Bailing out your son in university is not the answer
Q: Our son is just finishing first year university. We just discovered he was barely attending his classes this past semester and likely won’t get his grades.
I read online about other parents who chipped in to help with their son’s essays to just get him through so he wouldn’t fail. Do you think that is a good idea? A: This is a far more common issue than most people think. However, the current situation is often the outcome of an otherwise indulged lifestyle where the now adult child hasn’t yet learned to fend for himself. If your son keeps getting bailed out this way, he won’t learn coping skills because he doesn’t have to.
However, given that his university education is at stake, he must have some skin in the game and take responsibility for the outcome. Bailing him out isn’t the answer unless you also want to buy him a car, pay his insurance and have him live in the basement indefinitely while you do his laundry. Assuming there are no mental health issues, I think it may be time to pull the plug on support that he isn’t using wisely.
You may want to set stipulations for his next year if he returns to university. These can include him paying at least half of his full-year tuition — or having him cover the cost of the first semester with you paying for the second semester, assuming that all goes well.
But if you believe your son has mental health issues or an addiction, then by all means do help him find treatment for those problems. The idea is not to have him languish in pain, but to offer the kind of support that facilitates his development and independence.
If you meet resistance, and you likely will, the challenge is to not cave in, regardless of whether it’s an issue with indulgence or mental health. Either way, those issues must be addressed. If parents continue to skirt the issue, things tend to get worse.
Assuming your son is healthy but indulged, you can suggest he speak with his professors to come up with a plan to make his grades. Some of them will be open to negotiating to encourage the student’s success.
If the issue is related to his mental health, then please encourage your son to look into student services for support. All universities and colleges provide access to mental health support services.
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