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Is Tough Love The Only Answer?

Dear Janet,

I am at a loss.  I just found out my college junior son dropped most of his classes for the semester due to failing grades.  He dropped three classes two semesters ago for the same reason.  I don’t think the reason is drugs or alcohol.  I think there has been too much social activity and not enough study activity though.

My husband warned him last year he would not continue to pay for tuition and living arrangements if he did not put the work in and take his classes seriously.  Now, with the news our son has dropped all of his classes except one this semester, my husband has informed him he will not be paying for any more.

I don’t think our son believes him yet, but I do.  I understand my husband’s feelings, and I do want to support his ‘tough love’ position.  Yet, I want my son to continue his education without interruption.  I’m afraid he won’t go back if he takes six months to a year off.

Should I have a ‘you’re going to have to get a job’ talk with him for the upcoming semester?  I don’t want him to have to take time off, but maybe that is what is needed for him to take the situation seriously and learn adult responsibility more directly.

I know he won’t qualify for any scholarships, and I know our income is too high for him to qualify for grants or assistance.   Is there another way, short of him leaving school, to handle this?  Your advice is appreciated.

Tracey in Florida


Dear Tracey,

It sounds like you want him to finish college, you don’t want him to take a break, you are afraid he will not go back if he has to take a break, and you are afraid he can’t pay.  It sounds like you want all this more than he does.

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Janet Schlegel
Janet Schlegelhttp://www.soulworkcounseling.com/
JANET Schlegel is the Owner and Founder of Soul Work Counseling in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She specializes in trauma and relationship issues.

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