Son is psyched to study psych on parents' dime

August 20, 2013 

Dear Amy: I have a 22-year-old son who just graduated from an out-of-state university, which we paid for.

Now that he is back home, he tells us that to maximize his major (psychology), he will "need" to pursue a master's degree because he would like to be a clinical psychologist.

He now has a part-time job and is also paying rent/bills. He wants us to pay for his additional schooling.

He does not want to be in debt and take out loans because he believes we have some extra money to help out. What do you suggest?

— Mommy big bucks

Dear Mommy: Your son sounds impressively self-directed (working, paying rent and expenses). He is correct that in order to pursue the goal of being a clinical psychologist he will require more schooling.

The next step for him will be the burden of successfully negotiating with you about what you will (or won't) pay for. This is great practice for a future psychologist. He is solely responsible for fulfilling his own goals.

He should research and pursue financial aid through grants, scholarships or fellowships. If (after putting together his financial package) he still needs a financial bridge in order to fully fund his education, you might be willing to formally loan him this money (at low or no interest), to be repaid once he completes his education and secures a professional job in his field.

If you can't do this — or simply don't want to — he will have to decide whether he is willing to take on personal debt or pursue his higher degree in stages, as he can afford it.

Dear Amy: The letter from "Reluctant Wig Wearer" really hit home.

I, too, had a therapist who was treating me for depression and who spent a lot of time talking to me about my hair. (I have challenging hair; sometimes it's frizzy, sometimes it's flat.) She took my grooming practices as possible signs of my depression.

Additionally, my eye makeup was under review. We would sometimes review my whole grooming routine for half the session. She also thought I dressed too casually because I wore Uggs. It reminded me of being in high school. Ironically, this was one of the reasons I was seeking therapy.

— Happily cured

Dear Cured: I've received a high volume of mail on this topic. To a person, every respondent feels strongly that a therapist should not be offering subjective judgments about how a person dresses.


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