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Parenting --Teens/19 year old flunked out of college


My son is a very intelligent but immature 19 year old. He was attending an excellent engineering program until last week when we were informed that he failed English for the 3rd time and did not maintain a 2.0 average hence dropped from the college.  We noticed that since Middle school that he was not doing his homework or studying. Most of the teachers said that he was supposed to be the valedictorian but doesn't apply himself.  Due to his intellect, he was able to do well in school anyway.  In high school, his teachers were becoming frustrated with him as he did not complete assignments or did sloppy work.  Needless to say, my husband and I were always talking to him and provided him with various strategies but he took nothing to heart. He always said that he would do the work but never did.   He did very well on his SATs and ACTs hence he was accepted to all the schools he applied to for college.  He is a good and happy kid. He was never late for a curfew, rarely asked for us to buy him anything, but just seems unmotivated to do things that teenagers do. He doesn't seem to have any dreams. He wanted his drivers license at 18 but never really asked to drive, so he still doesn't have a license.  He seems interested in girls but doesn't have a girl friend. He spends his days playing sport type video games, watching season long episodes of comedies and brain teaser type games.  When we ask him what he wants for the future he says "I don't know".  He does not think about his future at all. Not even tomorrow! Again, not depressed, tells us he loves us, just not motivated or interested in finding out what he wants in life.  HELP!

Hello Caroline,
I'm sorry to hear about the lack of motivation in your son and the distress this causes you.
Since he has been dropped by the college, then he must do something. That means go to work.
I would suggest that you tell him he must find a full-time job within 30 days. If he doesn't, then you must cut off all privileges he enjoys at home.
Obviously, he can not just play video games for the next few years as he leisurely tries to find himself. He might "find himself" more quickly if he were working at a less-than-desirable job.
Any questions?
James Windell

Parenting --Teens

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James Windell


I am a parent trainer, psychotherapist, and author specializing in parenting issues.During the past 40 years I`ve worked with parents with discipline problems and challenging children. I give frequent lectures and workshops related to discipline, social skills, and aggressive children. I consult with various agencies and schools where there are child behavior problems. I am listed in the American Psychological Associations` media panel as an expert on parenting and am frequently quoted in leading magazines and newspapers.


I have worked in a juvenile court as a clinical psychologist and as a psychotherapist in private practice. In the Oakland County (MI) Juvenile Court, I developed an award-winning parent training program for parents of adolescent delinquents. In addition I have done group therapy with adolescent delinquents using a social skills-building model. I have consulted with courts, schools, churches, preschools, and domestic violence shelters in areas of parenting.

I received my BA with a major in Psychology in 1963 from Wayne State University. I got my MA in Clinical Psychology from Oakland University in 1972.

I am a member of the American Psychological Association and the Michigan Psychological Association. I have written pamplets, newspaper articles, and professional journal articles. I have been the Coping With Kids columnist for several newspapers for 26 years, and my columns appear weekly in the Staten Island Advance. I have been the author or co-author of 16 books. My books include, 8 WEEKS to A WELL-BEHAVED CHILD, CHILDREN WHO SAY NO WHEN YOU WANT THEM TO SAY YES, 6 STEPS TO AN EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT TEENAGER, and THE FATHERSTYLE ADVANTAGE. My most recent parenting book (2012) is THE EVETYTHING CHILD PSYCHOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENT BOOK. I have appeared on over 180 radio and TV shows related to my books and parenting. For more information about me, my books and columns, go to my website at

I have an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Oakland University.

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