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April 03, 2008

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Did you know inEngland there used( may still be!) to be a chain of burger restaurants actually called Wimpy's? Before McDonalds no less!!

Anyhoo, as a fellow parent of son procrastinator, here's what we have done.... nothing! It's a learning experience, and trust me, no amount of I told you so, or other insightful parental lectures will help! Our son ( 20 years old, Junior at UMass) learnt the hard way like your boy, and is only now starting to "get it" After spending a hellish 6 week winter break with no money, stuck at home with Mommy Dearest, he learnt that you have to apply for jobs well before you actually need them!His first year at UMass, he learnt you can't wait till the last minute to pick classes, as all the popular/awesome ones fill up fast! ( there is a awesome Psych professor, and a horrible one - guess which he got!!)
But don't panic, your son will go to college, maybe not where he really wanted, but if he doesn't procrastinate he can always transfer out after freshman year!! I think the only way they learn is by having to deal with the consequences of their actions!

we still have WIMPY restaurants here in South Africa... hehe

anyway... good post, my son is now 12 and already suffers from the same sickness... thanks for the heads up, my poor boy is going to get it from all sides now ;)

That's cool that you guys are posting from such far-flung areas of the world! And I feel some sense of assurance that perhaps he will grow into some sort of responsibility on that level...Hard lessons to learn, but ones he's gotta deal with, eh? The good news is he DID get into a good school into their honors program, so he's got a place to go, but it's not THE place he's dreamed about forever...
and LOL re: getting it from all sides ;-)

Hey Jenny-As someone who didn't get into her top choice either (and who then learned you should pick a safety school that you would actually be willing to go to!), I feel your pain. But your son will be fine--I transferred after two years to a school I hadn't even considered the first time and truly landed in my dream school. Um, and as far as the procrastination--it'll catch up to him. Or it won't. He'll figure it out.

You and me, both, Judy. And regarding that procrastination habit, I think I failed to get around to mentioning it is one of my own little problems...Like I was writing this post last night and had two weeks in which to do it ;-)
You should only see me when it's crunch-time writing a book!

As a mom of 8 children - 2 in High School and 3 in Jr. High...it is the rule at our house too. Not the exception. It is so hard to sit and watch them make these mistakes while we hint, discuss and cojole them into making better choices....all for not.

I'm constantly amazed at the power of my own husbands procrastination. We started dating in high school and got married after I finished college. As a result of his procrastination, we've been married for 3 years and he's just now getting his associates. Not because he isn't smart, but he's got the procrastination thing down so well, that initially he failed some classes, didn't get into the ones he needed, etc. I hate to tell you this, but this is going to be a real burden and source of conflict in his marriage someday unless he can straighten up. We're finally to the point, after years of "talks", fights, and disappointments that he is taking initiative and doing the things that aren't "fun" for him. Honestly, I've felt a lot more like his mom, and sometimes even resent my mil because I figured these were values that she should have taught him years ago.

I like to plan ahead, have a schedule, know what's going on. My girls laugh at me. But I am trying to be a good example.

My youngest daughter is turning out to be a lot like me. She is 12 and already starts working ahead on projects that are due in 2 weeks. She does not work well at all under pressure or deadlines. She is ready when I tell her to be ready....

Then there is my eldest daughter, Eowyn *sigh* She is perpetually running late, waits until last minute to do everything. But she thrives under the pressure....I asked her one day if her always running late was in rebellion to my always making her be on time.....she is always the last one in the car when we have somewhere to go. She is always doing her laundry an hour before she has to leave for school. She laughed and said "maybe" with a smile.

She did get into the college of her choice. She applied for early admission on the last day it was due. So that was a mix of procrastinating and not....now Eowyn is a freshman at college and on her own. She comes home on weekends with plans to work on papers, but I see her going out with friends instead. At 18, I now have to trust her on her own. Trust that she is getting to classes on time, getting her work done....doing what needs to be done WHEN it needs to be done. She passed her first semester, so things seem to be going okay.

Of course, she isn't even starting to think about summer job....I guess she thinks money will magically appear. Or maybe waiting til the last minute will get her the job she wants. I guess she will have to learn the hard way that sometimes you DO have to think ahead. It is hard letting them find their own way, but it is the only way they will learn. I tried to teach by example and I got a procrastinator anyway *sigh*.

I was a "Wimpy Burger" kid myself, I guess I still am. My high school was easy enough that I could get away with it but BOY when I got to college did I pay. I don't know if this is something you can recover from at a late age or not... I'm certainly better than I was as a teenager, but I'm far from on top of things. On the bright side, once he gets over the disappointment I think your son might find that not getting into "the" school is probably less of a huge deal than he thinks. So much is made of getting into the right school when really for the most part a degree is a degree. The most important thing is that he end up somewhere that he can be happy.

Karen--8 children? WOW! You must have some serious organizational skills yourself!!!
Oh Michelle, that must be so continually frustrating for you. And this really is what I worry about. But on certain levels he performs to such an impressive degree, but with other things, it's just that whole "manana" thing...
Lynn, I hate to admit that your daughter does sound a bit like me at that age...Well, even now. It's probably perfect that I have a career as a writer--in fact I trained as a journalist, which was inherently a last-minute sort of rushing around job. Because I thrive under that last-minute pressure. And I'm always trying to squeeze yet one more thing in before I get in the car...
I think I sound a lot like Megs. Better than I was but not cured of it...And so I wonder where he gets it from?!

I'm another slightly-reformed-but-not-that-much procrastinator. I think that your son will be like the rest of us - he'll figure out what his workarounds are, and he'll get some painful lessons along the way that remind him of *why* he needs those workarounds.

However, there are some positives to being someone who works well under pressure - some jobs (like journalism) are horribly stressful for people who don't have this ability. Even in more mundane situations it can make you a really valuable collaborator to have on projects. My current boss is a total planner - while my last-minute tendencies can stress her out, I'm also able to take things over on the last day(s) and pull the loose ends together, meaning that she knows she's covered when last-minute opportunities come up that she wouldn't want to tackle.

Alice you make a really good point that I hadn't thought about. Everyone comes to the table with different skills and ultimately I suppose in the right environment such contrasting personalities can combine to make something work even better. I'll have to keep that in mind!

Jenny, my best friend sent me to this site recently, and boy what a delight it is! I am the mother of three kids, 10 years apart (looooonnng story), and the last one is now 17. I was reading your post about your procrastinator son and you could have been spying in my house! He had a simple family tree Spanish project due this week. He found out about it BEFORE SPRING BREAK which was the week before EASTER. Did he work on it then? Heck no? Did he work on it last week? Heck no? He worked on it starting Sunday, and finished last night (it was due today). Of course, from the procrastinator's POV, "I got it done in time, didn't I?" Well, yes, but of course that's because no problems happened, we found the appropriate photos, the printer was working, and so on (yes, still helping with school projects sometimes in the 11th grade - I HATE school projects!). He has begun paying attention to all the college prep stuff, has signed up for the SAT, and has a couple of college visits planned. He is going to take four AP tests this spring as well. I think he "gets it" at least about preparing so he can go where he wants to college. But on the homework and organization front - not so much. He is an ABC student who should be an A student - he has the smarts, and as you said of your son, is an all around FABULOUS kid, except for this one thing that may be the undoing of us both. I am a planner, a scheduler, and so on, and it makes me NUTS. I do work well under pressure, but I don't LIKE it. I am a self-confessed helicopter mom, at least part of the time, though much less than some. I know that I have rescued him a few times when I should have let him suffer the price of his putting stuff off. I appreciate everyone's comments about how you have to just let them learn the hard way - but I sometimes think the "hard way" is as hard on mom as it is on the kid, at least for me. This website is an awesome support group for moms of teens as we navigate the crazy waters.

i am a dreadful procrastinator myself... my son doesn't seem too bad though!

Oh, Gail, first of all, I'm so glad you found us and are enjoying this blog! It's a lot of fun to find others in the same boat!
And those words--I hear that all the time! He's often indignant when we get mad that he's put it off. "I got it done!" As if!
Of course we're all insane from the frenzy and like you said, guaranteed we are thrown in the whirlpool and of course then the printer doesn't work and who can reach grandma to find out about great great great Uncle Whozzit at midnight on a Sunday night?
We of course compensate because we know besides this they're just so darned awesome, and by compensating are we cementing the deal? You are so right, letting them learn the hard way is crushing to us as well.
I remember when he was a baby, after 9 sleepless months, having to follow the books and just let him cry it out when he wouldn't sleep. For three grueling nights he cried himself till he had no voice, for HOURS. It was agonizing. But at the end of that he became the best sleeper of my kids.
And the same w/ my son--5 AP classes two years in a row. Works HARD except when he diverts his attention all over the place to anything other than work. You feel BAD for them, they have so much on their plates.
I said to my sister-in-law the other day (who is paddling in the same boat that we all seem to be in!), "I don't know that I really BELIEVE this, but I swear they should have a compensatory factor for boys when it comes to college admissions decisions." I've got 2 girls, and the girls are self-starters. They don't have to be told twice about anything. They do it and they don't do it half-assed, either. I just wonder how many boys have it in their genetic/hormonal make-up to perform in this manner! That sounds very boy-ist, doesn't it? LOL
BTW--3 kids ten years apart? Holy cow!!

Wow, look at all this advice in the comments! Yes, let him learn for himself. but also...make sure he has structures in place to help him make the change. A pocket calendar or logbook for school, basic supplies at home for most assignments, and maybe even a parent looking over his shoulder to say, "What your next due date? How do you plan to meet it?" a few times to get him thinking along those lines.
Of course, now I'm hungry for a hamburger. A good one.

Oh, Daisy, believe me, we did ALL of those things and then some. The Palm Pilot, various other organizers, storage bins, file cabinet, overlording..all to no avail!

Wow, a great post.

Nope Jenny, you're not alone in this at all.

Now that my Son is 19, and after years of wall calendars and notebooks and threats...uh, I mean supportive encouragment...

I'm finding that letting him figure out for himself when his procrastination has really screwed him over does a much better job of driving the point home than anything I've ever come up with.

Thanks Zayna! I think you're right--ultimately as adults we all have to sink or swim on our own...

Jenny, you could have been writing about my son, too. He's the biggest procrastinator I've ever known, and that's saying something because I know he inherited it from me. I'm terrible, always have been, always will be. I'm totally deadline focussed. If I don't have a deadline, it will never get done.

My son is the kid that brings in the garbage cans off the street only after I've screamed at him to do so. He's the kid that leaves his laundry until he's worn his last pair of pants for a week already. He's the kid that STILL hasn't finished up a class from last year. He has the stuff, he just has to do a little bitty project, but I CANNOT get him to do it. So he'll end up with an F.

It's horribly frustrating to be this parent. But much of it is, as I said, my fault because I'm so terrible at it myself!

I think (and according to Shortman's Accounting teacher and his Chemistry teacher and every other teacher that I've spoken with recently) that this is a pandemic among teenage boys in the past couple of years.

Margalit--you hit on the laundry...I feel certain that he will run out of boxers the first week and keep recycling the same ones the entire semester. This too will happen with socks (which will of course be mixed in with his roommates, and who knows whose are whose. Shirts, jeans, etc. Sheets? Never changed. If they thrash about in their sleep and the sheets come unsecured? So be it. Not changing, not stretching out that elastic band to secure it, nothing.
I guess there is, somewhere deep down, a beauty to the simplicity of this all, but I can't exactly appreciate it.
And Ree, pandemic sounds exactly right!

Oh..my son came in at 11, did all his homework and filled my car up with gas...Bwahaha (Liar, Liar...)
No, really... his motto was "why do today what you can put off until next week".

But...One (1!) semester in college cured that! He found out that if he didn't do what was expected of him, no-one else would and he would flunk out of college. He made C's the 1st semester!

Now...he makes all A's and has been accepted to graduate school. (he didn't put off all the paperwork!)

But...my point is, I think it takes maturity and not having me around as his crutch.

Debbie, this is gratifying news. And that is MY SON'S motto too!!! What, is there some club they belong to that we all don't know about?

This was my son, all through junior high...and high school...and most of college...and probably till about two months ago.

Well, I'm exaggerating a little, but C. was a master procrastinator. In fact, he was pretty proud of it; I think he really believed he did better under pressure.

He's been out of college almost a year, and it seems like having a job, a girlfriend, and responsibility for himself have all been very helpful in breaking the procrastination habit - in some areas. But since he's living on his own now, at least I don't have to be bothered with it. :-)

My point is, I think it's pretty common among teenage boys, but it can get better. It just takes awhile.

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