Son's in Love Too Soon
Q: My son is 18 and a senior in high school. He's living with his 20-year-old girlfriend and her family, NOT with my blessing. He has never been a standout student, but this year has been extremely difficult. I fear, with a month left, he is either going to drop out or get expelled. He has no desire to go to school. I have done my best to try to convince him to come home and go to school, but he of course thinks he knows it all. Is there anything I can do to make him realize that he is making a mistake? -- Angie, 40
Dr. Susan: It would be a mistake for him to leave school before graduating, and sometimes, as parents, we have to let our kids do life the hard way. His hormones are running wild, he's in love (or is convinced he is), school seems utterly irrelevant to him, and nothing is going to get him to put his future over his immediate gratification. Have you tried talking calmly (!) to his girlfriend's family? Surely they don't want their daughter to commit her future to a dropout with no job prospects. Sounds like no one over there is thinking clearly. Maybe they're reacting to your intensity. (Not that I blame you!)
One bit of advice for you would be to separate the two issues: His living away from you, and his dropping out of school. It really wouldn't be terrible if he remained living away from home, if only he'd stay in school and then make some realistic plans about what to do next. I suggest offering your support, emotional and any other kind you can, for him to finish school, and stop trying to get him away from his girlfriend. If there are alternative ways to get that diploma, help him find one. He may see his current choices as an escape from boredom, and he's not likely to believe you when you tell him that a heck of a lot more boredom awaits if he has a kid too soon and finds himself stuck in a dull dead-end job.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.