Annie’s Mailbox: Is my slacker son headed for a fall?
April 7, 2010
Dear Annie: Our 20-year-old son "Kevin" worries us terribly. He was kicked out of college because of marijuana use and for the past year has couch-surfed, backpacked and hitchhiked.
He visited during the holidays and, although he didn't smoke pot in our home, he did take a couple of hour-long walks to smoke a joint while talking to friends on his cell phone. He claims it is normal behavior among college-age people and politely told us we should get used to it.
Kevin doesn't see returning to college as particularly useful, since recent graduates have lots of debt and haven't been able to find work. Obtaining any sort of job has been very difficult in our area. He insists companies that hire based on a college degree are behind the times, and that life experience is more important because everything you need to know is on the Internet. He says no one cares about learning in college.
Being college-educated parents, we are concerned for Kevin's future. He is an avid reader and watches online seminars from such places as MIT and Stanford about all sorts of subjects. Should we just ignore his occasional marijuana use? Is there any way to convince him to go back to school before all his savings are used up and he ends up homeless?
—Frustrated Parents of a Former High-Achiever
Dear Frustrated: So Kevin is a smart kid, but pot has turned him into a slacker, and he justifies his irresponsibility by saying "everybody does it." This is not an uncommon adolescent attitude. Right now, it would be a waste of your money and the college's resources for him to return to school, though he may be more willing in a year or two. Seeing the world is a time-honored tradition for young adults who don't know what to do with their lives, and it's possible Kevin will gain the maturity and perspective he needs. Ask him to keep in touch and let's hope he doesn't get arrested.
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Dear Annie: My husband, children and I enjoy taking "one tank" car trips and spending a few nights at a hotel and exploring the area.
We do not live close to family, so how do we handle it when my husband's family members invite themselves on one of our trips? The last time we were out of town, my husband's sister asked where we went, and he told her. She then said, "We would love to go next time. Wouldn't it be fun for the cousins? When's the next trip so we can come along?"
She put us on the spot and made it impossible to say no without hurting her feelings. These trips are special times for us to get away and be with our children.
—Out of Gas
Dear Out of Gas: Your husband should be the one to tell his sister that these trips are for his children to have "family time," though he'd be happy to give them pointers on how to do it on their own. And once in a while, you might consider inviting them to come along. Who knows? It could be fun. But be sure they travel in their own car and get their own hotel room.