Question: Dear Luise: I don’t know what to do with my son, he is 18 and dropped out of school and is doing nothing, he applies for jobs when he feels like it. He has not motivation, he told me 2 months ago he was abused by a babysitter for 5 yeas sexually which I feel is a huge part of the problem, he said he didn’t tell as they said they would kill him, he refuses to report them as it has been 9 years. When I make suggestions for counseling he gets angry and defensive. I am afraid he wont do anything with his life. He does have friends but they seem to be going nowhere too. What can I do? P.
Answer: Dear P.: Your son isn’t motivated to address the past. In that case, the door is going to remain closed on it because you can’t do it without his cooperation. If he has been abused and refuses to seek counseling, your hands are pretty much tied.
There are a lot of kids out there going nowhere. They like to band together, of course. There’s strength in numbers. It’s time to let your son know that to stay with you, he will have to start supporting himself. Free room and board enable laziness.
Sometimes people who drop out of school do very well. Such cases are definitely in the minority but those who learn to take responsibility can succeed. Choice is the issue. Your son is old enough to make his own choices and to learn from them. If he decides not to go anywhere with his life, that is about him, not you. You’ve done your best and remain on his side, should he decide to straighten up. You just can’t make him do it. Sexual abuse may have caused serious damage but it can also be used as an excuse. Not facing up to it and working through it is adding to the damage and is self-destructive.
In the face of his decisions, let your son know that you are behind him and will support him if he goes back to school, stays there and finishes but any other program will have to be funded 100% by him. Then hold that line. Blessings, Luise