Mother Hen

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
My son is a good kid. He’s a scholar athlete and has been accepted
into his first choice college. It costs $40K a year more than we’d
budgeted for the state school that was his shoe-in. At State he’ll have
to compete for his preferred major (athletic training). At the premier
place he beat the odds (14 out of 800!!) and is already into a six-year
BA+PhD program. Last night he said he was sleeping at a friend’s,
which is also near his girlfriend’s. He’d told us her mom was out of
town so after dinner and a midnite movie we drove by both houses.
You guessed: his car was at his girlfriend’s. Note: condoms fell out of
his backpack last week, even though he’d sworn to us they weren’t
having sex. His scholarship essays are due next week. From what I
can tell he’s more committed to playing than writing, now that he’s
been accepted. I don’t want to pull 160K out of my house for a kid
who thinks lying and leaving the essays for mother to write is okay. I
love him but feel this is a last chance to teach him responsibility. His
father is more sympathetic. You get the tie-breaker on how we
Mother Hen

Dear Mother Hen:
Asking a teenager to swear off sex is almost the same as asking him
to lie to you. The old potato chip commercial, “Bet you can’t eat just
one!” is a pretty close equivalent. That doesn’t take him off the hook
for playing hooky with his scholarship applications, but you should
probably focus your energies where they’ll do the most good: making
him responsible for helping pay for his education, whether that’s by
writing essays, working his way through school, or taking out loans.
Sit him down with a spreadsheet of costs and revenue sources. Be
sure to identify everything you’ll have to pay for, including travel,
books, and fees. Then add up the commitments you’ve made to pay,
any scholarships he’s already received, and other possible sources of
funding (e.g. a future dorm counseller or work-study job). If the                                question is where should he go, I’m voting with the premier school. If
the question is how to pay for it, make him help. But punishing him for
being sexually active is a losing battle.