Feeling really sorry for 13 yr old son (football and friends!)(16 Posts)
Hi. My 13 yr old had 2 best friends until 6 months ago when they stopped including him in things and now barely speak to him. Unfortunately they are still in the same group who walk to school, play football etc. he has a few other friends (also in this group) but doesn't really see them much put of school.
Anyway he's in the school football team and usually gets a game every time they play. One of the ex friends quit the team after 1 game as he didn't get played but came back two games ago and has got to play in the quarter and semi final of a cup match and my son has had to be the substitute. He came in tonight after they had been away to the semi final and was so upset that he didn't get a game and had to watch from the side the whole match. Also the team are going to the park to 'celebrate' tomorrow and he says he won't go.
I know it sounds a bit petty but I'm so sad that everything is going wrong for him and that it's a further knock to his confidence. I also feel like emailing the teacher who is the coach and saying that it seems unfair that he has been committed to the team all year but didn't get to play in the semi final (dreading the final!) at all. I've been trying to encourage him to ask friends round but he won't do it and I'm worried this will now make him feel more excluded.
What should I do? We always end up arguing when we talk about these kind of things as he won't give much away and feels that I go on too much about his friends and giving him advice but I can never help myself.
I think that hard though it is you have to listen to your DS and not get so involved in his friendships. The more you try to get involved the less he will tell you. Don't email the teacher- they pick the best for the team.
It is hard but I really do feel exotic is right. I have a 13yo ds and I often feel at this age they need us, a lot of the time, in the way we need Mumsnet: as a sounding board and a safe place to vent rather than as somebody who will rush in to sort out problems.
(though actually it would be pretty impressive if Cogito or AnyFucker could come galloping up on a white charger to sort out my life )
Maybe you can help your son to clear things in his mind and see that there are actually two separate problems here:
a) The first is that he was not picked to play in the semi-finals.
This is obviously upsetting but it will have been about who played best on the day. It's just one of those things that you have to suck up and put your best face on about. Somebody has to be a reserve, somebody has to get the part of the third tree from the left when they'd rather play Prince Charming. You can gain socially from behaving well over it, you can't gain in terms of the game by behaving badly.
b) The second is that an old friendship group has fallen apart.
This again is very hurtful, but it is a normal part of life. Even in adulthood friendships grow and falter as people grow in different directions, even more so during the teenage years when people change very quickly. The good news is that there will be other potential friends who will now be growing into him. Again, nothing you can do and probably a hurt he has to go through. But acting maturely, at least on the outside, will help him enormously. As an adult you can help by providing that little bit of outside perspective.
And above all, not muddling the waters: keeping friendship problems apart from the game, practising acting "professional" about it. If he doesn't feel up to attending the party, invent a polite excuse, rather than letting them think he is in a strop.
I feel for both you and your son- its is so hard to watch this from the sidelines and not interfere, but I think you have to take your cue from your son here- he is telling you to back off so I think you have to. ( obviously unless there is some real bullying going on)
Re the football team, again it is so frustrating to see this and at primary level I would tend to agree with you that things should be a bit more all inclusive and reward effort and team committment as well as pure ability. But I am afraid that at secondary level that starts not to apply- the school will always pick the best team for the match. The "ex friend" may now have come back and realised he does want to be a part of the team and the fact that he once quit will be forgotten.
I think most sports coaches I have been involved with, with my DS ( now 15) will pick the best available team. The only caveat to that , is that some coaches have enforced a rule which is that if you don't turn up to training in the session before the next match without good reason ( and prior notification) you won't be picked. This did stop the able but uncommitted from just turning up for the matches without committing to the training slog.
Is there a club he could play for outside of school? Our local side has both A and B teams and virtually anyone who wants to play gets a game.
Thanks for all the replies. I know I have to let him sort out the friends thing himself, I always just think I can see a solution for him. I think the fear of being rejected is there right enough. I feel angry with the 2 friends who have dropped him as they have been friends all their lives. Also had a look at twitter just before the football match and one of the ex friends had sent messages to every other member except my ds, wishing everyone good luck, chatting etc. I'm so angry with him as even if he doesn't want to be good friends it feels like he is deliberately excluding him and obviously not getting a game is the final straw.
I understand that the best team should play but he is actually as good as some of them so I feel it would have been fair to let him have a chance rather than stand on the side for the whole game ( but what do I know about football!)
My son is in another football team and goes to the boys brigade but the ex friends do the same things so he's not getting a chance to be himself with new people. I'm a bit worried that as they are all part of the same group he will get left out. The ex friend invited everyone to the carnival the other week except ds! This is when I start going on about him arranging something etc then he gets angry with me. aghhhhhhh
I think that you are projecting a lot of your own feelings onto him- I'm not surprised that he is getting annoyed with you. You must let him deal with it his way. Friendships change. My DS had a similar problem, he started secondary with 2 good friends, they all got very friendly with a 4th who froze DS out, it did cause him a lot of upset but he eventually found other friends. If he gets upset and bullied you can step in, other than that you need to be less involved and keep off twitter and accept that sports coaches will not always make the choices that the parent agrees with.
It's impossible not to worry when you can see your DC being hurt.
Would it be feasible for you to go and support the team when they play in the final? It would be a brave teacher who wouldn't give him some part in the game, if his parents had turned out to watch!
I also agree with you that loyalty should be rewarded - although the coach is bound to want to play the team that will win.
And I agree with others about getting him involved in some additional activities if at all possible.
Step back, step back, step back!
Yes, it may well be that you think you see a way of solving his problems for him better than he can do himself. But the success of his adult life depends on him learning to solve his problems for himself. He has 5 years to practise in before he needs to start functioning at university or in an adult workplace. He will need that practice.
When he started learning to write, he obviously didn't do it as well as you could. But you didn't snatch the pen from him and do his homework for him just because you could see how it could be done better. You knew that he had to do his own stumbling. If you were a proficient footballer you wouldn't have offered to take his place in the match because you could do it better. You let him do it, and take the risk of failing.
If he is bullied you should step in- just as you or another adult would step in if he had an accident on the pitch. Otherwise you let him take the risk of messing up the game.
The other aspect to remember is that nothing damages you socially at this age more than the perception that you are an overprotected mummy's boy. Boys are very sensitive to this; chances are that you would do more harm than good by stepping in. This sort of thing will be remembered- don't land him with a reputation that may take him years to live down.
And a third point- to gain confidence socially, he needs to believe that he is actually competent to manage his own affairs. Every time you step in and try to arrange things for him you are telling him you don't think he is. And as you are one of the people who might be expected to know him best, this will have him seriously worried that perhaps there is something wrong with him, that perhaps he is incapable of managing his own life like other people. Parents who spend a lot of time worrying aloud that their children are lonely are basically conveying the message that there is something wrong with their child's life. I have seen children who were happy loners have all their confidence destroyed by a parent going on about it.
A much better message is: "Well, friendships shift and most people go through lonely stages in life. That is normal. It can be tough at the time, but it doesn't mean anything much, sooner or later you will find new friends. I have every confidence in you."
Listen but don't go on about it- as alpinemeadow says, one of the important jobs we do as parents is to distract.
A very sensible post from cory.
You really do have to step back and leave him to it.
My mother was interfering and I was 37yrs old! As she said 'I just want to wrap you in cotton wool and you not get hurt'. As I pointed out I can't learn through her experiences-I need to learn through my own. Life can't always be easy-adults have all sorts of traumas to deal with and it helps if you have managed your own problems as a child.
Listen, but don't try and step in an solve it all-very few people get through life without a few friendship problems, it is a learning curve.
Listen to exotic and cory, they speak a lot of sense.
It's very normal for friendships to change in the teen years - you have to step away and let them deal with it.
You will be doing him NO favours by contacting the coach because your little boy didn't get picked. I suspect he'd have to leave the team through embarassment, if anything.
Hi. Thanks again for some very helpful answers. I think you're right exotic that I am projecting a lot of my feelings onto him. Tonight, for example he said that one of the newer friends was inviting a couple of people over to watch a film ( although ds wasn't invited). Rather than say 'never mind, we'll do something nice etc), I started going on about how he had to invite people round or he would never get involved with new friends etc. it's all because I'm hurt for him and want to make it better.
He did however suggest to this friend going to the park today and they went although the two ex friends were there and I think it was really awkward for ds. I just find it incredible that you can be best friends for years then be totally ignored and excluded by them. I almost see that this is a form of bullying but nothing I can do anything about.
Cory, you also give some really sensible advice. I'm aware that I probably do make him think there's something wrong with him as I hear myself saying ' everyone else invites friends over except you' and so on. I feel terrible about this as I want him to be confident but then I can't understand why he can't just invite people over and make more effort. I know I should be distracting him but get so frustrated that he won't take my advice!
I think joining a new club would be good and he has recently got a punch bag and shown some interest in boxing and mentioned a local club. Although I don't want him to be a boxer I thought joining the amateur boxing gym may be good for his confidence but when I told him what times it was on he cha GED his mind. Again a confidence thing I think.
Anyway, I'm going to read your posts when I feel like telling him what to do to remind myself what an idiot I am! Thank you all so much, I really need to hear this.
It is one if the hardest parts of being a parent, I'm sure that we all want to smooth the paths of our DCs, but as they get older it does more harm than good. You need to step in for bullying,but this is just friendships evolving- and his way of dealing with it is not your way of dealing with it. Being supportive without pushing to your own agenda isn't easy.
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