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Worrying DS's social skills

(6 Posts)
tiggerkid Tue 02-Aug-16 10:15:11

Morning all,

I have a 14-year old son, who is the only child. Summer holidays are obviously in full swing right now and, once again, I sit here worrying about his antisocial ways.

He seems to have friends at school and his teachers tell us that he doesn't appear to be a shy child or one that has difficulties bonding with others.

When he is at home, it seems to be a different story. He doesn't see ANY other children outside of school. We have no relatives, who live near us and no children of similar age nearby as all our neighbours are either retired with adult children or ones with really young kids.

I suggested to arrange some days to invite his friends over but he just sayings he'll think about it and never comes back to it. I also keep trying to get him to initiate days out with his school friends and he says he doesn't fancy doing that. I also notice that many of his friends chat on apps like Snapchat, Whatsapp etc and invite him to group chats but he ignores all of them. His phone literally shows 100s of unread texts on various apps because he never bothers to open any of them. He is on Facebook as well but doesn't interact with anybody there either (not to say that I am encouraging him to do that but at least it would be something!)

The only thing he seems to be consistently interested in is watching YouTube. He doesn't watch anything that I would particularly worry about. It's just the usual YouTuber stuff. In fact, some of it is quite educational and interesting when you listen to it.

I was delighted when he expressed interest in joining the DofE at school. DH and I joined the 5K parkrun with him, so he feels less lonely and we encourage him to do volunteering as well as join all expedition activities. Initially, he was interested but now that seems to be fizzling out too and recently he mentioned he doesn't fancy doing any of it anymore. I kind of guilt tripped him into sticking with it because we paid £225 for him to join the thing.

Although generally he is a lovely boy, who is polite, gets good grades and overall doesn't cause us any issues, he does appear very lazy and apathetic. He doesn't seem to be depressed though as I often catch him laughing at his YouTube videos and occasionally when he does chat with some of his friends on Skype, it's all really cheerful and positive.

His school also has a programme for various parents to act as a host family to foreign pupils. Because DS is the only child, I considered that, did my research, had a conversation with the company who organises it and it's all very good. They even offer short stays such as half term, which is just 1 week. I thought it would be a good opportunity for my son to socialise. As soon as I mentioned it, he killed the idea dead and said: no way.

This has been a pretty much consistent issue for the last few years. Am I alone in this and am I worrying too much?

NoneOfYourShenanigans Tue 02-Aug-16 12:16:35

I don't know if it is of any reassurance but I thought I'd chip in. I felt much the same as you last year and had similar worries about my DS14. He definitely had lots of friends at school but just never made any effort for whatever reason. He then found himself a girlfriend several months ago and we are having completely the opposite problem with his now extremely busy social life! It just seemed to be the impetus he needed and whilst I'm really happy with developments, we're now wishing that he'd make just a small amount of time for us! Teenagers are funny things and you just never know what's round the corner I've found!

Amelie10 Tue 02-Aug-16 12:19:04

Sounds like he is quite happy to be by himself, is he introverted. Maybe he is relishing the downtime from school and friends? As long as he doesn't seem depressed or withdrawn he sounds ok to be getting on with his own stuff.

tiggerkid Tue 02-Aug-16 12:35:47

Amelie10, he is definitely an introvert and I suppose it isn't a shock as both DH and I are too but I just don't remember having any issues with having friends at that age. I didn't have 100s of them but I did have them. We used to hang out together all the time. I did wonder whether he just wants a break from his school friends but these breaks seem to last an awful a lot of time and he doesn't seem to miss their company. He also doesn't seem to have any attachment to any of his friends, i.e. doesn't appear to miss their company, the conversation or anything.

NoneofYourShenanigans, thank you for the reassuring reply but I have to say I seriously question as to how he is ever going to get a girlfriend when he acts like he can't even be bothered to shower or brush his teeth! You do give me hope though that things might change!

myownprivateidaho Tue 02-Aug-16 12:50:02

Hmm, this is a tough one. Obviously it's fine for him to be introverted and not want to hang out with others all the time, but friendships are valuable even for introverts, and he's going to lose friends if he steadfastly ignores his friends' messages. Plus it's not a nice way to treat people, though I don't know whether telling him that would make any difference. Have you asked him why he does this? Personally I tend to find messages/emails stressful to read and reply when I'm feeling stressed out.

tiggerkid Tue 02-Aug-16 12:53:36

myownprivateidaho, valuing friendships is the reason why I worry. The messages he ignores tend to be the ones in group chats with multiple people involved. I did ask him why he does that and he says he is just not interested in the topics his friends or classmates are discussing. I suggested he initiates other topics but he never bothers. I am not really sure what to do if I am honest.

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