What do we do about a son who failed his college classes and lied to hide the fact?


I am writing for advice on my son who is 18. He went away to college which my wife and I help pay for, in addition to a scholarship he obtained at the Christian college. He finished up this semester but failed two classes. He has a chance to earn the credits back if he goes to the winter classes in which we can help pay for him to earn his scholarship back. He has to have a certain amount of credits earned in order to keep the scholarship. Having the scholarship helps because it is less expensive for my family.

The problem is that he lied to us around Thanksgiving and said everything was fine. Then he denied everything after coming home for the Christmas break this week. My wife and I received the notice from the school and the option of earning credits back if he were to return in the winter semester. I confronted my son and he told us that he just was goofing off and didn't apply himself -- including missing classes. He lied to us and failed college so in my mind this requires a severe spanking. My wife and I want to make sure the seriousness sinks in as we have two other children at home who will eventually be going off to college.

My other question is do you think we should help him with the winter semester?

We have taken the car away from him and I told we would address this once we decided how to handle it.


I don't believe spanking is the best answer to your situation, except possibly in addressing his lies concerning his status at school. Your son has told you what the problem is: he goofed off. Thus, he doesn't see the need for a college education and is expecting a free ride. It is time your son quickly face the reality of life and grow up.

Let him know that you want him to get a college education, but such an education is a privilege and not a right. Let him know that if he loses the scholarship, he also loses your financial support. The cost of the winter semester is on his shoulders. You already paid for his classes this fall and he wasn't a good steward with the funds. Thus he must bear the financial responsibility of his mistakes.

If he decides to drop out of college, tell him that you are sorry about his choice, but now that his education is done it is time for him to assume full responsibility for his own life. Help him locate a reasonable and affordable apartment. You might want to consider paying the first one or two month's rent. Move his things out, shake his hand, and say "God be with you." He will very quickly learn that living on his own is expensive and requires a lot of hard work. Don't let him whine to you about the difficulties in his life. Tell him this was the life he chose; he needs to learn to be content with it. Don't bail him out. The lessons he is learning are critical for the remainder of his life.

If he wants to move back home or remain at home, tell him that he is welcomed to live at home so long as he is in college. However, since he lost the scholarship, you will only help pay the portion you were paying before; the rest will have to come out of his own pocket.

You mentioned taking a car away from him. I also look at driving as a privilege. We told our children that we want them to drive, but they will assume the cost of driving. Each has paid for their licenses and they pay for the increase in our automobile insurance. They are allowed to borrow the family's car, but if they want their own, they have to purchase it. In this way, they have financial incentives to keep a good driving record and to maintain their automobiles.

Look at it this way: Your children must learn to live on their own. You can't be rescuing them from their failures while they are in their thirties. Give them opportunities to stand on their own two feet. Only when they have earned their place in life can they feel good about their accomplishments. For further information, read through the lessons "An Industrious Worker" and "It Takes Effort."

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