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My SS is influencing my DS in a way I am not comfortable with.

dessy101's picture

My DS and SS have been getting close lately. My DS just graduated HS and is supposed to be attending college this fall. Now all of a sudden he doesn’t think that is the best option for him. He is listening to SS who says he will get higher ROI in pursuing other paths. Plus all the lay-offs in the pandemic shows the importance of being your own boss blah blah. By the way SS went to college and has a degree. But SS has convinced DS he went to college to ‘network’ and for ‘the experience’.

So all of a sudden DS is talking about going into real estate investing and passive income. Also getting a real estate license or going to a coding boot camp – all over the place. I don’t have an issue with him trying other things but he can do it whilst in college. He thinks he could start working along with SS and earn money and experience whilst saving money to start making investments and doing courses. Also SS has got him reading a lot of books that are adding to this fairytale. DS is an adult so I cannot limit communication between the two but this is freaking DH and I out big time.

DH has reached out to SS to dissuade him from encouraging DS into taking these massive risks. SS said that DS doesn’t really want to go to college because he doesn’t know what he really wants to do. SS thinks that DS should have a gap year working on other avenues before committing himself to the expense of college. I am not against delaying college whilst working but I am not comfortable with the influence that SS is having on him. SS has a different life experience to fall back on that DS does not have and SS is in position where he could take advantage of DS too.

There is also the fact that DH and I have a tenuous relationship with SS. SS never really gave an indication that he wanted a close relationship with DS before either so I am also wondering why the sudden interest and assistance. I have tried to raise this up with DS but to him SS is a mentor. I don’t trust SS to be there if it starts to fall apart or to have DS best interest at heart.

tog redux's picture

Well - this is tough. Your DS is an adult, or will be soon, and has to chart his own path (and make his own mistakes).  All you and DH can do is set boundaries around what you will and won't do (ie, we won't support you while you try all these things, and you can't live here - or whatever).

dessy101's picture

That is just it. I don't know if we should make it hard for him to live at home by enforcing contributions because that may make him further align to SS. Which means he may not tell me exactly what he is doing. But at the same time I want to strongly suggest to him that I do not approve of him having SS mentor him.

tog redux's picture

Well, don't parent based on fear of him aligning with SS, parent according to your values.  So if you and DH think that if he's not in school he should pay rent, then that's what you should do.  Changing how you parent because of SS gives SS way too much power.

dessy101's picture

You're right, but at the same time I want to navigate this in a way that I don't alienate myself from DS.

tog redux's picture

"DS, your dad (stepdad?) and I feel strongly that if you want to live here after you graduate, you have to work and pay us some rent. You will also need to pay for your phone and car expenses."  Then save the rent for him in a savings account (without his knowledge) for him to use in the future.

Why are you so afraid of SS - why do you think he can turn your own son against you? Forcing him to go to college might do that, too.

dessy101's picture

I think I am more taken aback than anything else. All of a sudden DS needs SS to affirm his decisions. Every conversation on this matter has been DS sputing what SS told him or some guy SS knows that does this and so on.

When I bring up my doubts and concerns I get a lot of 'I don't believe in him'. Plus apparently SS told him that he should stop telling us his plans because we are negative, instead let us see him (DS) succeed. And he needs to get around people who believes in him and who are like minded.

tog redux's picture

Sounds kind of like cult behavior - which many of these Multi-level marketing schemes resemble.

notsurehowtodeal's picture

I agree, this sounds a lot like what some of the multi-level marketing put out in order to get people to join and stay. See if you can gently suss out some specifics from your DS as to what exactly he wants to try. If he mentions anything like Amay, that will explain a lot of this new attitude.

lieutenant_dad's picture

Is it possible that part of the reason why you have a tenuous relationship with SS is due to pressures DH and you exerted on him? And is it possible that you've done the same with DS, and DS is frustrated as well? Perhaps SS understands where DS is coming from, so they're connecting on that level, which would be entirely outside yours and DH's comfort zone.

I'm not saying this is the case, but it might be a good idea to look at the expectations you've put on your DS and see if they align with DS's life goals. If DS feels like he has only ever had one path laid out before him, then SS (or anyone) is going to sound very appealing, especially if they are offering a future of getting to dictate what it is that DS actually wants to do (or try).

18 is a good age to take risks. Getting a real estate license isn't a bad career move. Neither is going through coding boot camp. Both will land him a job with potentially high income. It would be better for DS to flop in these endeavours now than when he's 30 with responsibilities.

So, let DS do this without assuming it's nefarious (unless you know for certain that SS means DS harm). Screwing up at 18-20 likely isn't going to have lasting impact, especially if that screwing up is going a trade route with income potential. College will still be there if/when he needs it. And unless DS is sitting on a lot of cash that he could potentially lose, the risk doesn't seem that big.

dessy101's picture

We haven't pressured him into any decision. He never really knew what he wanted to do at college but he always said he wanted to go to college. If SS had never said anything about any of this he would have been going. SS himself went to college so I guess my question is why is he encouraging DS not to.

I don't have a problem with him pursuing other avenues in education and career paths, it is the fact that SS seems to be in the driver seat of these decisions. I also don't know why SS is so interested in doing this because they have never been close like that before.

lieutenant_dad's picture

If one of my SSs came to me and said they weren't sure if they wanted to go to college, but knew they needed to make a decent income, I'd talk them out of college for a bit. I'd recommend they take a gap year. Even if they knew they wanted to go to college, and even as a college graduate myself, I wouldn't recommend they go and waste time/money.

Is SS cult leader-levels of manipulative? If he's not, then the root of this issues is DS. He's either naive/gullible to SS, or he has real concerns about his future and feels SS is a good person to talk to about this. Or a combination of both.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that instead of wondering why SS is so interested in DS, find out why DS feels so lost that he has turned to his (step?)brother that he had no relationship with for guidance on his future. No, you can't make him do anything, but if you're having to guess what's going on in his head, then he doesn't feel comfortable talking to you about this. You likely will have to change your approach to DS, including being supportive of changes he wants to make (unless that change is a cult).

BethAnne's picture

Your SS is not wrong. There are other ways to build a life than starting with college. I would have a discussion with your son's dad (your husband?) and work out what your plan b is if your son does not attend college this fall. What are going to be the requirements for him being able to stay living in your home or will he have to move out? If you were going to financially support him in college in any way will you give him that financial support if he chooses to do other things? Is college help a one time offer, now or never, or will you be willing to give him that support in a year or two if he changes his mind and wants to go to college then?

I would try not to alienate your son too much, particularly if you susspect that your ss may be trying to take advantage of your son. My guess is that you fear he will somehow take advantage of him monitarily or get him involved in dodgy deals etc. By keeping the line of communication open and showing an interest in what he is doing you might be able to help stear your son away from making huge mistakes and trusting ss too much without looking out for himself. 

Your son is becoming an adult and is at the best time to make mistakes, he can recover much better at 18/19/20 from most mistakes than he can at an older age. Let him go and make these mistakes.  Show interest and moral support along the way and be there with advice when he asks fo it.

dessy101's picture

I do kind of want to throw in the college help offer is a now or never deal. But, I do not know if a couple years down the road I'd stick to it. If he were coming up with these ideas on his own I would feel way more comfortable than hearing SS says.

tog redux's picture

My brother set off to college as expected and dropped out after one semester. My parents kicked him out and told him to get a job - he did, and he traveled a bit, and then he went back to another college and finished as expected.

Kids take different paths. Don't tell him this is his only chance to get help with college, he might just need a little time.

Gimlet's picture

A couple of things come to mind.  What is SS doing?  Is he part of some MLM/Pyramid type business?  That whole "passive income for dummies" thing where you get rich quick would trouble me.

That said, sometimes experience (and mistakes) are the best teachers.  I wouldn't be opposed to a gap year.  DD thought about taking one but she got a large financial aid package and didn't want to risk deferring.   Like others have said, set boundaries/requirements and be ready to make him suffer the consequences if he does listen to SS and fails.

dessy101's picture

To be honest I didn't really know extactly what SS did until now with DS talking. I always thought he worked for BM's father. But when I heard what he did it kind of sounds fairytale like. SS apparently does eCommerce on Amazon. He also does freelance social media marketing work for other eCommerce businesses. Are you sensing my skeptisim here.

I am truly not oppose to a gap year if he wanted it without SS influence.

Gimlet's picture

So he's an Amazon seller? Of what?  Yeah, um, freelance social media marketing work could cover a lot of things.  What kind of "marketing" work?   This sounds pretty sus, honestly.  And where does this fit in with real estate investing?  Does your DS have a nest egg that he's planning to use?

It depends on how hard-headed your DS is I suppose.  If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

dessy101's picture

I am not exactly sure if I am going to be saying this right or not. I asked SS and this was what I gather. Apparently he teaches other online sellers how to use a tool and also helps further tweek and develop a tool that can analyse ad performance. It is supposed to help companies know how many times ads gets clicks, what social media platforms are they getting clicks from and what words appeal more to customers and how much money you are supposed to pay to have the maximum effect to drive traffic.

advice.only2's picture

Sounds like a pyramid scheme. SS probably gets more "commission" the more people he brings in to the "company" to work. When I was first out on my own and very young I went to a "job interview" where they wouldn't tell us what product we were selling or how much we would be making, but to go home and call all our friends and family and tell them about this amazing mystery product and get them to "invest" in it. I walked out halfway through, as I was leaving the "presenter" literally tried to shame me into staying. Turns out their great new product was selling cheap knock off perfume and if you worked hard and earned enough "points" in the company someday you could have your own shop.

dessy101's picture

DS says that SS gets paid as an afiliate if he refers people. But he insists that it isn't MLM in the traditional sense because you can only sell this tool/application to someone who is starting or already has an online business and not on a large scale on people's doorstep. It is also a subscription thing, so you pay monthly for this tool and they offer a 30 day refund per DS.

Thankfully DS hasn't bought anything. According to him he needs to get a starting job to finance him taking another path if DH and I won't help him. And guess who doesn't mind giving him a job? SS, but only on a part-time basis but it also gives DS an opportunity to network per DS again. 

I am just not seeing how this will all work out but DS seems determined to do this.

Gimlet's picture

Why would someone choose this tool over something like Google Analytics?   Just curious, I know you probably don't know the answer to that.

I agree with Advice, this sounds pretty darn MLM to me. 

Well, all you can do is give DS your best advice and let him decide.  If he doesn't have any money to take, it can't hurt I suppose. I do think it's a good year to take a gap year.

beebeel's picture

I would dig a little more and find out the actual name of the company that writes SS's checks. If it's a marketing scheme, former "employees" will probably have some bad experiences they've shared on the internet. If you could find that and show it to your son, at least he will be warned.

SteppedOut's picture

I am just going to throw this out there... 

I would not use a young real estate agent with no life experience whatsoever. 

He mayne can "get" his real estate licence... but can he find/earn clients? 

Going to college, even just "generals" will teach him basic business concepts - accounting, marketing, etc. as well as earning life experience. 

Exjuliemccoy's picture

He's too young to be taken seriously in that field.

dessy101's picture

I 100% agree but he thinks if he worked along with an older mentor he could make it. His head is way up in the clouds.

SteppedOut's picture

He should try finding said job/mentor before crashing his college plans.

Those jobs are fairly lucrative (in my area anyway), but they want people with a degree, experience and prepared to take the licensing test within six months. 

Survivingstephell's picture

I think this pandemic has given many a chance to rethink how to plan your future.  Having an essential job looks more attractive in hard times.  Trade school might be a very good answer for your son. 

I'd get him thinking long term and what he's wants to do, see and have in his life.  Taking a job based on commissions is a hard way to live when starting out. Would college help him get to where he wants to be quicker? Would a trade school do that?  SS makes good points but they sound like short term things which could make life long success harder to achieve.  Is your son good at networking, have the necessary social skills needed for real estate/sales?   

I don't think you need to panic yet but sit him down and have an adult conversation about this  new lifestyle we all have and how he thinks he can come thru it launched.  

Merry's picture

I will admit to being a university snob. My daughter, at 18, wasn't ready to be in college. Always a hard worker, but she needed another year of maturity.

But in my family we go to Prestigious University out of high school. So she felt pressured to do so, and I didn't know it or pick up on it. And she flunked out pretty thoroughly..

What finally turned her around was a general education course of study at the community college. I really had my arrogance handed to me, and I deserved it. In that program she had to take a bunch of different courses, and she found something that clicked with her.

She starts her doctoral program in the fall.

You might consider that part of his exploration include basic coursework that will transfer to universities. He'll get some of those early requirements out of the way if he does decide to pursue college later, and he'll have some time to mature a bit more.

Problem now in higher ed is that so much is online or hybrid that it's really hard to have a "normal" college experience. We're heading into a new normal, but don't know quite what that is.

ndc's picture

Your SS is right about one thing . . . if ever there was a year to put off college and take a gap year, this is it.  I don't think you mentioned whether DS was going away to school, going to a local 4 year or going to community college.  If one of the first two, I'm assuming he would have already made his decision and talked to the school about deferring admission if he's going to take a gap year.

I would not discourage the gap year, and I wouldn't discourage him from having SS mentor him.  First, he's an adult and you're not going to be able to dictate what he does.  Second, from what you've written in the past, SS is an accomplished, educated, successful individual who might well be able to help your DS, if he's sincere about this.  If not, your DS might learn a hard lesson.

What I would point out to DS is that education is important and you fully expect him to go to school next year.  Remind him that SS went to college and earned his degree, and no matter what SS says of his reasons for doing so, he DID get his college education.  Also remind him that SS has wealthy family to fall back on, and can therefore take risks that might not be prudent for DS to take.  

I see nothing wrong with charging DS rent, nor do I see anything wrong with letting him live with you rent-free and save his earnings for his future college expenses.  I also see nothing wrong with putting a time limit on your financial assistance with college, although I would certainly give him at least a year's leeway.  Not every kid is ready to go to college immediately following high school, and it doesn't do a kid who doesn't know what he wants to do a lot of good to go when he's not ready and spin his wheels.  A year off may give him an idea of what he does (or does not) want to do with his future.  In your shoes I'd be leery of SS, but you're going to have to let your DS figure out if SS is a concerned half-brother trying to help him and mentor him, or if he has something less altruistic in mind.


ITB2012's picture

It does sound like your SS may be in some sort of pyramid scheme. You could look him up on LinkedIn. If what he's doing is on the up and up, he'd have a profile and links to what he's doing. You'd be able to check. 

Is it possible your DS is getting nervous about going to college? Both OSS and DS behavior changed prior to going and I even had a conversation with my DS about fears. He said he wasn't afraid but when we hit the end of moving him in and leaving campus there was some fear in his eyes and he admitted he didn't think saying goodbye would be so hard. He was fine but he's always gotten nervous during the build up to big events. 

dessy101's picture

According to DS, the change in direction is because he doesn't want to be stuck at a 9-5 with a couple weeks off for the next 30 years. He wants to be like SS, who spends weeks at a time traveling and doing cool stuff like all the time. He wants to live while he is young basically.

DH and I basically had a very long heart to heart with DS and let's just say he is adamant in what he wants to do. Perhaps I should create a new thread with more details but the above is what it boils down too.

Gimlet's picture

In that case, let him go and try.  You and your DH should come up with some boundaries and agree on how you plan to handle things if he fails and needs your help and what support you plan to give him in the meantime.  Is he planning to live with you? If so, how are you planning to handle that?

Maybe the reality of SS's lifestyle (that is built on having a degree) will be what he thinks, and maybe it won't, but the best way to find out is to try it. 

It's probably scary for you but that's really all you can do.  Experience is the only teacher sometimes.

BethAnne's picture

Your son could look to move abroad. Most developed countries outside of the usa do not have the same mad work till you drop culture that is pervasive here. Of course often getting visas is often easier if you are a student studying at a foreign university, on a student exchange program, sponsored by a foreign company or have qualifications and skills in areas that those contries are actively recruiting immigrants. 2020 or 2021 may not be the years to make an international move... but in 2 or 3 years time the world should hopefully look different. Working towards that goal is totally achieveable if he was interested in it. Even with a "9-5 job" in many countries you still have plenty of time with your evenings, weekends, public holidays and vacation time (usually more than in usa) to do what you want without having to stress about running your own buisness or be chasing clients etc. Working for coorporations is not always bad.

I would look at your friends, relatives and contacts who have the kind of lifestyle that your son is aiming for and use them as examples of people who to alternative routes and show him that there are many ways to get that sort of life. If he has multiple role models that he can draw from then he might not be so entrenched into thinking there is only one way (ss's way) to get what he wants.