Real-life MMD: Should we deduct rent from future uni contribution?



  • brookie1
    brookie1 Forumite Posts: 3
    Tenth Anniversary First Post Combo Breaker
    This is not about money particularly, but changing a child into a responsible adult. The apron strings need cutting, but by becoming someone who can look after himself and understand how attitude can bring about changes, then he will thank his family for teaching him to become a man and then the family ties will remain.
  • Thegirl
    Thegirl Forumite Posts: 143 Forumite
    Get all of the plugs in his room wired to be controlled by a master switch somewhere else in the house. A year bumming around is a lot less fun without games consoles/phones being charged, bad daytime tv....

    He needs to contribute. That is the end of the discussion as far as I am concerned. He needs to understand nothing is for free. If you cannot stop him sponging now, what on earth will it be like when he's at uni giving you the 'but I'm too busy to get a part-time job' routine.
    If I cut you out of my life I can guarantee you handed me the scissors
  • milvusvestal
    milvusvestal Forumite Posts: 104 Forumite
    Pardon me for saying so, but I think your son wants to go to university merely to extend his social life for a few more years, before he joins the real world.

    Gap years are a bit old-hat these days, when lads who find a job straight from school are doing so much better in the workplace. Leaving university with some mickey-mouse degree won't help him get a better job when there are so few around, and many companies are now growing their talent organically. Just look at the ex-CEO of Tesco.

    By the sound of things, your son hasn't yet reached a stage of adulthood where he should be taking responsibility and, as he's receiving state benefit for doing absolutely nothing, you should most certainly make it clear where you stand in terms of supporting him any longer.

    What I find most disturbing is his apparent lack of honesty with, of all people, his parents. You need to sit him down and make him understand that he has reached an age when commitment is a two-way affair, and that he is in a position to make a contribution towards the household expenses. When my brother and I started work, we immediately contributed to them - why should your son be any different?
  • sultryabyss
    sultryabyss Forumite Posts: 62 Forumite
    I go to uni without ANY help from my parents whatsoever. Before I started university I paid £120 rent a month to my parents, every month and on time. I didn't expect hand outs, I didn't expect any help and I didn't get any unless I asked.

    Your son should have more respect from you and should OFFER you money. And even if he isnt on JSA - why the hell isn't he?! You should tell him to sign on and pay rent if he expects help in the future - tell him you won't help him at uni if he doesnt and instead of you giving him money he will have to get student loans.

    I agree with everyone else, a gap year isn't a 'sit on your backside and do naff all for a year' it's about going travelling or volunteering and doing stuff with your time.

    He needs a kick up the backside!

    Off subject slightly, I don't think anyone should pay for their childrens university fee's or maintainence. A lot of people on my course get parental help and all of them completely abuse it. By helping them financially your not helping them to grow up and take responsibility. I know this is very moot, but as a student I see first hand. Your son already sounds like he takes the pee, don't make it worse.
  • onesixfive
    onesixfive Forumite Posts: 470
    Part of the Furniture 100 Posts Combo Breaker
    edited 6 March 2013 at 12:52PM
    "My 18-year-old son is on a gap year before uni. I'm sure he's getting jobseekers' allowance (£56/week), though he won't tell me. He won't pay for bills or help around the house. We've told him if he won't contribute, we'll deduct rent from our contribution towards uni costs, but if he then can't cope financially he might drop out and have to live off us"

    There are obvious long-standing problems in your household:
    At 18 HE's calling the shots, despite living under YOUR roof.
    I'm sure he's getting jobseekers' allowance (£56/week), though he won't tell me.
    If he IS on JSA - the Job Centre should be on his case to get a job/training - mail should be arriving for him (although I doubt it!). BUT Find out by stopping ALL monies & allowances to him. At 18 I guess he has a mobile - that will need paying - he will need some cash. Sit him down & itemise ALL the household bills (including mortgage, food, power, insurance, council tax, water, Car, etc) - then divide by number of residents & tell him for his "gap" year that share of the bills is his responsibility. If he then says he's "unemployed" - make an allowance/deduction - but still take something off him.
    He WONT pay bills or help around the house - WHY ? - Has he never been asked to help until now - if not - why - there's no reason why he shouldnt have been helping around the house since childhood?
    We'll deduct rent from our contribution towards uni costs - How does he expect to fund his 3/4 year University life - still topped up by you? or does he expect to work part-time by then to top up any cash awards, living cost loans, grants etc - I doubt it?
    if he then can't cope financially he might drop out - this would be financial blackmail !
    and have to live off us - Why ? (does he assume, you) can you afford it ? If he know this then show him how you achieved this by hard work. If you cant afford this, or dont want him to live off you, then nip this problem in the bud NOW !
    He's an adult - he should start behaving like one.
  • 2jobs
    2jobs Forumite Posts: 11 Forumite
    scotsbob wrote: »
    This is family.

    When you are a little older and he no longer lives with you, you will wish he did.

    Why worry over a few pounds a week from a teenager.

    I FEEL I agree with you but I also think the other comments about learning to stand on his own two feet are very valid. It's very hard to be "cruel to be kind" but I think, as many people have already said, that in the end the young people get a better sense of value if they are made to do their bit.
  • Metarie
    Metarie Forumite Posts: 20
    Tenth Anniversary Combo Breaker
    I'd like to know whether this is a planned gap year and he already had a uni place which he has deferred. If not it sounds like this will only be the beginning and any threats towards his future uni contributions won't really work.

    As others have said this seems to go way beyond the issue of rent - why is an 18 year old basically calling the shots in the house?

    Of course we don't know anything beyond the basic facts but if he is used to having everything done/paid for him it explains his current position - in his mind that money is his to do with as he pleases. This smacks of someone who has never had to pay for a living cost or do any chores in their life.

    I'm with the others who say you have to take a firm stand over this. If all else fails, change the wifi password and don't tell him - see how long it takes before he cracks without internet :)
  • AGoodRead
    AGoodRead Forumite Posts: 1 Newbie
    I am surprised at how one-sided these comments are!

    Over 18 or under 18, he's still your son!

    Unless you really need the rent to afford your mortgage and bills, why would even ask an unemployed family member to pay rent?

    Sounds pretty uncharitable to me but then my relatives have never taken this approach.

    The most important thing in all of this is your relationship with your son. Don't stick your neck out for the sake of it. I've seen kids end up homeless and on drugs for less - though I accept that it's not a common outcome!

    It just seems really tight to me
    Btw should probably point out I'm a mum, not a teenager, given that my view seems so different to majority of posters!!
  • ianlondon
    ianlondon Forumite Posts: 1 Newbie
    Scotsbob is right.

    As someone who was once in this students position, id be more concerned over why he feels he cant discuss his finances with the parents or talk as adults with them.

    As for the JSA. If he is signing on, this may be eating into any motivation in finding work too, those places are soul destroyers, and not supportive, so to be getting more grief from family, could spiral this into a very unhappy situation for the student.

    Encourage him gently to use his time off wisely, rather than make demands based on cold hard cash.

    If he has a Uni place already, perhaps help him find work relating to this field. Or suggest voluntary work that could help in the long term.

    Once left home, its very rare a child ever returns as they were, so embrace this time, and not the cash.

    scotsbob wrote: »
    This is family.

    When you are a little older and he no longer lives with you, you will wish he did.

    Why worry over a few pounds a week from a teenager.
  • GreySpike
    GreySpike Forumite Posts: 6
    Part of the Furniture First Post Combo Breaker
    Your son appears to be neither an adult nor a child. The process outlined below attempts to recognise that he has childish tendencies whilst eliciting adult behavoir.

    It is hard work, but should help your son learn useful life skills.

    1. Decide whether you are actually going to follow will just make it worse if you start something you are not prepared to finish. What is your best case and minimum acceptable case scenarios? In the worst case, are you actually willing to put him out of the house?

    Be honest with yourself.

    In my experience, planning for the worst makes it far less likely to happen, and pretending that it will never get that bad just means you are not prepared when it does.

    Assuming that you decide that the situation must change...

    2. Actively design a context to talk with your son about how you feel

    So not just before his favourite TV programme or just before he goes out; you want the conversation to be a success.

    If he refuses to talk then escalate.

    Your feelings are your own and cannot be challenged, and he doesn't have to understand, just acknowledge. A useful technique for both of you is for the listener to reflect back to the speaker what has been heard, in their own words, and without any judgement.

    With patience, you may find out how he feels about the situation. Maybe his feelings are that all his mates have more money than he does and he feels that you just want to take away his money. Talk about his feelings.

    Hopefully by now you at least understand each other.

    3. Ask him first for suggestions for change.

    Be prepared for his first suggestions to be how he thinks you should change. If they fit within your acceptable scenarios then accept, in principle. Your acceptance is likely to help him offer to change his behavior.

    4. Strike the deal

    If you end up with an equitable set of proposals, in principle, then work at making them objectively measurable. Agreeing that he will be "Doing his own washing" is not objective measurable.

    I suggest that you:
    don't want his dirty clothes anywhere except his own room
    may want to provide the washing powder
    may want to reserve certain times for your own washing

    On your side, you must ensure that he can't blame you for not meeting the agreement. For example, if you agree that you will provide the washing powder, get a small spare (yes I know it is more expensive per gm), so that he can never say that there wasn't any powder.

    5. Monitor, and Adapt.

    If you have completed all the above, then there should be no issue about whether compliance has or has not been achieved.

    There will be issues about whether the agreement actually realises the aims of both parties, and of course what you both want may change over time.

    One thing we forgot to do was agree where 'others' clean clothes should be put when it came out of the dryer; we soon amended the agreement to state that dry, washed clothes should be put on the owners bed.

    So repeat the process, possibly daily to start with. A frequent little chat is more effective than a marathon once a month.

    Don't forget to start with praise for what has been achieved, before going on to what has not been achieved.

    And then back to praising what has been achieved when wrapping up.

    Personally, we tried to limit the improvements to one or two things at a time, rather than pointing out all the things that hadn't been done, which can be bruising to the ego and therefore counter-productive.


    If your son refuses to even talk about the problems, then that in itself is a problem, and almost has to be dealt with in the same way.

    This is where you need to know in advance where you draw the line.

    Ultimately if the relationship no longer has any element of adult to adult, then he needs to move out of your home or go back to being a child i.e no self-determination.

    However remember that at all times your goal is to end up with a better relationship with your son, where you both understand and respect each other.

    My best wishes to you.
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