Ask Abbie: How do I give my son some direction?

Published 10:26 am Saturday, June 30, 2012

by Abbie Long

Question: My son is headed to college this fall, but has no idea what he wants to do with his life, hence no idea what to major in.

I worry about his lack of direction and also am concerned this will cause him to be in school extra years. Our finances can only afford his first four years. Any suggestions for me to help him go forward with more direction?


Answer: Change your current fear and worry into a confident excitement about your son’s choice to further his education.

In a healthy family environment, children want to please their parents and to make them proud. If your son senses your fears, he may pressure himself to prematurely select a degree that is not well suited to him just to please you and in turn causing him to be bored, unhappy, or more stressed than necessary in the future.

The transition to college alone can be very daunting and stressful for some students let alone having to sit through classes they hate, are unchallenged by, or are just plain boring.

Choosing a poorly fit major could even keep him from graduating because the courses may be too difficult or lacking of interest.

Even if your son waits until sophomore year to declare a major, it is very unlikely this will result in extra years of college unless he selects a very highly specialized degree, which usually requires more than four years to complete.

Help your son discover his “passions,” those subjects that once he starts talking about you just can’t keep him quiet. Have a brainstorming session with your son at a distraction-free place of his choosing.

Ask him questions that cause him to evaluate and bring to the surface his interests, dreams and visions for his future. This will start his thinking. Then just listen for his heart to speak.

Once he begins to identify his passions, encourage him and help him search for jobs that relate to those passions.

Take into account job outlook and salary information. These two factors should play a role in every college student’s decision for a major.

Even though your son may love art, this does not mean that it is the best choice for a major. Although there are great choices in the field of art, such as teaching, many end up “starving artists.”

In such economic times, it is best for college students to try to find a career in an industry of growth and opportunity.

Many college students give little thought to what they are going to be doing for the rest of their lives. Your son is actually ahead of the game, and you were worried he was starting out behind.

Always remember this is ultimately your child’s life. His lifetime happiness cannot be forced. It must come from inside of him and you are now ready to be his biggest cheerleader.

Question: I lost my husband about three years ago, retired about a year ago and live in Southampton County.

When I first retired, I stayed really busy with the house chores and family items that I didn’t have time for while working.

Now, however, I have caught up on these, am settled into a more normal routine, but am beginning to become very bored and a bit lonely.

I am a very social person who really enjoys being around other people and am looking for suggestions to help me over my hump.


Answer: I want you to take a good look at your life to figure out why you are falling subject to boredom.

Start by identifying any of your unmet social, material, spiritual and financial needs. In your case, lack of social fulfillment seems likely.

As long as you have unmet needs, you will never get bored doing things aimed toward satisfying those areas. The reason many people feel bored is because they never take the initiative to satisfy their important needs.

Next, begin a journal to uncover what is working in your life and what is not. Record your unfulfilled dreams, what you long for, what gives you a sense of comfort and rightness, and what you want to accomplish in life.

As you evaluate your current “comfort zone” identify any fears, such as fear of failure, fear of rejection, or fear of the unknown that may be holding you complacent.

Take charge of those fears. Don’t let them win; they are weak in comparison to the strength of your spirit.

Now you are ready to break out of your routine and begin upon a new journey. Choose to engage in new activities that will help you work toward meeting your unmet needs and to fulfill your dreams.

Right now you are standing in front of a series of doors, each of which represents an available activity, or exciting solution to your boredom.

You will not know everything behind each door until you walk up to it, twist the knob and proceed to enter. It is up to you; no one can do this for you.

Go forth with anticipation and excitement for the next chapter of your life is just beginning and is waiting for you to live it!