So I took my son to the recruiter's office today

My 20 year old son has been at loose ends for some time now. He lives with his mother and is an intelligent young man, but has been heavily addicted (and I do mean addicted in the most serious sense) to online gaming for some time now. This destroyed his high school grades (he barely graduated) and he flamed out of community college after 3 semesters. He’s been sitting around at his mother’s house for the better part of a year now since leaving community college, and sheltered under her wing, is effectively a 24-7 gamer.

He has never held a paying job. I have sat down with him at my office for a week at a time and walked him through the resume creation, and job search process, and had him go to various businesses and fill out applications, however the instant he goes back to his mothers house there is no follow up by him. He lets his cell discharge, does not follow up with any employers and goes back to gaming all day. As of yesterday per the Verizon bill (I pay for his phone) he had not used his cell phone at all for over two months.

Having said all this he is an earnest young man he knows he has a serious problem, and I believe him when he says he really wants to change, he’s just stuck in a loop of very bad habits. He’s not overweight and is an Eagle Scout so he should be able to meet the physical challenges.

We went to the recruiters office today and talked with the Army, Air Force and Navy Recruiters. They were professional, but their attitude is not all that eager for new recruits as the services are all full up. They indicated that once you sign up and are accepted there would probably be a 6-12 month wait before you could attend boot camp, and if you want to move forward you had best be prepared to take whatever your testing indicates that they can use you for. Recruitment bonuses are apparently a thing of the past in the current economy unless you can speak Farsi, are adept enough at math and engineering to qualify to be be nuclear power tech, or have the inhuman stamina and focus necessary to be special forces solider.

I’m kind of leaning toward the Navy or Air Force as I would prefer to minimize his chances of getting shot. No one gave us any literature, they all said just to check the website for their service for any and all info. They are not eager for bodies these days, if anything they were the opposite. The impression I got was that they really do not want you unless you really, really want to be in their service.

He’s supposed to be checking the websites tonight. We’ll see how it goes.

As a gamer myself (but one with a full time job who is NOT mooching off either parent), I see this type of kid a lot in the under-25 crowd. The problem is not the gaming, it’s the addiction and the fact that he is living with an active enabler. When I dropped out of college and went to live with my mom, she wouldn’t let me game constantly. She hid my ethernet cord until she saw me apply to x number of jobs in a week, and follow up on those applications. She was loud and annoying and it made me WANT to live in another place. If his mother isn’t employing these (admittedly passive-aggressive but effective) techniques, why would he want to change?

Your son is lucky in that he has little or no debt, and could easily swing renting a place with roommates on a minimum wage mcjob if he wanted to. But if mom isn’t annoying him enough, then he has no reason to want to change. You need to get him out of that environment. And stop paying the phone bill if he’s never using the phone. Talk to mom and see if she will stop paying for his gaming–gaming is generally not free, nor is internet or his computer or the food he eats. He needs motivation to start making his own way in life.

Without mom’s cooperation, I don’t see anything happening. You could offer to let him come live with you and try to be the annoying parent, but this won’t work if he knows he could just go back to living in lazy peace with his mom. Unless you have the ability to get him a job where you work or something like that.

When I went into the USAF in 1986 I waited >6 mo. to go onto active duty. I had a blast for the 4 yrs. He can get college $ while earning a salary.

But it is a bummer about recruiter not being gunho on at least trying to sell their branch. But maybe a 2nd visit would convince someone your serious about this and they will get son signed up to take the examination.

I don’t have any advice astro, but wanted to say that he’s lucky to have a concerned yet understanding, level-headed father like you.

And FWIW, you can tell him I said that.

And I’m also amazed at how much recruiting has changed from the days 2-3 years ago when they raised the Army enlistment age to 40-something.

I might give a nod to the Air force, even if he is just wiping bugs off the windshields and leading edges of a fighter plane, the intellectual rush of just being near some of the high tech stuff he has ‘played’ in the gaming world, might be enough to show him reality has it’s rewards too.

Well, if he does join, tell him to join the Air Force and to do his best to get a flying job.

Trust me on this one.

I’m thinking this could be a big mistake. Is this your idea or his?

If it’s his idea he better go in with the knowledge that it’s long term. He can’t decide he doesn’t like it and mom or dad will bail him out.

Anything less than an honorable discharge and his prospects for employment will be trashed.

One thing I forgot is that when I was going in and I don’t think it has changed (but ask) is that the 6 mo wait to go to basic training is that he owuld have signed the paperwork and that time will go toward his 4 year committment. So instead of serving an actual 4 yrs he will do 3.5 yrs actually in. So if it isn’t his cup of tea, it isnt’ as long as he thought.

If he bails out of the military in basic training, it won’t affect him later. It is when he fails out after that, but really in my experience that is really hard to do. You basically have to commit some kind of criminal act.

But again that is a great question to ask the recruiter. What is the discharge status for being discharged during basic training.

astro, your son isn’t really gung-ho about joining the military is he?, it’s you who think it would be a good idea/opportunity for him, right? Let’s be honest.

Military service is not for baby-sitting or a method to give direction to aimless or misguided young people. This is the reason that the recruiters were not giving you much more than the time of day. They want people who are committed to the obligation that is required to succeed in the service. It is a buyer’s market for them in this economy and they can be choosy. They can tell this is your idea and not his and they are brushing you off.

Your son can’t even be bothered to follow up on the job searches you have essentially walked him through. How is he going to commit to several years of military service? They look poorly upon an inability to follow up on obligations, they hate that shit and will not accept it at all. He would be ridden hard and forced into failure if he could not adapt. A miracle turn around might be possible but that is more fairy tale than fact.

Find a way to encourage his mom to yank that ethernet cable and free feeding tube out of his mouth. The ‘enabler’ for his habit is being piped in and served up to him paid for.

I mean this in the most constructive way, coming from this father of young men. He will not be inspired to seek his own direction as long as aimlessness is fine.

Talk to his mother about this, if you can. Find a way.

They don’t do this anymore, at least not the Air Force. I did delayed enlistment. I signed up in March, I think, left in September, then separated in September four years later.

And I still have 1.5 years left in inactive ready reserve.

Perhaps the recruiter senses something is up with your son and doesn’t want to actively persue it. I think the armed forces CAN be a great career, but I feel you really have to have, at least some desire, to be in them.

If you’re being pushed into it, I think the outcome will be less than optimal

It was a general discharge (not exactly honorable but not dishonorable, either) 24 years ago. I doubt it’s changed any.

I had a 6 month wait and it didn’t count toward my enlistment. This was 1992.

OP, everything about your OP screams FAIL. However, the state of my mind when I enlisted was absolutely horrible (I was as sick as I’ve ever been) and anyone would have predicted I was gonna be right back in the hood within a week. But the result of having some structure, some money, some responsibility…it frikkin healed me.

I say press the issue. Get the kid his ASVAB and DLPT. The linguist program (available to all branches) is a sweet and prestigious gig, and it’s plenty challenging with a low mortality rate.

Dallas Jones speaks for me. Well said.

Have you tried beating the crap out of him? Because that’s pretty much what my parents would have done had I failed out of college because I was playing videogames 24-7. Kidding…not really.

Really, it’s a bit late at 20 years old. You and the Mrs have effectively raised a 20 year old manboy. It becomes tough at this point to suddenly shift gears and say “well, you are a man now. Go find a job and find your own place.” But that really should be your goal at this point.

Or maybe have a family movie marathon day watching Step Brothers, Failure to Launch, Billy Madison and such.


I don’t understand people whose solution for un-fucking up a kid is to send them to the military.

First of all, it is a “good opportunity” to do what exactly? Sit around in the desert for weeks at a time polishing Humvees? It’s not like this kid is going in out of West Point or even some sort of ROTC program.

Second, you really don’t hear a lot of stories about people who come back from combat with a greatly improved mental disposition.

Finally, if the kid has no direction, chances are he’s going to come out of the Army after 4 years with no college degree and 4 years experience doing…whatever it is they have him do and still no direction.

I was under the impression that you could really only get discharged during basic for a medical reason.

Lost and aimless is not the worst way to go into the service. I know many that did. I think I qualified as such. I know a few that stuck it out a lot longer then my 4 years and retired already.

As an ex-Sailor I would say try for Air Force first and Navy second. If you don’t want him shot at, stay away from Army and Marines.

The Air Force could still get in harms way but generally has it easier then the other services. They are also generally the most tech oriented followed closely by the Navy. Navy is pretty much the safest service if the #1 concern is not getting shot at.

It sounds to me like this isn’t his idea, he’s not too interested in it, and the recruiters probably recognize that. If he’s not going to follow up- and he won’t if he doesn’t really want to be in the military- it’s just a waste of the recruiter’s time.

Honestly, I’d queue up Hulu and watch a half-dozen episodes of “Intervention.” In pretty much every single story on there, there is one common theme: the family keeps enabling the addiction. Every time you watch it, the parents are really concerned. But then they turn around and hand the addict $50.00 to buy drugs with. You are sitting there saying “Why the hell would you destroy your kid like that.” But it happens every single time.

Kick him out. Give him a month’s notice and don’t change your mind. He’s 20 years old and he can figure out how to get a job. He can sleep in his car or with a friend or whatever. If he doesn’t have a car or any friends, he’ll figure out how to find some. Nothing permanently bad is going to happen to him, although he will certainly have a bad couple of months as he realizes he’s going to have to take care of himself. Anyway, if it’s bad enough, he knows where the recruiter’s office is, right?

Seriously, my ex-boyfriends parents let him get away with this stuff until he was something like 28 years old. The very second his parents stopped paying his rent, he got a job, learned how to clean up his room and started acting like an adult. At that age it’s a lot harder to get your education, love life, etc. on track. Better get this done now.

I was discharged during basic because I didn’t fit in. The official reasons were “objectionally dirty/untidy” and “for the good of the service”.

This sounds a lot like a story of different parent expectations.

Honestly, it sounds like your wife (who I presume you are divorced from) is enabling your son to do something that he would not be able to do under your roof. Sadly, that may mean your hands are tied.

My grandmother did a similar thing with my uncle. He got married young, had three kids, got a divorce and then moved back in with her. She was so happy to have him there that she let him mooch and do nothing for a long time (until my grandfather finally spoke up and put an end to it).

It is a natural tendancy for us to want to shelter our children from the world. However, it sounds like it is time for you and your wife to stop doing so. The hard part will be sitting your wife down and coming to a rational solution that works for both of you. This will be especially difficult if you are not on good terms.

I don’t think enlistment is the only solution to this problem. I think enlistment should be a personal choice.

I’m sure the OP would if he could. But since the son (as he mentioned in the first post) is living with his mother, who seems perfectly happy to let the son live that way, it doesn’t seem like he can. If he could’ve (convinced the mother to do something about it), I’m sure he would’ve by now.