Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
17yo DS - don't know what to do…(27 Posts)
My DS is 17 and coming to the end of his first year at college. Outwardly he is doing well with his courses, he has a Saturday job which he enjoys and everything seems fine but I am increasingly concerned about his lack of social life. He has people that he chats to at college but he doesn't socialise with anyone outside of his day to day timetable they all still keep to there old school friends. He has one old friend from school who he sees every few weeks but who is quite flaky and will drop him in a flash if theres a better offer. He won't speak to girls as he's too shy. He's played one particular sport long term but wants to give that up as he is not enjoying it anymore. He says it's pointless going to a gym as everyone is plugged into their headphones and its not social. How can I help him? How can he help himself? He doesn't want to go to Uni so he won't be pushed out of his comfort zone in that way. All I see is him at home/working for the next 8 weeks over the summer holidays with his family and no-one else. He's not bothered by it although he's bothered that I'm bothered. I feel like I've failed him as he's ended up alone with no-one to share anything with apart from his family. I want someone to be a good friend to him, love him like his family does, who wants to spend time with him, he's not a horrible person and doesn't deserve this
I would step back since he has told you he is content with his social life. He has college and a weekend job so is hardly a recluse.
Does he do much online? Teens often have a social life via gaming (which our generation can feel unsure about) but it is a thing.
My DS and his mates were a lot less organised at social plans than my DD’s. I think that is fairly usual.
I think you need to step back , sounds like you are giving him a complex.
If he’s not bothered leave him alone. He’s still trying to figure out who he is. Just be supportive and loving but let him be. He’ll find his place.
My son was similar at this age - could and would talk to people but didn't really go out and socialise. Preferring to socialise online through gaming. He became more outgoing when some friendly girls took him under their wing but it was a gradual process over the time he was at college. He didn't want to go to uni but was encouraged by the college to apply and then when he surprisingly (to him) got good enough grades he decided to go.
He has really come out of his shell and after two years there said to me "I have never had this problem before but now I have too many friends that I'm never in!"
Just wanted to give you some hope - your son will get there in his own way when he's ready.
you need to separate your own feelings from your son's feelings, and stop making your feelings his problem.
You mention feeling like you failed him, he will be alone, etc. I want to gently suggest that you are massively catastrophizing. He is 17. He's still working out who he is and that can mean many hours spent alone, possibly for several years still, and that's totally normal. Are you generally a very anxious person?
Don't try to railroad / guilt trip / bug him into doing certain things just because they will reduce your anxiety. YOU need to get your own anxiety under control. HE will almost definitely be fine.
My DS was exactly the same at that age and still is to a certain extent. He is now 19 and has a couple of old school friends he sees once every couple of months but chats to quite a few others online. He also didn’t want to go to Uni because he is a real home boy (I was exactly the same at his age). However I posted about him a couple of years ago on MN and someone made the suggestion that perhaps he could attend a local Uni but still live at home. I hadn’t even thought of that!
He now attends a local Uni about 45 minutes from us and commutes daily by car and train. He’s become more self sufficient and seems to have made some friends, although mainly girls. Like your DS he’s quite shy around girls and I know he would like a girlfriend but I think he will need to find a girl who will make the first move!
It’s been a slow process to gently push him out of his comfort zone. He now has a job in a well known supermarket where there are lots of youngsters and his confidence seems to be slowly growing. He’s been working lots of overtime so spending less time at home in front of his Xbox and he’s enjoying all the money.
I totally get your anxieties. My DS is the exact opposite of DH and myself. We are very outgoing and have lots of friends. We sometimes find it hard to understand why he seems to prefer his own company but we have to remember he is not us and what we enjoy is not necessarily what he enjoys. To add to my anxiety he is an only child and I worry that when we are gone he will be a lonely hermit and that really upsets me. However, as other people have said, they are s7till young and still working out who they are. I do look at the changes in him over the last year and think if his confidence continues to grow he may become more sociable and get some close friends but I also realise this is something he needs to work out for himself and I can’t do it for him.
My 17 year old is the same. As long as he is happy then I’m happy. He socialises via online games and at school. Occasional party but that is about it. Still quite happy to join us in the pub for a meal so I not going to push him out yet.
Would he like to volunteer? Scouts or with a sport or hobby? Might be something a bit different or might give him a whole new outlook.
This generation are more insular. My DS has brothers a generation older who were real party animals, so this late baby seventeen years later is a bit of a mystery. His friends are pretty much the same. They really are a boring lot.
Sounds like an average 17 yr old to me .
Mine is the same . It’s not like it was when I was 17 at all !!
I know someone like this. He’s about 25 now and is still a little socially awkward but has a great job and is doing brilliantly. He’s just not a sociable person and he’s fine with that. I agree with those saying to step back a bit.
I agree that these are your anxieties and not his. He is fine.
He will meet people through work and college, surely?
What is your concern here?
People don't need to surround themselves with acquaintances if they are happy with themselves and their own company.
Let him live his own life, he seems OK with it. He'll find stuff to do naturally, and if you over power him he may end up resentful and push you away. He'll find new hobbies and friends in his own time.
If he’s not bothered you need to stop talking to him about it. I am introverted and enjoy my own company, always have done. I did go on to get happily married but just general socialising has always filled me with dread! Not everyone wants to be out chatting and socialising all the time.
Cliche alert. It takes time to find your tribe. Sometimes longer than others.
If he does stuff he enjoys, he'll find like minded people and natural friendships will form. Five him the space to find out who he is so he can find out who is worth being friends with. I'm sure it'll come.
My son, 17, is exactly the same. He's happy so I'm happy. I don't say too much about it as it will give him a complex and be counter productive.
Back off mom.
You're putting your worries about it on him. Behave, stop doing that.
He's happy, leave him be. (If he was unhappy, it would be different). He's 17, he will find his own way.
I am trying really hard not to project my anxiety about the situation onto him. That's why I'm on here stressing and trying not to bug him! It's actually quite reassuring to hear that he's not unusual. When I think about the things that my husband and I had done socially by his age he seems so far behind. He is a classic homebody really, he's never happier than when he's spending time with his family. He'd say his Dad is his best mate if you asked him. Thanks for sharing info about your 17yo's though it does make me feel like he's not so unusual after all. This digital existence they all live seems to be replacing real life relationships and it's obviously the new normal nowadays.
Second that he's not unusual at all and suggest you relax and leave him to it.
Firstly don't worry, not all teens desire an amazing social life especially if they are keen on computers. But you could encourage a hobby, a sport or something where he interacts with others - board game meets perhaps? If he's not fancying university look into higher apprenticeship programmes which are more likely to have other young people
You describe my DD 17 exactly, we should get them together to sit silently at home/go to work!
I have a 17 year old dd. They seem to socialise differently nowadays. Whereas our parents might despair that we went out too much, we despair that we don't think they go out enough.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, quick, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Get started »
Please login first.