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18 year old son who refuses to grow up(20 Posts)
I have an 18 year old son who has dropped out of his A levels and is receiving help for depression and anxiety. His therapist feels his is stuck at about age 12 and cannot face the reality of becoming an adult. He refuses to acknowledge she may be right, but his behaviour says to me that she is totally right. He has no interest in going out with friends or getting a job. He just wants to hide at home but refuses to talk about why. Anyone got any advice as to how to help him move on?
Release the pressure?
Why has he been feeling he has to become a fully functioning adult the minute he became 18? Have you told him he is on his own after 18? Or have you been supportive throughout so he knows that isn't expected?
There has never been pressure to leave home, go to uni or be totally independent. He has a comfy loving home but has never wanted to grow gradually into an adult. He has no interest in doing small things for himself or taking control of any aspect of his own life. It has only come to a head now that he is approaching 18 and will not go to college or get a job. He is just refusing to move on to adulthood.
This must be a worrying situation for you. Do you think he is suffering anxiety? I assume you have been to your GP as he is having counselling. Maybe start with small steps. If he is not in work or education, he needs to be contributing, so should be expected as an adult now to help around the home and garden. He may lack confidence dealing with other adults. Does he have any interests? Could you pursue these together and while doing so encourage him to take the initiative to talk to others. Their could be some social anxiety. I think if you are confident he is just being lazy or reluctant to grow up and take responsibilty, then some ground rules are needed, e.g be in education or work, help around home, contribute to keep etc. If it is down to depression or anxiety, he will need your support, as you are giving him now, and encouragement. Hope things work out ok.
No advice, but I am in a very similar situation, it's incredibly stressful. Seems perfectly happy and content to loll around the house not doing much. Ground rules are set and broken constantly, sanctions don't work. At the end of my tether really.
Thanks for the advice. I am at a complete loss. He has anxiety and feels depressed although his therapist feels that it is a depression that his brain has manifested that gives him a reason to hide at home and avoid pressure to mature. She feels he is emotionally ‘stuck’. He has tried SSRI’s and they have no effect. I’m not surprised he is anxious and feels miserable as he has no life outside of our house and has lost touch with the few friends he had. He refuses to help around the house with even the smallest of things as he is ‘too depressed’ but he still manages to find the energy to play games on his computer. He will go out on his own to buy junk food, but that’s about it. How do you make someone like the idea of being a grown up?.
My son felt the same when he was a little younger than yours, around 15/16. Clung to me and admitted he didn’t want
to grow up, showed high levels of anxiety and was (and still is) addicted to Xbox and Junk food.
Sounds to me like your ds has low confidence and self esteem, and is by nature an anxious person. It’s so frustrating because in order to change things for himself, he needs to make some friends because it’s likely things will change from there.
In my ds’s case I managed to get him to go abroad on camp, he met a girl which was life changing and is still with her.
I'm a bit surprised that his therapist is telling you what's going on in the sessions - or is he?
I would start to get really, really busy. If he tells you stuff like this, go for a very neutral reaction; go out a lot; always invite him to come but go anyway if he doesn't. Tell him what you're doing whether he seems interested or not. Present him with a piece of unavoidable voluntary work - ideal things would be walking a dog for a frail neighbour or babysitting a child for an hour or two, something that requires him to get out of the house and will give him even the smallest piece of self-esteem.
I am a bit concerned about the way his therapist is seeing things. When you have depression or anxiety it can make it really hard to face situations or get motivation. Saying it is giving him a reason to avoid growing up sounds odd. It is like saying a woman with postnatal depression is using her diagnosis to avoid doing the things or attending groups/returning to work. He may not be be able to deal with the adult world due to his depression/anxiety. I agree with annandale. Boosting his self esteem, learning a new skill, being in the situation of having to help someone less able. E.g going to get shopping for elderly neighbour, feeding a neighbours pet when they are away. He needs to see you believe he can do things and you have confidence in him, plus he wiĺl get there in the end. Have you been in contact with Young Minds?
This could have been my ds 3 years ago. He dropped out of 6th form in the February of Y13 (despite getting good AS results). He had no interest in going to uni, we tried really hard to reassure him that we didn't expect him to go if he didn't want to but I think he still felt the pressure was there from college.
He disengaged from friends, was very depressed and also very unhappy and angry - with us, with himself, with life. He didn't really leave his room, I had to force him to eat and drink, he didn't look after himself. It was a horrible time. He did see his GP and get antidepressants, he was also referred for counselling but refused to attend the sessions. He wouldn't engage with us.
Finally, when the exams he should have sat were over, I gave him.an ultimatum about getting sone structure into his life by doing g some voluntary work. I wouldn't advocate this for all teens with depression, but we were getting a bit desperate. He refused to try to do voluntary work but agreed to get a paid job. I was really sceptical as he had never done any paid or and had failed to get to 6th form on time even when he was still attending. However, he went and got a (minimum wage) job, absolutely loved it. He made lots of friends, was never late for work (despite differing shift patterns) and became happy and settled. That was nearly 3 years ago and he truly is like a different person.
I think that when school was officially over, even though he hadn't attended for months, he was able to move on. He's now very sociable and stopped taking anti depressants about 2 years ago.
I hope things resolve themselves with your son. Please feel free to pm me if you want.
Thanks everyone, for your advice. I am trying to engage him in voluntary work and dog walking for an elderly relative, but he refuses to commit to a regular thing, helping out very sporadically at best as he says commitments make him worse. He needs friends to go out with, but won’t go out to make them! It’s beginning to feel like an unsolvable problem to be honest. I am going out and leaving him if he doesn’t want to come and he gets bored and lonely during the day, but not enough to make him make an effort to change things. I think being home and lonely is better to him than being out and busy. I hope that things might change when A levels are over. Thanks again for the replies.
His therapist sounds horrid. Do you think a pyscho-therapeutic approach is appropriate, maybe he would do better with CBT with some goal setting, even if it is 12 year old goal setting. After all 12 year olds often do things independently and enjoy life.
I personally think if you reduce the pressure on someone to do all the things their peers are doing and just focus on what works for them in the short term to build confidence, making bread, growing seeds, posting a letter, going out for a film, perhaps just perhaps they might be able to take the next step. Most people don't want to be depressed, it is perfectly horrible being depressed even if you think it is a form of attention seeking.
I agree though that some external goal might help, but it might have to start incredibly small and unstructured so he doesn't feel he has failed if he doesn't go one day, and can pick up at the pace he feels able to. What about just focussing on getting him out of the house first, go to shops perhaps for an hour and see how he copes with choices for example in the shops (there must be something you need, perhaps groceries?) Often this can kick start a feeling of independence, just choosing pasta or bread, and the walk will do him good.
Also please please please check his Vitamin D levels. Give him 1000iu a day if you cannot get him to a doctor (25mg in laymen's terms) anyone who hasn't been on a sunshine holiday or out of all summer in shorts is likely to be mildly deficient at this age, especially if you are sallow or olive, dark skinned and it can make the symptoms of lethargy and depression much worse. As can B12 deficiency and folate deficiency. My son aged 16/17 had bad deficiency last year at this time of year, it was picked up only through chance, and certainly not suggested by any HP.
Also check that there is nothing untoward happening on the net, or that he doesn't have an undiagnosed ASC, which can lead to social anxiety building up to an intolerable level, added to pressure of A levels can be final straw. The good news is that if you let someone develop at their own pace rather than reminding them how behind they, they will get there in the end.
Honestly, I'd lose the computer for a start. He needs to be pulling his weight around the house - you can be depressed and hoover/cook/do laundry/walk a dog, esp when you have someone to encourage and support you. You don't even have to be grown up to do them.
Take his computer away and cut off the Wifi. Its holding him back.
Oh and I wouldn't take the computer away in a "this is a punishment now snap out of it" sort of way, I'd be sympathetic to his urge to hide on line but explain that I felt it was something that was holding him back. After all , if he doesn't want to grow up then he needs to accept that you are still the parent. And if he has no ideas as to how to help himself then he needs to cooperate with things you think might help.
Nope. This sounds like someone I know and although ultimately the change has to come from them, you are going to need to be gentle but very firm. You're going to have to have a horrible, painful conversation that goes along the lines of "you're 18, not 12, and I know the world is a scary place but it's out there, waiting for you to join it and I'm not going to have my son sitting at home by the time he's 40, not having done anything except eat junk food and play video games - that was acceptable when you were 12, it's not now". And he will hate you, and you'll be upset but you know what OP, it's time for him to take some responsibility. What you may (will) have to do is physically take him to things to get him out of the house. It could be swimming, it could be helping someone out at the allotments, it could be for a paper round, it could be for a 3 hour shift at Tesco everyday. It could even be reading to children at a primary school. I think though that work is a great idea because it'll give him a purpose and some financial freedom. In the meantime, encourage him to sign on (I did that once, it was so depressing I got myself a job quick sharp) - he needs a heavy dose of reality. I know it's hard but don't give up.
I don’t think you are alone at all OP. More and more young people are dealing with diagnosed anxiety and depression. I’m not an expert so I’ll leave the experts to comment on the medical side. I do wonder though if the negative attitude and doom and gloom of parents about the state of the world, there are no jobs etc add to anxiety added to the pressure of social media for girls to always look perfect and boys to have super gym fit bodies etc. It must be easier to think, I liked being 12 , it was less stressful so I’ll pick a time I was happy and forget that my adult body needs to face some reality and join in with the real world.
Op i really sympathise, I am worried about my 15 yr old ds.
I am worried he spends all his time in his room , he is chained to the xbox, you tube..whatever.
I am gong to speak to him today about either getting rid of the tv in his room as I think this is what is the problem..the being in there all the time and missing out on life !
My ds goes out with friends when the weather is nice but I can see how easy it is for him to just stay at home looking at a screen and I want to prevent him being the exact same for years to come.
Not sure how this will work tbh...it's technically his tv , I could cut the wifi off but I really want him to be part of this change not be a punishment ...
Any suggestions ??
Sorry for barging in on thread.
Hi all, just bumping and showing solidarity on this thread, if you don't mind OP. Currently have an 18 year old who is an expert at 'lolling about'
doing fuck all. I'm totally sick of it, to the point where I'd rather be in work than have a day off .