For not being unable to stop worrying about my son's mental and emotional state?

(20 Posts)
baileybrit Fri 29-Jul-16 13:53:56

Instead of it being AIBU (regarding my thread) perhaps it should be "Am I overreacting?

I'm a Brit who lives in the States. DH is African-American and we have two kids - DD who is 12 and DS who is 18. In the last couple of weeks, I've been extremely worried about my son.

DS wants to become a professional basketball player. It's been his dream ever since he was 10-years-old. When he was little and couldn't put the orange ball down, I thought it was just a childhood passion (I wanted to be an actress when I was 10) and that he would grow out of it. But when he was about 15 he really began developing as a player. University scouts and segments of the local media began to take notice. Sometimes I cry when I think about just how much he has put into basketball. He wakes up at 4am every morning to go to the gym and then a shootaround later. Ever since he was 14 he has been very conscious about what he eats. He refused to go to parties with friends because he had a game the next day and needed to stay fresh. He has sacrificed large portions of his childhood with maturity and discipline way beyond his years. So far all the hard work and dedication has paid off.

Next year he's going to university on a full athletic scholarship. The way young players become professionals in the US is very different to the UK. Instead of teams developing their own young players through youth teams as young as 8 (as football teams in the UK do), in the US, the most promising prospects go to renowned universities (say unis known for their excellent basketball or football programs). They play for the university teams and scouts for the professional teams watch over the most promising young players in college. The minimum age to enter the National Basketball Association (NBA) is 19. At the end of the NBA season, 60 of the most promising young players from schools all over the country are chosen by the professional basketball teams. The player who is picked number one being perceived as the best player of the draft and the player at number 60 being seen as the least talented. So what happens with the most promising basketball prospects is that they only do a year at uni, drop out, declare for the NBA draft and are taken by one of the NBA teams, thus becoming a professional basketball player. This is the route DS plans on taking - he'll do one year of uni, drop out, and declare for the draft.

The thing is, it's not guaranteed that he'll be taken by an NBA team this time next year. The coaches and scouts who recruited him for the uni he's going to play for have said if he applies himself and plays to his full potential during his stay at their uni, he has a great chance of being taken in the top 15 during the draft (DS actually wants to make the top 5). I would actually rather he do the full four years of university (so he can spend more time developing as a player and also get a degree). But the stupid fucking logic of NBA owners and coaching staff is that if a player doesn't declare for the draft after the first year of uni, then surely he's not good enough. Only a tiny few of players are taken after they complete the full four years of uni - 90% of players taken only do one year. Plus since DS' had rapid a growth spurt recently (he grew from 6'4 to 6'7) his ankles are more prone to injury, so I would rather he finish school as an insurance.

I started to worry about my son's mental health after I caught him smoking weed in the early hours of the morning a couple of weeks back. He's always been so buoyant and charismatic - but days prior me catching him smoking, he had been very quiet and reclusive. He broke down crying when I found hum and said he was scared about college next year. About how the pressure of performing and making it were really getting to him. He said he was struggling to sleep because all he can think about is if he fails. That he'll see his life as a failure if things don't work out.

I and DH had a talk with him. DH isn't overly concerned about the situation. He also played college basketball as a young man and said the nerves and pressure are to be expected. Especially for someone with expectations of becoming a professional. Everyone (including my mother) keep saying the same thing - that's it nothing. My son has assured us the weed was only a one time thing. But I know DS. He's still melancholy and spending a lot of time alone. I suggested that perhaps he go see a therapist and he angrily shot the idea down. Pretty much all my family is saying I'm overreacting. But I don't think so.

I really worry for him - when I was his age I didn't face anywhere near the pressure and expectations he has faced throughout his young life.

katiekrafter Fri 29-Jul-16 14:05:18

I can't help or offer advice, but sending warm wishes to you for being so concerned about your talented son. It sounds as if he is very likely to achieve his aim. It's never easy to help a DC cope with disappointment particularly after having worked very hard, but maybe the experience of losing games (hopefully gracefully!) will help him if it doesn't work out. You could investigate other basketball professions such as coaching etc so that if the worst happens you have information about fall backs available.

QueenJuggler Fri 29-Jul-16 14:10:18

I wouldn't be fretting about the Y1 exit to declare for the draft - surely he can always go back to Uni after and finish if it doesn't work out? Or is that not realistic in the US?

Smoking weed however will scupper any chance he has of making the draft, and is possibly a sign that he's not coping with the stress. Does he listen to his coach? What would happen if you went to see his coach about this?

biggles50 Fri 29-Jul-16 14:13:10

Please get him off the weed. My son was addicted with devastating consequences. For some people weed is a poison and messes with their mental health. He is probably feeling pressured and out of his depth, sounds like counselling would be a first step. Good luck.

davos Fri 29-Jul-16 15:03:14

The weed needs dealing with. Regardless of how well he plays, that will ruin everything. His chances to fulfil his dream and his mental health.

I wouldn't accept that you happened to catch him the every first time he tried it.

The problem here is that if he can't handle the pressure. His choice is either give up his dream or find a way to handle the pressure.

Neither are good.

I think you should be worried. But apart from sorting the weed and supporting him, letting him know you are there, I can see what else you can do. You can't make him stop going for his dream.

davos Fri 29-Jul-16 15:03:47

Sorry that should be 'neither are easy' not good.

justilou Fri 29-Jul-16 15:41:56

If it means so much to him, why is he sabotaging himself? Does he want to fail the drugs testing? I would definitely get him some kind of counseling.

Excited101 Fri 29-Jul-16 16:34:19

Listen to your instincts. You know your son. I would suggest that the weed smoking is classic self sabotage. Could you do some research and see if there are interviews with famous basketball starts which talk about taking care of mental health, mindfulness, positive thinking and options beyond professional playing such as coaching so he doesn't see it as such an 'all or nothing' situation. Or even any players who have overcome drugs issues. Arthur any particularly that he looks up to that you could investigate.

baileybrit Fri 29-Jul-16 19:47:59

Queen Juggler: If he goes into the draft with an agent he can't go back to school if he is not taken. Only those who don't go into the draft without an agent (and they don't get picked) can go back to school. Also DS loves hishis high school coach. He's like a 2nd father to him. I can trust his coach but unfortunately the man is on vacation right now. But I have been thinking of calling him.

Davos: What rattles me even more is that DS doesn't have a history of crumbling under pressure. When he was in HS there were games where was under enormous pressure - college scouts were watching him and his team was performing. And while his teammates were losing their heads he remained calm and led his school to victory. One of the things the college scouts were impressed by was his ability to pull through adverse situations when the game was on the line. So to see him like this is completely new. DH suggested that the fact he's going to a new place- a place he has to reinvent himself, is also having an effect.

Justilou: That's exactly what I said to him when I caught him. That weed is a one way ticket to getting bounced out. Self-sabotage seems completely legitimate right now.

101: The funny thing is one of my son's favourite players had troubles with pot. He was actually suspended for it at one point. He had a lot problems and was perceived as a cancerous player - but he turned his life around and won an NBA title last year. DS was so happy for him he cried tears of joy.

QueenJuggler Mon 01-Aug-16 10:30:59

Can't he just reapply to a different school? Or doesn't it work like that in the US? Sorry, a bit clueless - certainly in the UK you can reapply to a different Uni at any point in your life.

mrsfuzzy Mon 01-Aug-16 10:47:56

you sound like a lovely caring mum flowers with your love and support your ds has a great wing woman in his corner ! hope it all works out for you both.

baileybrit Mon 15-Aug-16 16:02:00

Yes he can apply to a different school. Things are better with DS right now. My son got in touch with his new college head coach and voiced his concerns. The coach is a wonderful man. He came to visit us and eased DS' mind. He said DS is his most promising player on this year's team and that he has been in touch with the personnel of several professional teams and that they are keen on him. And that if he doesn't feel comfortable going in the draft next year he can stay in uni for 2 yrs and declare for the draft in his sophomore year. That won't be a problem.

The coach said the situation with DS isn't too uncommon with young men in his position. He has dealt with similar situations before. But he did say DS will be tested mentally (college basketball is huge in America - it is like a professional league of its own) and that he will have to rise up to the challenge without resulting to self destructive tendencies such as weed. And that when gets drafted to a pro team (he used the word 'when' and not 'if') the pressure to perform will be far greater. And that times it will probably feel suffocating but he just has to suck it up and play through it.

After talking to the coach I feel better regarding the situation with DS. But I still do worry. Ugh. I just don't like the thought of him being under such pressure. I would like your honest answers here - am I babying DS too much? I mean I know that as our kids grow they will inevitably face pressure (exams, social standing, etc) but I hate the thought. Do I have a problem with clinging onto the notion that DS is still a little boy? And are there any other mothers out there who have had trouble with letting their kids go into adulthood?

Thanks.

baileybrit Mon 15-Aug-16 16:02:02

Yes he can apply to a different school. Things are better with DS right now. My son got in touch with his new college head coach and voiced his concerns. The coach is a wonderful man. He came to visit us and eased DS' mind. He said DS is his most promising player on this year's team and that he has been in touch with the personnel of several professional teams and that they are keen on him. And that if he doesn't feel comfortable going in the draft next year he can stay in uni for 2 yrs and declare for the draft in his sophomore year. That won't be a problem.

The coach said the situation with DS isn't too uncommon with young men in his position. He has dealt with similar situations before. But he did say DS will be tested mentally (college basketball is huge in America - it is like a professional league of its own) and that he will have to rise up to the challenge without resulting to self destructive tendencies such as weed. And that when gets drafted to a pro team (he used the word 'when' and not 'if') the pressure to perform will be far greater. And that times it will probably feel suffocating but he just has to suck it up and play through it.

After talking to the coach I feel better regarding the situation with DS. But I still do worry. Ugh. I just don't like the thought of him being under such pressure. I would like your honest answers here - am I babying DS too much? I mean I know that as our kids grow they will inevitably face pressure (exams, social standing, etc) but I hate the thought. Do I have a problem with clinging onto the notion that DS is still a little boy? And are there any other mothers out there who have had trouble with letting their kids go into adulthood?

Thanks.

Willberry Mon 15-Aug-16 20:55:08

If he won't see a therapist will he see a sports psychologist? Most professional atheletes do.

RedHelenB Mon 15-Aug-16 21:04:08

I think there are a lot of ifs and buts to come. Best to concentrate on college and see what happens, take one step at a time.

WindPowerRanger Mon 15-Aug-16 21:20:24

I would be very worried if my son had all his eggs in one basket like this, and nothing else to give him pleasure or a sense of achievement. What kind of healthy outlet could he have?

It would be great to have something, as if he does make it there will be free or travel time to fill.

Perhaps now is a good time to get him into something artistic or manual as an activity he can do just for himself, with no performance expectations.

Does he like art, reading, debating, cookery, music (choir) or dance? Carpentry, metalwork? A present of classes in any of those things would be a good idea. Could he volunteer somewhere?

Even tai chi, yoga or mindfulness would be great habits to get into. They are soothing and good for athletic performance too.

wildcoffeeandbeans Mon 15-Aug-16 22:12:13

I don't think it's babying him to worry about him. That's just the way motherhood is, no matter how old our babies grow. He sounds like he's lucky to have such a caring mother.

I went to college in the US and you can go back at any age. I wouldn't worry about that.

Weed causes anxiety, so I wouldn't be surprised if he started smoking before he became quiet and anxious and not after. But it sounds like that isn't a problem now.

Whatever happens in his life, he has the determination to stick with things even when they're hard and make his dreams come true. Few very young people have that mindset. I bet he'll go far, no matter where life takes him.

baileybrit Mon 15-Aug-16 22:27:38

DS seems completely averse to any mode of counselling. I don't know why.

As to his hobbies outside hoops - he loves photography. He's actually shot a few weddings for family. He's very good at capturing candid moments.

Beyond the other issues, one of my worries is that when does the pressure stop making basketball fun for him? In a way I preferred it when he had no expectations of making it. He just played the game because of sheer love. He was so happy and carefree when he was on the court.

baileybrit Mon 15-Aug-16 22:30:16

Thank you for your post, wildcoffee and beans smile

QueenJuggler Mon 22-Aug-16 15:35:07

OP, this is an opportunity that doesn't come to many. If he wants it, don't baby him, he won't thank you for it later. And if he doesn't want it, he'll find out soon enough. At which point he can apply to a different school.

The thing about pressure is achievers deal with it. And almost create it themselves. He may yet surprise you.

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