My 17 year old son - worried.

(26 Posts)
PatrickDad Sun 30-Dec-12 13:04:20

My son is 17 and does almost nothing but sit in his room playing games on his laptop. He almost never has contact with friends. He went to the cinema a couple of weeks ago which was the first time in weeks. He never uses his mobile phone - no texts, no calls, in fact it's never even charged up. He doesn't listen to music or have any interests.

He doesn't seem depressed - he eats ok and seems fairly cheerful. He does a Saturday job in a charity shop which he has stuck at for the past year as part of Duke of Edinburgh.

He has recently been kicked out of 6th form because he was literally doing NO revision or homework at all. So now he is at home doing nothing. He is quite intelligent and can be articulate and personable when he wants to be. But he is making no effort to find work or a training course.

He has a non-identical twin brother who is the opposite and is doing well will his A levels and is quite sociable and outgoing.

I don't know how to approach this. We have tried taking a tougher line in the past (eg about homework) but it just makes him withdraw. Has anyone else been in this situation?

usualsuspect3 Sun 30-Dec-12 13:08:25

Can you encourage him to enroll on a vocational college course? Get some prospectuses for him to look through?

PatrickDad Sun 30-Dec-12 13:15:12

Thank you. Yes I have got details of vocational courses and apprenticeships. But he seems very uninterested. He doesn't argue or say he won't do it but just lets everything slide and then goes back to his room. I must admit I am mostly worried about his not socialising - I though every teenager was constantly on their phone.

usualsuspect3 Sun 30-Dec-12 13:19:21

I wouldn't worry about the not socialising too much, especially if he has a Saturday job. I expect he socialises on his Pc or through his game playing?

PatrickDad Sun 30-Dec-12 13:44:54

I feel the degree of his withdrawal is worrying. I'm pretty sure he socialises very little through his laptop/games.

Have other people been in this situation? I have spoken to a couple of friend about this. One said "he sounds depressed, he needs to see his GP. Another said you just need to get tough and make him get down to work. I didn't feel either of those were right.

PatrickDad Tue 01-Jan-13 17:27:55

I'm just bumping this up as I'd be very interested to hear if anyone else has had similar situation and how you approached it.

ll31 Tue 01-Jan-13 20:32:52

dont have child that age so no experience, would think fact he has job is v good tho, least that must mean some amt of communication is going on. other than that can only thinlk of blinding obviuos, sorry, which is need to get him to discover what he wants to do with his life, how to do that? would career advice of some sort help, but i can see getting him engaged is issue.

maybe if bro is always doing better then he's decided to stop competing , but how to figjt against that i dont know..

hope somwone with better advice posts

soulresolution Tue 01-Jan-13 21:18:58

Agree that the job/Duke of E is a positive sign that he is still engaged in some way. Is this withdrawal a big change in his behaviour or has he always been different to his twin?

nicefleece Tue 01-Jan-13 21:20:05

No computers upstairs?

young5 Wed 02-Jan-13 06:56:37

I have just joined this forum for similar reasons. My son is 17 and has withdrawn socially from his peers. He doesn't use his phone. Ignores messages from his friends. Won't go to gatherings or parties. He is in 6th form. Spends his free time doing his course work, goes to bed at 8pm without a word to us. He went out for a walk yesterday without saying where he was going. We tracked him down, 6 miles away from home in the dark on a road with no pavements or street lighting. He doesn't do drugs or alcohol or smoke. He has shut down from us. When we manage a 2 way conversation his temper flares within 2 sentences. We are worried about him. He is due to leave home for college this year. We don't trust that he will keep himself safe.

PatrickDad Wed 02-Jan-13 22:26:40

Hi young5, that is a worrying situation. How long has he been withdrawn from you and his peers?

Tortington Wed 02-Jan-13 22:27:55

withdraw the laptop

Dinglebert Wed 02-Jan-13 22:31:54

I don't really see what good withdrawing a laptop would do.

What does he say OP? Have you tried to talk to him?

My initial reaction is that it must be quite tough having a twin who sounds like the 'perfect' teenager. Maybe the pressure of trying to live up to that is just too much. Has your other son always been the bigger achiever? Would your troubled son consider counselling? Do you have a DP/DH? If so, would he open up if they were to do something together? (I think, traditionally, men like to talk side by side while working on something rather than face to face like women do).

BettySuarez Wed 02-Jan-13 22:57:45

Depression can take many forms so I wouldn't rule that out just yet.

I think you should very gently try to draw him out from himself. No big expectations or anything too overwhelming.

Maybe a small amount of sporting activity once a week or a commitment to do something with you - a small project perhaps?

Also bear in mind that even if other people are not comparing him to his twin brother, he will be. So make sure he knows that you understand he is different, unique and that he will follow his own path.

I sympathise as we have non identical twin daughters of the same age and they have both had their ups and downs

Bear in mind too that prolonged computer usage has been linked to depression in teens so you may want to consider cutting down the amount of time he spends online gaming.

Tell him that you are concerned about him, that you are going to keep a gentle eye on him and help him to steer himself in the right direction. He needs to be gently steered back in the right direction, nothing too drastic or scary though. Try to avoid all the 'dadisms' when talking to him as he is likely to just switch off mentally and emotionally wink

Don't rule out a chat with the GP either.

Good luck OP - it was easier when they were in nappies wasn't it? grin

KateShmate Wed 02-Jan-13 22:59:18

Hmm, I don't know much about teenagers but I agree with the PP, it sounds like he is finding it hard to know that he's got a perfect brother who has stayed on at school, socialises and is outgoing, whilst he is 'the exact opposite'.

I'm not saying that you compare them, but maybe he is sick of being compared, in general, by everyone.

I may be wrong but it sounds as though his brother knows what he wants to do in life and is knuckling down to achieve it; have you thought that maybe DS has no idea what he wants to do? Maybe he needs reassurance that it's okay to not know what you want to do?
Maybe he's actually really gutted to have been kicked out of 6th form?

timidviper Wed 02-Jan-13 23:07:40

OP, when my son was 17 I used to worry and ask why he didn't see friends more; he always said that playing computer games was socialising. He played on World of Warcraft and apparently they do that in teams so are conversing and interacting with other people. Is your son doing something like this?

DS went on to uni, got a good degree and now has a good job. He doesn't play on these games any more as he doesn't have time. I think the worry is more that your DS has dropped out than the games.

I agree that you need a chat with him, maybe just on the lines of how does he see his future? Where does he want to be in 10 years time and how can you help him get there.

Astelia Wed 02-Jan-13 23:31:22

I have a DD who is 17 and teach this age group. It is very tricky if they won't communicate- sometimes they can't articulate their unhappiness as they don't understand it themselves.

Can your DS's twin brother talk to him and see what is going on? Can your DH take DS away for a few days (eg walking in the hills) to try to make contact? Or is there a grandparent who can help? I wouldn't rule out a GP visit either.

However these chats need to be done carefully as teens really don't like being lectured. They will shut down and hide away if they don't like what is being said. It is like negotiating a minefield getting a two way conversation going.

Your DS can't hide in his room for much longer- he needs to be working or doing a college course soon. You are feeding him and providing for him and he is doing nothing in return. It is not a long term solution for anyone. I do feel for you and hope DS turns a corner soon.

PatrickDad Wed 02-Jan-13 23:45:14

Many thanks for replies. That has given me a some good ideas to think about. Hearing from people who have been in similar situations is definitely encouraging.

By the way I have no idea what all the abbreviations mean smile. DS, DH, DD....?

We have tried talking to him, but it's bit like herding cats. He's good at telling people what they want to hear.

I think probably having a twin is difficult, and he must compare himself even if not consciously.

Avuncular Thu 03-Jan-13 00:29:19

Young5 you are probably describing me perfectly - 45 years ago.

He might be just thinking.

It's a pivotal time of life and they have to get to know themselves and re-orientate for that big bad world out there. And I think it's even worse now than it was then for me.

Some years later on management courses I found myself classified as a 'Creator/Innovator'. The cap definitely fitted - I seemed to have developed the means - and had the secure home background - to be able to think 'outside the box' and go it alone on big new ideas.

So maybe think about personality types. But also i suppose I am (not too severely) 'manic/depressive'. So keep an eye open, and be receptive on the occasions when he does open up, but don't worry.

Avuncular Thu 03-Jan-13 00:33:11

Abbreviations

Theres a page headed acronyms up the top of the thread

not rocket science but I too found it all a bit daunting when I started this a mere week ago

Anyone got a cure for MN addiction?

Avuncular Thu 03-Jan-13 00:39:57

Personality types

This Wikipedia summary looks a good place to start (click on the link)

Astelia Thu 03-Jan-13 00:51:42

Anyone got a cure for MN addiction?

I lose hours of my week to MN, I'd like to hear if there is a cure grin.

young5 Fri 04-Jan-13 00:08:24

Thanks to PatrickDad and Avuncular. My DS is a highly creative type and a perfectionist so not a good combination in times of stress. This latest bout has been full on since September (college open days). There was a bit of an improvement today when he instigated a very short conversation with me.

PatrickDad Fri 04-Jan-13 12:34:52

Hi young5 - it sounds as though there are some encouraging signs with your son. He is not using drugs, tobacco, alcohol. He is keeping up his studies. And he is starting the occasional conversation. In what way is he creative?

soulresolution Fri 04-Jan-13 12:52:01

Hi Young5, I was a bit surprised when you said in your post that you 'tracked him down' after your ds went out without saying where. Does he always tell you where he's going and do you always go looking for him if not? What is that you are worried might happen to him?

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