What SHOULD you and what SHOULDN'T you tell an 18 yr old to do?


#1

Some Background:

18 yr old son, (only child) goes to local college, lives at home, no car, job on weekends 12/hrs (but EATS his earnings).

He is driven to school 4 days a week, takes car to work on weekends, pays for gas if other than work/school.

Was diligent, straight- A, social student with perfect attendance in HS. Had a couple close friends who are now at distant colleges.

Here's the problem: He spends between 3 and 7 hours a day playing "Call of Duty". Which, if you don't know, is an army/war/fighting/shooting, game. He plays online with friends and "friends". By "friends", I mean people he "meets" in the game. They talk to each other thru headsets. There have been some nights he has played 7 hours and sleeps 6. He has to get up at 6:45 for school, but falls asleep in the shower, in the car on the way to school (I am driving:)). He will come home and run right to the game.

We have told him the repercussions etc. (he needs a 3.25 to keep his scholarship. We can't get a straight answer from him on what his grades are and I honestly think even he doesn't know). He has a health club membership and only goes maybe once a week. Doesn't know many people at school, since he is a commuter, joined a couple clubs but stopped going.

We kept a log of his hours played. 32.5 in one week. That's more time than he was in school, more than he worked at his job. He barely does any chores. Always tells me "later" and when later comes around he is telling me has no time for that stuff, because he has homework to do or now its 1:00 in the morning and he is too tired and want to sleep.

He plays in our basement. If mom or dad go down there, he is mean and aggressive and doesn't want us interrupting his time to answer questions, etc. He is now foregoing family dinners out, movies, just about any family time. He also has a potty mouth when playing the game with his friends. Yuck.:mad::mad:

I advised/told him he needs to stop playing less, join a bowling team, go to the health club, let's watch a movie or play a board game, but it's always either no thanks or maybe later, which never happens. He says it's not about the game, it's about his friends on the game. He even has a "interest" in a girl who plays online and lives 5 hours away! I overheard him say he wants to drive to meet her (not with MY car:eek::eek:)

He says it's*** his life***, it's his time he is wasting, he is not bothering anyone (which is true. house is too big to say his playing is disrupting myself or my husband.). But I lay awake at night worrying about the lack of sleep he is getting and the fact that he will probably forget to brush and floss tonite because he is too tired to even think about it when he finally does get off the game.

It's like his goal in high school was to get the excellect grades, keep his perfect attendance and get the scholarship. Now that he has done all that and "arrived" he has regressed to 5th grade! He is unsure of what career he wants- (something in medicine). He is also paying for most of the balance of his tuition. I have explained over and over how he will lose his scholarship, etc. He says he'll be fine. Stop worrying. Leave him alone.

Regardless if he gets the 3.25 and retains his scholarship, this is driving myself and my husband nuts. It's all the kid does. Do we have the right to limit video game playing of an "adult"? And if so, how do we go about doing it?

I hate the phrase "it's my house do as I say or move out" because it is so alienating. It was said to me as a teen and I was being abused. It made me feel like I belonged nowhere. So please don't suggest that. IT IS MY HOUSE, I know, but it should be his soft place to fall. I guess it's too soft now, huh?:shrug:


#2

[quote="lovedbyHim, post:1, topic:218892"]
He plays in our basement. If mom or dad go down there, he is mean and aggressive and doesn't want us interrupting his time to answer questions, etc.

[/quote]

No way, Jose. He and his Xbox console would be out the door today. If he's such an adult, he can live on his own. Honestly, this is not acceptable and if you allow him to talk to you that way, he will.

[quote="lovedbyHim, post:1, topic:218892"]
He says it's*** his life***, it's his time he is wasting, he is not bothering anyone (which is true. house is too big to say his playing is disrupting myself or my husband.). But I lay awake at night worrying about the lack of sleep he is getting and the fact that he will probably forget to brush and floss tonite because he is too tired to even think about it when he finally does get off the game.

[/quote]

That's cr*p. It is YOUR house. Set out the expecations of what he will do while living in your house:

(1) He will do the following chores WITHOUT being asked or nagged: X, Y, Z
(2) He will interact with the family in the following way: X, Y, Z (such as eating meals, goign to Mass, going out together once per week or whatever)
(3) He will pay for the following: X, Y, Z
(4) He will spend the following amount of time studying: X
(5) He will limit his playing time to Y amount of hours

If he doesn't like it, honestly Mom, the free ride is over. He can go out and get a full time job and support himself.

[quote="lovedbyHim, post:1, topic:218892"]
he has regressed to 5th grade!

[/quote]

As have many males in this country. Unplug the game and tell his butt to get out and get a full time job. If he can play 32.5 hours of video games he can work 32.5 hours and support himself.

[quote="lovedbyHim, post:1, topic:218892"]
Do we have the right to limit video game playing of an "adult"? And if so, how do we go about doing it?

[/quote]

Of course you do. That game console would be at Goodwill tomorrow if it were my house.

[quote="lovedbyHim, post:1, topic:218892"]
I hate the phrase "it's my house do as I say or move out" because it is so alienating. It was said to me as a teen and I was being abused.

[/quote]

You are not abusing him.

[quote="lovedbyHim, post:1, topic:218892"]
It made me feel like I belonged nowhere. So please don't suggest that. IT IS MY HOUSE, I know, but it should be his soft place to fall. I guess it's too soft now, huh?:shrug:

[/quote]

Well, mom, if you don't want to tell him how it is going to be, then stop complaining about how it is.


#3

Regarding a soft place to fall, I agree that for those who try and fail your home should always be a soft place to fall without an "I told you so."

But, for a child who is lazy and playing video games as if it were his full time job, you need to give some tough love. He has all this time because your expectations of him are too low.


#4

:yup:
what he said.
you make the rules for what he must do and when, he gets to choose to follow your fair rules, or he gets to choose to get out and figure it out himself. you don’t want to run his life, but he may not act contrary to your house rules in your house – he is not acting like an adult so he doesn’t get to be treated like a mature adult.


#5

1ke is dead on accurate, in partiuclar their last statement to you.

*Well, mom, if you don't want to tell him how it is going to be, then stop complaining about how it is. *

Look, I'm 31, and I like video games too. But 32 hours a week?! When I was his age, when I loved video games, I never even came CLOSE to that amount of time.

Show him the ropes.


#6

This is really bad.

18 and in college, he should be getting his act together and acting like an adult. These next few years are his chance to slide into respectability and responsibility while mom and dad hold a safety net under him. Kids need to make maximum use of this time, not squander it away.

Wasting time with other losers (sorry, it just came out) playing video games all of your waking hours is not the way to achieve independence. It's the path to living in mom's basement when you are thirty.:eek:

It is not only his time he is wasting. He is wasting your time as well. Time worrying. Potentially your retirement years if he prolongs leaving.

(Disclosure: I have a 20 year old college student in the basement! But, he's really striving to be successful and to launch himself)


#7

I think it's great that he has time for a full time job as it turns out... So he can get one, and move out.

Games are hugely addictive. He's not going to just stop. This I guarantee. Personally, I would put a block on the computer set up (if possible), so that the necessary websites couldn't be accessed in the house.

It's one thing to give your child a hand up... but not a hand out. A stay at home college student, needs ground rules.

If they want to live like a tenant... then you need to establish those. Example, as long as his rent is on time, and he's not messing up the house, he can use his rented room for anything that's not drug related.

If he wants to live as a family member who is being supported... but working to be a big boy... then a different set of rules. When I lived at home for college, for example, I had certain chores that needed to be done. I did NOT have a curfew, but I had to respect the fact that my parents would want to know that I'm safe. So, if I was going to come in at 2, I was to tell them. NOT ASK PERMISSION... I also had a 25 hour work week plus 18-21 units. Now, I did ask my dad to carry me finanically my last semester as my job was interferring with grades. But we came to an agreement, and I save lots of $$ prior to that so I could cover my regular bills. He bought gas and food and such.

18 is old enough go die for our country... So, I'd keep that in mind and act on that... as opposed to sitting in the basement pretending to be honor worthy... Jeez

ETA: I used to be a former recruiter. If a college grad that didn't work (12 hours a week doesn't really count) didn't carry a 3.8 or better... he/she didn't get in the stack to move forward. I was lienent with college grads that did well enough, that also worked their way through school.... Got to think of the future!


#8

He is acting just like an addict or an alcoholic. When something like video games becomes the MOST important thing in one's life, and is causing neglect of other responsibilities, it's an addiction. The war games are VERY addicting to most males. I would think the visual effects could produce an adrenaline rush very like the real experience of combat. That physical response can be very addictive - look at all the extreme sport junkies.

But your son is not going to recognize his problem right now. You could do one of two things:

Leave him alone, but let him know that the conditions for him living at home are that he fulfills his standards at school and work. That 3.25 to keep his scholarship should also be the threshold for staying at home and getting a free ride. You have to set some boundaries or he will be in your basement for much longer. He will crash - there's no way he can keep up with his studies and play games 32 hours a week. It's impossible.

Or -

You can force the issue and get rid of the game console. This is like pouring out the alcohol for an alcoholic. It might work for you, it may not work for him. He will most certainly get very angry because you will have taken away his recreational "drug." It NEVER works with alcoholics, I am not sure it will work with video game addicts. He could always go to a friend's place and keep playing.

Me, I'd lean toward the "hands-off" approach. But you know your son, and you may know a way to reach him - can his dad start coaxing him out of the basement for father-son time? No, he won't be studying but if his dad is a man of honor, after a while son will realize he's been under a spell...

Oh, and social activities are essential. The isolation of playing video games (those "friends" aren't in the room, after all, but are like voices in your head) is very destructive.

Says the woman who spends way too much time advising others on this forum....Yes, I see the plank in my own eye quite clearly...


#9

Has he considered joining the real Army and doing war for real?


#10

[quote="lovedbyHim, post:1, topic:218892"]
Some Background:

18 yr old son, (only child) goes to local college, lives at home, no car, job on weekends 12/hrs (but EATS his earnings).

He is driven to school 4 days a week, takes car to work on weekends, pays for gas if other than work/school.

Was diligent, straight- A, social student with perfect attendance in HS. Had a couple close friends who are now at distant colleges.

Here's the problem: He spends between 3 and 7 hours a day playing "Call of Duty". Which, if you don't know, is an army/war/fighting/shooting, game. He plays online with friends and "friends". By "friends", I mean people he "meets" in the game. They talk to each other thru headsets. There have been some nights he has played 7 hours and sleeps 6. He has to get up at 6:45 for school, but falls asleep in the shower, in the car on the way to school (I am driving:)). He will come home and run right to the game.

We have told him the repercussions etc. (he needs a 3.25 to keep his scholarship. We can't get a straight answer from him on what his grades are and I honestly think even he doesn't know). He has a health club membership and only goes maybe once a week. Doesn't know many people at school, since he is a commuter, joined a couple clubs but stopped going.

We kept a log of his hours played. 32.5 in one week. That's more time than he was in school, more than he worked at his job. He barely does any chores. Always tells me "later" and when later comes around he is telling me has no time for that stuff, because he has homework to do or now its 1:00 in the morning and he is too tired and want to sleep.

He plays in our basement. If mom or dad go down there, he is mean and aggressive and doesn't want us interrupting his time to answer questions, etc. He is now foregoing family dinners out, movies, just about any family time. He also has a potty mouth when playing the game with his friends. Yuck.:mad::mad:

I advised/told him he needs to stop playing less, join a bowling team, go to the health club, let's watch a movie or play a board game, but it's always either no thanks or maybe later, which never happens. He says it's not about the game, it's about his friends on the game. He even has a "interest" in a girl who plays online and lives 5 hours away! I overheard him say he wants to drive to meet her (not with MY car:eek::eek:)

He says it's*** his life***, it's his time he is wasting, he is not bothering anyone (which is true. house is too big to say his playing is disrupting myself or my husband.). But I lay awake at night worrying about the lack of sleep he is getting and the fact that he will probably forget to brush and floss tonite because he is too tired to even think about it when he finally does get off the game.

It's like his goal in high school was to get the excellect grades, keep his perfect attendance and get the scholarship. Now that he has done all that and "arrived" he has regressed to 5th grade! He is unsure of what career he wants- (something in medicine). He is also paying for most of the balance of his tuition. I have explained over and over how he will lose his scholarship, etc. He says he'll be fine. Stop worrying. Leave him alone.

Regardless if he gets the 3.25 and retains his scholarship, this is driving myself and my husband nuts. It's all the kid does. Do we have the right to limit video game playing of an "adult"? And if so, how do we go about doing it?

I hate the phrase "it's my house do as I say or move out" because it is so alienating. It was said to me as a teen and I was being abused. It made me feel like I belonged nowhere. So please don't suggest that. IT IS MY HOUSE, I know, but it should be his soft place to fall. I guess it's too soft now, huh?:shrug:

[/quote]

I have a son who could easily fall into this so this is what we have decided to do:

  1. We have told him no living in our basement after h.s. graduation
  2. We have told him he must live at college - no commuting from home (it is waaay more fun and every kid I know that commuted struggled with meeting new friends and becoming a part of the college community)
  3. We have told him that if he chooses not to go to college, which we will pay for, then he is on his own. We have spelled it out for him very clearly (not that it sinks in, but hey we try! :p) how much car insurance, gas, rent etc will cost if he does it on his own.
  4. We have taken him to many college campuses/football games etc in an effort to get him excited about college life.
  5. Some kids don't have the courage to go to - or the knowledge about - what college life is like. If he doesn't have an interest in a trade, then get him off to college!
  6. Your son is worth the investment - put in the time and money and get him off to college. Don't wait for him to come around to the idea.
  7. Many kids would choose to do what your son is doing - that's why it cannot be an option.
  8. Best wishes!

#11

If it is "his life" then drive him to the Armed Forces recruiters and let him chose where he is going to live "his life" as he morphs through the "maturity phase" of his growth cycle.


#12

[quote="lax16, post:10, topic:218892"]
I have a son who could easily fall into this so this is what we have decided to do:

  1. We have told him no living in our basement after h.s. graduation
  2. We have told him he must live at college - no commuting from home (it is waaay more fun and every kid I know that commuted struggled with meeting new friends and becoming a part of the college community)
  3. We have told him that if he chooses not to go to college, which we will pay for, then he is on his own. We have spelled it out for him very clearly (not that it sinks in, but hey we try! :p) how much car insurance, gas, rent etc will cost if he does it on his own.
  4. We have taken him to many college campuses/football games etc in an effort to get him excited about college life.
  5. Some kids don't have the courage to go to - or the knowledge about - what college life is like. If he doesn't have an interest in a trade, then get him off to college!
  6. Your son is worth the investment - put in the time and money and get him off to college. Don't wait for him to come around to the idea.
  7. Many kids would choose to do what your son is doing - that's why it cannot be an option.
  8. Best wishes!

[/quote]

He already IS in college, but is neglecting his studies to play this war game.


#13

LovedbyHim, I'm afraid I have some bad news for you: your son is brain damaged and a drug addict.

Science has proven that the part of the brain that controls judgment and impulsiveness gets damaged by hormones during puberty and adolescence. Science also shows us that people can become addicted to the rush of endorphins triggered by some video games, just as gamblers can become addicted to the dice.

My son exhibited many of the same behaviors as a pre-teen. I curtailed his gaming, limiting his to playing on weekends, and then only after he had done all his chores and asked permission to play. When he broke the rules, he got his gaming privileges suspended – once for six months.

Teenagers are like donkeys. If you've ever had to deal with a donkey for any length of time, you know you have to carry a staff to whack the donkey in the head – not to punish it, but to gets its attention. (They have very short attention spans.)

I suggest that you lock up the game system and games; when he asks you what happened to them, explain that you disassembled the system so that you could talk about his activities.

First, tell him you love him; if you didn't, you wouldn't object to anything he did (or didn't do) because you wouldn't care.

Tell him you'll be happy to restore the game system to him at the end of the academic term, when he shows you his official grade report showing a 3.25+ GPA. If he objects ("You can't do that!"), remind him (firmly but charitably) that as the homeowner, the law assumes that everything in your house belongs to you; you can do with it as you please. Even if he bought it with his own money, YOU pay for the Internet connection; you can drop it with a phone call.

Remind him that as your dependent, he has a duty and an obligation to yield to your legal and moral authority; when he does something self-destructive, you have every right to intervene.

Tell him your expectations: eating with family, going to church, doing his homework, socializing (in person) with family and friends of the family. If he objects, remind him that you have these expectations because you love him and want to be near him.

If he refuses to accept your authority or conditions, remind him that at 18 he can marry or enlist at any time without your permission; the decision is up to him.

All during the conversation, it's important to confirm your love for him, and that everything you are saying to him is out of love and concern, not a desire to control. Tell him you're willing to turn him loose if he doesn't think he can live under your authority any more (you really can't stop him from leaving, anyway).

Here's the tough part: Follow through. If he decides to leave, give him a zip-lock bag with any medicines he takes, his toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, and a comb. Give him a trash bag with 5 days worth of appropriate clothing. Take his house keys and show him the door. Kiss him on the cheek and wish him well; then close the door with him on the other side.

If he comes back, welcome him, but sit him down and reiterate your conditions for living in your house. Be loving but firm; you are in control, not him. If he relents, kill the fatted calf, but keep the game system locked up; if not, let him stay for dinner, but show him the door afterward.

Yes, it hurts. It hurt you to give birth to him. It hurt you to discipline him when he misbehaved. It hurt you to watch him fall and scrape a knee. Being a parent hurts; if you don't know that by now, you never will.

It hurts to be an adult; he needs to learn.


#14

[quote="lovedbyHim, post:1, topic:218892"]
Do we have the right to limit video game playing of an "adult"? And if so, how do we go about doing it?

[/quote]

Really? Do you really need to ask?

Act like a parent and remove the game, TV and his private phone lines from your home. As you state he's acting like a 5th grader - treat him as such.


#15

I don't want to sound like I'm passing judgment, but your son is somewhat spoiled. Does he help out with chores, errands, contributes money to the household, etc.? When I was 18 my parents thought I was horrible because I wasn't able to get all the chores done at once. Sheesh.

If he wants his life and doesn't want to respect you, he can move out. Period. Sometimes I wonder where young people, especially those of my generation, get this idea that they're so entitled to everything. When I was 18, I was hardly allowed to even leave the house to go to the movies with friends, let alone actually sit down and have a few hours to relax and play a game!

rcwhiteh said it best IMO.


#16

Just as a word of hope -- the 18-19 years were the ONLY years I had trouble with my twin sons. I'm not sure what happens at that age level, but it was a hard time in our home, too. The good news is, they finished school successfully and lead wonderful lives now -- those few months are only a distant (bad) memory.

They were both in college and both working part-time, but I tightened up the money I provided in order to make them more self-sufficient, and they ended up working more hours. They had to maintain a 3.5 average to keep the car they shared - it was a big threat and it worked. They paid for gas and insurance and bought their clothes.

I hate giving advice online, but here are a few ideas that I'm adding to the good advice you've already received.

My kids grew up before gaming, (although there were other distractions then), and I agree that there can be an element of addiction in all forms of internet use -- you can probably find some good advice on this subject online (not meant to be funny, sorry...) or with a local or college counselor who specializes in this particular problem. If it's eating up that much of his life and affecting the family dynamic and relationships, it serious enough to be treated as an addiction. I agree that if he's playing that many hours, he can certainly work more.

There are notebook computers you can buy that make it really hard, if not impossible, to play games online -- it might be a last resort technique if he doesn't cooperate. He'd still be able to use it for school and research, but the small notebooks lack the power and interfaces needed (in many cases). Something to look into.

If you're cooking for him, doing his laundry or cleaning his living area - stop. If he eats meals with you, that's great - but the rest should be on his own, even if you do provide the food. If he's eating more than the rest of the family, have him kick in money to supplement the food budget. I think it's fair to insist on at least one or two meals as a family in a week.

I agree that home should be a safe place to fall always, but it's also the parents' biggest job (in my opinion) to produce an independent, right-thinking and -acting adult. The more you do for him, the less he's learning the lessons of independence. He's "acting independent" now without any of the real responsibilities.

Compared to the way I see my kids and their friends parent, I was probably way too hands off -- but I really believe in kids being independent and learning life lessons and consequences -- I did, they did, and it worked.

Good luck to you -- I hope you have a solid prayer life sustaining you and your family in this tough time and I wish you the best.


#17

Your son sounds exactly like my brother, except he is 20 years old now and has flunked out of college because he spent all his time playing video games instead of studying. Ironically, he was trying to get a degree in video game design. He spends similar amounts of time on video games (between 40 and 60 hours a week) and always forgoes interacting with family and friends in order to play video games. His meals are all eaten in his room in front of the computer. He works part-time at a bakery and spends all the money on video games, and without a degree he really can't expect to get anything better. My mom plans on keeping him at home until at least his mid-20s, maybe even longer.

My parents have been in complete denial about his video game addiction and how it has ruined his life since they got him his first video game system in middle school. If you don't do something to stop it now, your son will end up with no life and no future like my brother. Unforunately, at 18 it may already be too late. You have no legal control over him and he knows it. His habits and personality and well ingrained at this point and he will only change if he wants to. I really hope you can work something out, and if I knew of anything that could help I would have already done it. I know firsthand how hard it is to watch a loved one run their lives into the ground over a virtual game. I wish my parents had stepped up to the plate and nipped this in the bud when it started to become a problem because I feel like video games have taken away my brother. He is not the person he used to be and I hardly ever see him because whenever we make plans, he always flakes out at the last minute because he says he would rather play a video game.


#18

1ke,

(on a regular basis, you save my cheapo nail job lots of wear and tear.) from the mother of FOUR adult men i attest to the accuracy of your initial post. it's a slam dunk.


#19

[quote="monicatholic, post:18, topic:218892"]
1ke,

(on a regular basis, you save my cheapo nail job lots of wear and tear.) from the mother of FOUR adult men i attest to the accuracy of your initial post. it's a slam dunk.

[/quote]

Glad I can do my part to save your nail polish!

I really wonder about the future of our country with the state of so many males today refusing to leave adolescence.


#20

I really wonder about the future of our country with the state of so many males today refusing to leave adolescence.

perhaps this is not the philosophical direction you'd like to go 1ke, but to my thinking, radical feminism (which began as extremist and quickly became norm) hasnt helped our men a single bit.

many young men are NOT growing up. perhaps to a feminism-infected culture , that's a happy outcome...?


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