One of our readers sent me an email that really touched me:
I am not completely an empty nester unfortunately. My 20 year old son was not able to return to college this fall because of the lack of loans and grants available to him. So now he is doing nothing except for playing the computer game WoW (World of Warcraft) most of his waking hours. He did just purchase a small business that will make him a small living, but I pray he goes back to college. He is very bright and it would be such a waste if he didn’t. –Hannah
Hannah, my heart goes out to you. As a mother of three adult children who has gone though the college years with all of its glories and pitfalls, I can only try to put myself in your shoes and let you know what I would do:
My son would need to get a game plan — and fast. Otherwise, by the time he gets his face out of the fake world of online gaming, this crucial part of his life will have passed him by. After all, none of his gaming gear would be there to assist him in real life. I would need to take action soon or I would find myself enabling my son to continue this lifestyle indefinitely. And that would be tragic.
I would sit down with my son and have the BIG TALK and have David on board as well. My emotional ducks would need to be in a row beforehand, strength is necessary for chats like these — my son’s future is at stake.
I would start by asking if it is his desire to return to college. If the answer is no (and let’s hope not), the discussion becomes clear. I would insist he move out. He needs to get a second job while he builds his business and to pay his own rent (and internet access). People do it everyday. Staying under my roof is only going to hurt him and he will continue down the same path.
He is 20 years old, a man, and needs to start acting like one. Period.
If the answer is yes, he needs to keep up with his studies. I would have brochures for local community colleges on hand. Encourage him to research the classes that offer credits transferable to the university he plans to attend. Explain to him that university admissions officers will be more willing to accept him back into the fold if he shows the drive to continue his education no matter what his circumstances.
In addition to school, he must get a job. I know how rough the job market is and it might not be the work he wants, but it’s the real world and he’ll love getting out in it (my kids worked in restaurants all through college to offset costs and it didn’t kill them — it was actually good for them).
What if my Adult Child is Addicted to Online Gaming?
Hannah, there is a possible screw in the works that you need to be aware of.
MMORPGs (Massively multiplayer online role-playing games) like World of Warcraft are an increasing concern for parents and members of the mental health community. It is currently listed as a condition warranting more clinical research by the American Psychiatric Association.
Addiction to online gaming has been linked to job loss, the college dropout rate, stunted social skills and death. I’m not kidding about the death part. Treatment facilities are cropping up all over the world, including residency programs in Europe, Asia and the United States.
If you feel your son needs help kicking WoW, there is help and, I encourage you to read this message from Online Gamers Anonymous:
I hope at least some of this helps you Hannah, and I wish the best of life to you and your son,
YOUR TURN: You’ve read what I’d do under these circumstances, what would YOU suggest Hannah do?