Is he an irresponsible, self-centered kid?

I have an 18 year old son, a senior, (not to mention a difficult, type A, headstrong 14 year old girl who has made parenting the biggest challenge of my life and is what actually led me to you in the first place), who has me really concerned. He was always fairly "easy", reserved, a little shy, but started coming out of his shell last year with the typical stuff-some partying, reduced school effort, attitude, and so forth. He's always been, I'm embarrassed to say, pretty lazy as far as helping out around the house, earning $, etc., but we've stuck with our expectations, ie. chores, despite his disagreeable attitude.

Two summers ago he worked his tail off at a restaurant, and we thought he'd blossomed from the experience, felt mature, had $ etc. We live WAY out in the boonies and he has along drive to school (about 30 miles each way!)and last year (his junior year) we payed all car insurance, half car repairs and all gas for miles to and from school. When summer rolled around, he refused to increase his work hours (he worked one 4 hour afternoon a week) and wouldn't take us up on any offers to earn $ around the house. This year we said we'd pay all insurance again, but only half gas $ for school. (was this fair?) which is $50/week, leaving him $50 to pay.

He finally got a job waiting tables 3 nights a week at a place near school, but another 15 miles in the opposite direction from home! Then he started staying at his girlfriend's on the nights he worked because it was a 50 minute drive home at 10:00 at night, then even on the nights he didn't work he stopped coming home. It felt like I had no son, he stopped calling to let me know not to expect him for dinner until after the fact, though he used to be very considerate about that. After several weeks of arguing with him, my husband and I presented him with a compromise: be home for dinner on the school nights you don't work, one night you do, and on Sunday night since it's a school night. If not, no more gas$. Unfortunately, he did not take us up on this offer. Now he's quit his job because it's too far away and his wages and just all goes to gas. He's "looking" for another one, so he says. He pretty much comes and goes as he pleases.

He was accepted to some colleges, but is deferring admission for a year, which seems right since he's an able but very unmotivated student. We told him that if he chose to stay at home when fall rolled around, we'd expect him to pay room and board. We know he wants to be anywhere but home, which is right for his age, so it's kind of a moot point but he has absolutely no plans other than to buy land in south america, or try his hand at being homeless in Manhattan (he's a Jack Kerouak fan, but I think he's missed the point) but we just wanted to let him know. Now he is infuriated and hurt that we would even think to ask him to kick in any money, and uses that as a reason to be unpleasant, show up even less, and claim to have no need to work.

I guess effort and motivation are pretty low for him-maybe he fits into the indulged child you describe? We are pretty laid back parents, but really value being a family, while understanding his need to cut ties, but I am really worried at his lack of ...I don't know what. Am I just a mom who's morning the imminent loss of her child? Or is he an irresponsible, self-centered kid?

My Out-of-Control Teen

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