DSS1 "hates being by himself" but doesn't spend any time with friends

(43 Posts)
allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 10:59:18

Not really a step issue, but thought I'd post here as if I post anywhere else it will just be assumed it is my fault and in any case I'm an evil old witch for commenting

Some of you will be very familiar with my situation. For those of you who aren't I'll give a short summary. DSS1 is 17, also have a DSS2 who is 14. DSS1 (and DSS2 actually) doesn't ever spend any time socialising with friends. He doesn't ever actually mention any friends, so we're really not sure whether he has any or not, although when DS asked he says he does, in school, but that he just doesn't want to see them outside of school.

He finds it literally impossible to entertain himself. So if there is a spare moment during your typical weekend down time for example (in between all the normal outings, visiting family, eating etc etc), he literally does not know what to do with himself and asks "what are we doing next dad". DH has tried for a long time to encourage him to think about what he would like to do himself. Also suggesting and finding various activities for him to do. But clearly getting ridiculous at this age. At his mother's house, this problem doesn't really exist because his mother is of a very controlling nature and literally he does everything with her - trips to Tesco, every last thing. So he simply never has any "down time" at home to deal with.

So yesterday, we had friends round and the subject came up of whether we like our own company. And DSS1 pipes up that he hates his own company and being by himself.

This is somewhat of a dilemma for someone who doesn't want to spend any time with his friends. So either he's with a parent 24/7 or he's seemingly miserable confused

theredhen Mon 22-Apr-13 13:16:52

Most 17 yr boys amuse themselves with play stations, x boxes etc. does your dss do this? I'm not saying its ideal every minute of every day but it is something to do between other tasks.

I almost think its too late to try and teach him to amuse himself. I think you just have to manage his behaviour the best you can (if that means telling him to do something away from you, then so be it) and encourage him to be more sociable where you can.

NotaDisneyMum Mon 22-Apr-13 13:18:59

Sadly, I know lots of people who are unhappy with their life, but don't take simple steps to change it themselves! Seems like your DSS1 is going to be one of those people.

I'll take a guess that your DP 's ex is one, too - complains, moans and whinges about being one of lifes "victims" but when anyone has the audacity to suggest that she could change it herself, she takes offense!

Your DSS1 parents are not responsible for his happiness - he is an adult, and quite capable of making his own choices in life. That is not to say your DP (and you) shouldn't support him - but the time has long past for his "weekend playdates" to be arranged by Dad!

Your posts scare me; my DSS is going to be just like your DSS1 sad

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 13:57:50

redhen - he used to play more xbox but these days will only do it when sat next to DH on a Sat eve or whatever if I'm doing something else. So he won't even slink off to his bedroom and play xbos on his own - it's still another parent led activity iyswim. He even wants to do his homework sat in the living room and has to be forced to do it upstairs. Literally he has to be forced away from limpet like behaviours on an hourly basis.

NADM I suspect you're right. It will be interesting to see what happens when he goes to university for example and there is very little adult intervention in his studies (well apart from his mother's invention, that won't change).

theredhen Mon 22-Apr-13 14:13:51

I spend lots of time trying to get ds to do things with me so this is pretty alien to me! He does sound terribly insecure, but ultimately that's not your problem to solve.

Petal02 Mon 22-Apr-13 14:18:57

I agree that, in theory, it shouldn't be Allnew's problem to solve - but when no one else solves the problem, the consequences have a significant effect on Allnew's life.

PeterParkerSays Mon 22-Apr-13 14:41:42

A bit of an odd suggestion but can he cook? what would happen if you (or probably his dad) sat in the kitchen with a mug of coffee whilst DSS made chicken fajitas for tea, or spag bol?

If he's planning on going to university, you can refer to it as developing the skills he'll need to fend for himself, using the washer etc.

I guess it's more to do with getting him to do stuff alongside other people, dusting whilst you hoover, putting the bed sheets in the wash whilst you make the bed, rather than being attached at the hip. It might also help his confidence a bit.

PeterParkerSays Mon 22-Apr-13 14:42:57

also, does he like reading? Could you get him a kindle / manga comics etc/. so he has something to dip into, which can be kept in his room?

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 14:53:44

Unfortunately he doesn't like reading sad. Not interested in music, or the arts. Will do sport but when accompanied by a parent, otherwise not interested. Had joined a club but that fizzled away and there was one excuse after the other for why he couldn't go each week.

Cooking - we have tried that, but he finds reasons why he needs to call DH over to "help". So again it ends up being a parent accompanied activity. I have no doubt that he actually "can" cook though.

In reality I can't see him moving away for university. He has never spent more than a few hours away from a parent (except for a school trip a few years back for a few days). And I can't see his mother allowing him to move away anyway.

I'm really fearing years and years of this limpet behaviour in the future with no end in sight.

NotaDisneyMum Mon 22-Apr-13 14:56:18

I agree that, in theory, it shouldn't be Allnew's problem to solve - but when no one else solves the problem, the consequences have a significant effect on Allnew's life.

This is so true - and the you knew what you were getting into argument just doesn't apply when a DC who was dependent on adults at the age of 8 is still just as dependent when they are 18 confused.

There is plenty of advice of the SN boards to help parents come to terms with the fact that their family lives may not work out the way that they had planned/dreamed/hoped; it is perfectly acceptable for parents of DCs with special needs to grieve for the future they will never have, whether that be family holidays, a retirement abroad or even a regular night out at the theatre.

Theres nothing for SM's whose DSC haven't developed in line with their peers, but the DC's parents choose to ignore it!

Petal02 Mon 22-Apr-13 15:21:18

As someone who has an 18 yr old DSS, who is just as under-developed as Allnew's DSS, I completely understand the frustration this causes. Neither DH nor DSS's mother seem bothered about DSS's lack of life skills and generally seem to content to continue treating him as though he's 10.

PeterParkerSays Mon 22-Apr-13 15:23:48

Does your DH ever go out when his son is with you, without DSS?

If your DSS started to cook tea, and his dad decided to go out and buy some beer or hire a DVD, what would happen?

How much of a problem, rather than an irritation, does your DH recognise this as?

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 15:32:28

"How much of a problem, rather than an irritation, does your DH recognise this as?"

DH is at the end of his tether with it tbh. He definitely recognises it as a problem and to be fair has tried hard to tackle it.

"Does your DH ever go out when his son is with you, without DSS?

If your DSS started to cook tea, and his dad decided to go out and buy some beer or hire a DVD, what would happen?"

He'd probably just get on with it I guess if it was an isolated event. But in answer to your first question, then no, we don't "go out" when DSSs are with us. Well actually we did once - we got BIL down to "babysit" though as we have a 4yo DS and I simply wouldn't leave him in DSSs care. "Access" is very much seen as a calendered event still, despite their ages. So we consult the access rota before making arrangements for example, rather than making arrangements and seeing DSSs flexibly. DSS1 very much sees the access rota as 100% applicable to him, despite it expiring when he was 16. It wouldn't occur to him to visit DH in between EOW access visits (and if it did he wouldn't be allowed anyway by his mother). So he would find it really odd if DH went out when he's here, almost like "well I'm here for access why on earth are you going out". Like he still sees himself as that little kid dad was lucky enough to get to see EOW like some prize

colditz Mon 22-Apr-13 15:43:07

That's ... Really bad, actually. Seventeen and cannot be away from a parent for more than a few hours? Is he very very immature for his age?

I ask because at seventeen, I was camping for a week in Wales with a mate, not following my parents around the house!

Petal02 Mon 22-Apr-13 15:45:54

DSS would find it really odd if DH went out when he’s here, almost like ‘well I’m here for access why on earth are you going out.’ Like he still sees himself as that little kid dad was lucky enough to get to see EOW like some prize

Yep, I totally get that, particularly the last sentence, about DSS almost seeing himself as some sort of prize. It’s a very weird dynamic.

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 15:46:48

Yes he's extremely immature, always has been. His 14yo brother is much, much more mature.

He is very "mummied" at home. Has always been actively encouraged to be dependent, rather than independent. And whereas some children would have rebelled, it's become what's most comfortable for him. To the point that when he's given more freedom at our house to make decisions, he crumbles and wants to be told what he's doing next.

Petal02 Mon 22-Apr-13 15:48:19

PS - Colditz, I think most 17 yr olds do normal stuff like you describe. My DH joined the armed forces aged 16 (and I doubt his regiment pandered to any sensitivities ......) and yet he's happy to accept that DSS18 needs intense parenting. And this is why I really sympathise with Allnew.

Jan45 Mon 22-Apr-13 15:49:32

He sounds very immature and yes a person who will not think for himself, at 17 he should not be `hanging` about with parents, he should be with friends, perhaps he lacks confidence and social skills, it's frustrating but you must remind yourself and perhaps him that it's up to him now to entertain himself, he's nearly a fully fledged adult, get on with it and don't let him being like that make you feel like you have to `fix` it - hopefully in time, he'll get so bored, he'll actually make a decision and go do something for himself.

PeterParkerSays Mon 22-Apr-13 15:54:39

In that case, I think your DH needs to sit down with DSS and use yesterday's conversation as a starting point for a discussion: "You said yesterday that you hate being by yourself and in your own company, what is it that you dislike", "what could make you think differently" etc.

If DH states that he's concerned that your DSS will struggle at unversity if he can't find something positive in his own company, and build friendships with his peers, DSS may start to realise why this is an issue.

You mentioned that your DSS has done clubs which have fizzled out, but has he ever done stuff where you have to go away from home - Duke of Edinburgh award, venture scouts etc?

Does he have a part time job, or could he do some voluntary work, so he has experience when he gets to university and wants to find a part time job?

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 15:59:55

It's funny you say that Jan45, because DH said a few months ago that he was actually actively trying to let DSS1 get bored to try to initiative him doing something for himself. It didn't work sadly. DSS1 just sat on the sofa looking around him like he was lost (while meanwhile DSS2 and DS were individually happilly entertaining themselves confused)

Jan45 Mon 22-Apr-13 16:08:18

Good, let him sit and be bored, okay at mum's he follows her about like a lapdog, fine, at yours, he has to behave like a 17 year old, that's the difference, don't give in, he will get bored and get the message, eventually!

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 16:13:09

He refuses to look for a part time job as he is "too busy" hmm with schoolwork. Although in any case there is no way his mother would let him (he helps her out a lot with the younger ones).

DH actually had the "serious conversation" with him a month or so ago. Said that he needed to start to take initiative and ownership over his life, get out more. Talked about suitable activities/clubs. He said DSS was very reluctant to be drawn into the conversation and kept saying "I'm fine". DH actually said to him at that point that he wouldn't let him sit around doing nothing, and if he didn't find something to do then DH would find him jobs to do in the garden. But I suspect DSS would love that solution because then he would still be with parent.

TBH if it wasn't for DSS2 then DH would have the avenue of just leaving DSS1 in the house more.

At one point he did say he was going to do DoE but then that came to nothing.

PeterParkerSays Mon 22-Apr-13 16:20:18

Sorry, but do you have a flat head where you're banging it against the wall? grin

How about going out as a family to do something like geocaching, where the boys have to be responsible for finding the location, or going out cycling and they have to plan the route? I think I'd try to get him to do more with his brother / your DS instead of his parents. Could the lads all camp out in the garden together with the better weather coming?

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 16:21:24

PeterParker I do definitely agree on the need for him to think about how he's going to cope with university given that this will require (hopefully!) more time away from parents and the need to spend more time on his own/with friends.

It's difficult to describe, but he simply sees going to university, getting in and succeeding at it, as an academic exercise. Although yesterday he said he was looking forward to university because of the clubs. I nearly fell off my chair, because I simply can't see him joining a club if his mother isn't in it. He hasn't joined any at school for example, so I'm not sure why he thinks there is going to be some miraculous change just because he's at university confused. He would actually have to take the initiative of joining a club, whereas previously, his mother has arranged everything for him. But she can't join university clubs on his behalf

PeterParkerSays Mon 22-Apr-13 16:24:03

Here you are, sorted! He you his dad can apply to join the tall ships race. Do you think he'd prefer Scandinavia or Eastern Europe? grin

Sorry, must try to be more sensible.....

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 16:28:02

grin - good idea!

Do you know the awful thing - I saw this coming. Years and years ago, DH and his family were all saying, "he'll grow out of it", "he'll be fine when he's 16 and can come and go as he pleases". Others said "he'll rebel, just wait and see".

I'm not happy to say "I told you so", but I did.

NotaDisneyMum Mon 22-Apr-13 16:41:45

DH actually said to him at that point that he wouldn't let him sit around doing nothing, and if he didn't find something to do then DH would find him jobs to do in the garden. But I suspect DSS would love that solution because then he would still be with parent.

I've read about some fabulous military-style "jobs" given to teenagers on american parenting forums smile

One family I remember had a 1 tonne pile of gravel in their yard (garden) and it's sole purpose was so that the parents could set the teens the task of moving it from one location to another as a consequence for transgressions such as staying out after curfew, disrespect etc. the gravel pile had migrated around their yard over the course of several years while their teen-boys grew up into adulthood!

Could you order a pallet-full of house-bricks to be delivered that will need moving, by hand, from the front to the back of the house, for instance? If your DSS1 is unable to occupy himself, then it's an ideal task! Once your DP gets DSS1 going, he can leave DSS to it make a swift exit to the local pub, relax in the bath, read the sunday papers

PeterParkerSays Mon 22-Apr-13 16:47:56

Disneymum but that's a punishment. THe DSS hasn't done anything wrong in this case, he's just completely lacking backbone, self motivation and self reliance.

Could you invite any school friends around, whether he wants them to come or not?

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 16:54:05

Actually funnilly enough we did have a pile of bricks at the side of the house that I was mithering DH to move - unfortunately he did it eventually!

PeterParker - we don't know who they are. He doesn't mention any friends

NotaDisneyMum Mon 22-Apr-13 16:59:26

Disneymum but that's a punishment. THe DSS hasn't done anything wrong in this case, he's just completely lacking backbone, self motivation and self reliance.

I don't think it would do a 17 year old any harm to discover that the natural adult consequence of "lacking backbone, self-motivation and self-reliance" is that he will be taken advantage of, put upon and his good nature will be abused.

There is no suggestion that he can't occupy himself - for instance, the OP says that he is capable of cooking alone but chooses not to - he is choosing this way of life because it's easier/more comfortable/familiar to do things with an adult alongside.

exexpat Mon 22-Apr-13 17:01:18

You can't invite a 17-year-old's friends round on his behalf shock . If he actually has any genuine friends, and they haven't already noticed that he's a bit immature, that would be absolute social death for him.

Do you live somewhere where you could start sending him out on errands, eg you realise you have 'forgotten' some crucial ingredients for a meal, and send him to the shops with a list? Does he do any household chores which would involve him being on his own for more than 10 minutes, eg mowing the lawn, changing beds? Not as punishments, just things that nearly-adults should be doing to help, and which he should have been doing for four or five years already... Is he learning to drive?

But in your position, I would be starting to wonder about getting psychological help for him, as his behaviour and dependency is clearly not normal.

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 17:02:34

When he was younger and came out with the usual "what are we doing next", I went through a phase of saying "well if you're bored you can mop the floor/do the dusting/etc etc etc., and I actually followed through with making him do it.

So I guess that was the same in a way

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 17:05:41

xposted exexpat

Funnilly enough, FIL bought him a course of driving lessons recently. I asked DSS yesterday if he'd been on any lessons yet. He said he's leaving it for now as he's too busy.

I do get what you're saying about psychological help, I have thought about it myself. I have also wondered about AS.

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 17:07:08

posted too soon.
I had read up on AS and he certainly displays several traits. A couple don't ring true though. One of them for example having a very strong interest in a very specific topic. He's never actually interested in anything, so that certainly doesn't apply. Clearly I'm no expert though.

PeterParkerSays Mon 22-Apr-13 17:11:15

Christ, what grades is he on course to get if he has no time for driving lessons or a part time job? grin

exexpat Mon 22-Apr-13 17:21:04

I am pretty sure you can be somewhere on the spectrum without ticking every single box on the diagnostic checklist. Has he ever had any kind of assessment? Or maybe it's possible to develop that kind of personality and behaviour in response to having a controlling parent.

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 17:28:38

Mostly I think it's the disastrous consequence of a narcissistic controlling parent, who is the Pwc (and therefore no dilution by another resident parent), plus a submissive personality. He is exactly what she wanted him to be, which is 100% reliant on her.

He's never had an assessment (although his younger sister) not DH's, has been previously referred to a psychiatrist.

theredhen Mon 22-Apr-13 17:51:53

All new, when I said its not your problem, I only meant that if his parents are both allowing this behaviour (which in my opinion is very unhealthy) then there's probably not much you can do. Just try and limit the impact it has in you. It must be incredibly frustrating and annoying!

Petal02 Mon 22-Apr-13 18:09:13

Even if Allnew's DSS did driving lessons, I'm not sure if would help. DSS18 now has a car and a licence, but the only place he wants to drive to is our house, to hang out with his Dad and adhere to the access rota. We've told him he doesn't need to stick to fixed visiting times any more, but that's what he wants to do.

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 19:04:17

That's ok redhen, I thought that was what you meant!

Yes Petal, upon hearing about the driving lessons, thvfirst thing i said to DH was "where is he going to drive to?". He doesn't go anywhere confused

Jan45 Tue 23-Apr-13 10:46:12

He will grow out of this, I was a bit like that and it was down to a bit of hanging onto my mother's tails but also lacking in self confidence and just not feeling good enough, I very rarely left the house and spent holidays watching old movies, I certainly didn't need a psychological assessment and in due course became the complete opposite with lots of friends and going out all the time - I did this myself, through no help from nobody, I got so fed up being on my own I decided enough was enough, he'll get there too, but only in his own time, not when you would like him to, it's frustrating I'm sure but honestly just wait and see what happens in the next couple of years, he could change completely.

allnewtaketwo Tue 23-Apr-13 11:09:06

It would be great if that were true Jan45.

One big obstacle though is that his mother has actively encouraged him all his life to be like this, and still does. She has an enormous influence over his life and in order for him to "break free", it would require him not only to have the desire to do so, but also to overcome the huge control she has over him iyswim. She doesn't want him to break free, and his main goal in life is to please her. She's a classic narcissist and he is the "golden child".

I hope you're right though!

Jan45 Tue 23-Apr-13 15:00:43

Yip, I was a bit the same with my mum, she was happy to have me under her feet 247. He'll realise one day that there's a big world outside that door and he will want to explore it, he's maybe still at that awkward stage physically too and has yet to `grow` into his face ifykwim, once he gains even just a little bit of confidence, there will be no stopping him and he might even end up resenting mum for trying to stop him. I know 2 years or so seems a long time but it's not really. I hope I'm right too!!! blush

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