Dear Annie: Our 20-year-old son, “Kevin,” worries us terribly. He was kicked out of college because of marijuana use and for the past year has couch-surfed, backpacked and hitchhiked. He visited over the holidays, and although he didn’t smoke pot in our home, he did take a couple of hourlong walks to smoke a joint while talking to friends on his cell phone. He claims it is normal behavior among college-aged people and politely told us we should get used to it.
Kevin doesn’t see returning to college as particularly useful, since recent graduates have lots of debt and haven’t been able to find work. Obtaining any sort of job has been very difficult in our area. He insists companies that hire based on a college degree are behind the times, and that life experience is more important because everything you need to know is on the Internet. He says no one cares about learning in college.
Being college-educated parents, we are concerned for Kevin’s future. He is an avid reader and watches online seminars from such places as MIT and Stanford on all sorts of subjects. Should we just ignore his occasional marijuana use? Is there any way to convince him to go back to school before all his savings are used up and he ends up homeless? – Frustrated Parents of a Former High-Achiever
Dear Frustrated: So Kevin is a smart kid, but pot has turned him into a slacker, and he justifies his irresponsibility by saying “everybody does it.” This is not an uncommon adolescent attitude. Right now, it would be a waste of your money and the college’s resources for him to return to school, although he may be more willing in a year or two. Seeing the world is a time-honored tradition for young adults who don’t know what to do with their lives, and it’s possible Kevin will gain the maturity and perspective he needs. Ask him to keep in touch, and let’s hope he doesn’t get arrested.
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