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Can I Protect My 19 Year Old From Failure

by Cari

I have written before about my 19 year old son's drinking problems. He has had 8 drinking related arrests in the last 15 months. FINALLY he is on probation and is doing some jail time. Here are my upcoming choices that I feel I can make to help his future be somewhat successful ...

He is attending college in the fall and is to be getting an apartment with 2 "friends" that are big-time drinkers as well. I was honest with the landlord that my son has a "history" with arrests and if she did a background check she would see this. I told her he is ordered to wear an alcohol bracelet and needs to stay sober, but I wanted her to know since she had asked about any criminal backgrounds.

As I dropped my son off at the courthouse this morning, it was so sad to see what has become of him. Once an aspiring young athlete with a bright college career, now sitting amongst people who were born with no chance at life. Here is my dilemma: If the landlord will still accept these young men as tenants, I feel like bending the truth with my son and saying he wasn't accepted because of his background.

My son could still attend college while living at home (a different city campus as the others .... so also a bonus). Why would I do this? If I were on a diet, the last place I would hang out is in a candy store. I feel like letting my son live with these friends is also setting him up for failure with accessible alcohol and the temptation to party. What would you do? Answer

Hi Cari

That's quite a dilemma you're faced with, and while your intentions are no doubt good, is lying to your son really the best way to handle this? Because lying often has the habit of coming back to bite one down the line, no matter how good the intention.

Remember you still are the parent, and also assuming you will be paying the rent, you can simply be honest and say you're not allowing your son to stay with his friends ... giving all the reasons why.

Tell him because he's continuously made bad choices before, you're simply not ready to give him that level of trust yet. Remember consequences - this is a consequence of his previous decisions, and until he's shown that he really has turned things around, you're not going to allow it.

Don't do it in a condescending 'parent talking to a naughty child way.' Have a rational, calm adult-adult conversation giving your reasons why and that it's up to your son to show he's matured and learned from what happened before. Because until he's shown he can take responsibility for his life, you're not prepared to give him that level of freedom ... at least not while you're still supporting him in any way.

Of course nothing you do guarantees anything, and you can never fully protect him, no matter what you do. Because if he wants to drink, he'll find a way. That's why with human nature, the only way we really learn is from our mistakes, and coming to the realisation that 'I don't really want to do that anymore because I don't like what happens when I do.'

But its your call. You're the parent and you need to make a decision that feels best for you. No one else can tell you what to do because no one else is there to really understand the decision you're faced with. You have to trust your judgement and as long as you've thought the implications through, go with what feels right for you.

Good Luck

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