybe if you talk to him about what kind of life he wants, what hours, what material things, what his expectations are you can focus him more on the career aspect of life. It's nice to love what you do; it's nice to LIKE what you do; but the living you make is the focus.

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