DSS1 "hates being by himself" but doesn't spend any time with friends

(43 Posts)
allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 10:59:18

Not really a step issue, but thought I'd post here as if I post anywhere else it will just be assumed it is my fault and in any case I'm an evil old witch for commenting

Some of you will be very familiar with my situation. For those of you who aren't I'll give a short summary. DSS1 is 17, also have a DSS2 who is 14. DSS1 (and DSS2 actually) doesn't ever spend any time socialising with friends. He doesn't ever actually mention any friends, so we're really not sure whether he has any or not, although when DS asked he says he does, in school, but that he just doesn't want to see them outside of school.

He finds it literally impossible to entertain himself. So if there is a spare moment during your typical weekend down time for example (in between all the normal outings, visiting family, eating etc etc), he literally does not know what to do with himself and asks "what are we doing next dad". DH has tried for a long time to encourage him to think about what he would like to do himself. Also suggesting and finding various activities for him to do. But clearly getting ridiculous at this age. At his mother's house, this problem doesn't really exist because his mother is of a very controlling nature and literally he does everything with her - trips to Tesco, every last thing. So he simply never has any "down time" at home to deal with.

So yesterday, we had friends round and the subject came up of whether we like our own company. And DSS1 pipes up that he hates his own company and being by himself.

This is somewhat of a dilemma for someone who doesn't want to spend any time with his friends. So either he's with a parent 24/7 or he's seemingly miserable confused

Jan45 Tue 23-Apr-13 15:00:43

Yip, I was a bit the same with my mum, she was happy to have me under her feet 247. He'll realise one day that there's a big world outside that door and he will want to explore it, he's maybe still at that awkward stage physically too and has yet to `grow` into his face ifykwim, once he gains even just a little bit of confidence, there will be no stopping him and he might even end up resenting mum for trying to stop him. I know 2 years or so seems a long time but it's not really. I hope I'm right too!!! blush

allnewtaketwo Tue 23-Apr-13 11:09:06

It would be great if that were true Jan45.

One big obstacle though is that his mother has actively encouraged him all his life to be like this, and still does. She has an enormous influence over his life and in order for him to "break free", it would require him not only to have the desire to do so, but also to overcome the huge control she has over him iyswim. She doesn't want him to break free, and his main goal in life is to please her. She's a classic narcissist and he is the "golden child".

I hope you're right though!

Jan45 Tue 23-Apr-13 10:46:12

He will grow out of this, I was a bit like that and it was down to a bit of hanging onto my mother's tails but also lacking in self confidence and just not feeling good enough, I very rarely left the house and spent holidays watching old movies, I certainly didn't need a psychological assessment and in due course became the complete opposite with lots of friends and going out all the time - I did this myself, through no help from nobody, I got so fed up being on my own I decided enough was enough, he'll get there too, but only in his own time, not when you would like him to, it's frustrating I'm sure but honestly just wait and see what happens in the next couple of years, he could change completely.

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 19:04:17

That's ok redhen, I thought that was what you meant!

Yes Petal, upon hearing about the driving lessons, thvfirst thing i said to DH was "where is he going to drive to?". He doesn't go anywhere confused

Petal02 Mon 22-Apr-13 18:09:13

Even if Allnew's DSS did driving lessons, I'm not sure if would help. DSS18 now has a car and a licence, but the only place he wants to drive to is our house, to hang out with his Dad and adhere to the access rota. We've told him he doesn't need to stick to fixed visiting times any more, but that's what he wants to do.

theredhen Mon 22-Apr-13 17:51:53

All new, when I said its not your problem, I only meant that if his parents are both allowing this behaviour (which in my opinion is very unhealthy) then there's probably not much you can do. Just try and limit the impact it has in you. It must be incredibly frustrating and annoying!

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 17:28:38

Mostly I think it's the disastrous consequence of a narcissistic controlling parent, who is the Pwc (and therefore no dilution by another resident parent), plus a submissive personality. He is exactly what she wanted him to be, which is 100% reliant on her.

He's never had an assessment (although his younger sister) not DH's, has been previously referred to a psychiatrist.

exexpat Mon 22-Apr-13 17:21:04

I am pretty sure you can be somewhere on the spectrum without ticking every single box on the diagnostic checklist. Has he ever had any kind of assessment? Or maybe it's possible to develop that kind of personality and behaviour in response to having a controlling parent.

PeterParkerSays Mon 22-Apr-13 17:11:15

Christ, what grades is he on course to get if he has no time for driving lessons or a part time job? grin

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 17:07:08

posted too soon.
I had read up on AS and he certainly displays several traits. A couple don't ring true though. One of them for example having a very strong interest in a very specific topic. He's never actually interested in anything, so that certainly doesn't apply. Clearly I'm no expert though.

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 17:05:41

xposted exexpat

Funnilly enough, FIL bought him a course of driving lessons recently. I asked DSS yesterday if he'd been on any lessons yet. He said he's leaving it for now as he's too busy.

I do get what you're saying about psychological help, I have thought about it myself. I have also wondered about AS.

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 17:02:34

When he was younger and came out with the usual "what are we doing next", I went through a phase of saying "well if you're bored you can mop the floor/do the dusting/etc etc etc., and I actually followed through with making him do it.

So I guess that was the same in a way

exexpat Mon 22-Apr-13 17:01:18

You can't invite a 17-year-old's friends round on his behalf shock . If he actually has any genuine friends, and they haven't already noticed that he's a bit immature, that would be absolute social death for him.

Do you live somewhere where you could start sending him out on errands, eg you realise you have 'forgotten' some crucial ingredients for a meal, and send him to the shops with a list? Does he do any household chores which would involve him being on his own for more than 10 minutes, eg mowing the lawn, changing beds? Not as punishments, just things that nearly-adults should be doing to help, and which he should have been doing for four or five years already... Is he learning to drive?

But in your position, I would be starting to wonder about getting psychological help for him, as his behaviour and dependency is clearly not normal.

NotaDisneyMum Mon 22-Apr-13 16:59:26

Disneymum but that's a punishment. THe DSS hasn't done anything wrong in this case, he's just completely lacking backbone, self motivation and self reliance.

I don't think it would do a 17 year old any harm to discover that the natural adult consequence of "lacking backbone, self-motivation and self-reliance" is that he will be taken advantage of, put upon and his good nature will be abused.

There is no suggestion that he can't occupy himself - for instance, the OP says that he is capable of cooking alone but chooses not to - he is choosing this way of life because it's easier/more comfortable/familiar to do things with an adult alongside.

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 16:54:05

Actually funnilly enough we did have a pile of bricks at the side of the house that I was mithering DH to move - unfortunately he did it eventually!

PeterParker - we don't know who they are. He doesn't mention any friends

PeterParkerSays Mon 22-Apr-13 16:47:56

Disneymum but that's a punishment. THe DSS hasn't done anything wrong in this case, he's just completely lacking backbone, self motivation and self reliance.

Could you invite any school friends around, whether he wants them to come or not?

NotaDisneyMum Mon 22-Apr-13 16:41:45

DH actually said to him at that point that he wouldn't let him sit around doing nothing, and if he didn't find something to do then DH would find him jobs to do in the garden. But I suspect DSS would love that solution because then he would still be with parent.

I've read about some fabulous military-style "jobs" given to teenagers on american parenting forums smile

One family I remember had a 1 tonne pile of gravel in their yard (garden) and it's sole purpose was so that the parents could set the teens the task of moving it from one location to another as a consequence for transgressions such as staying out after curfew, disrespect etc. the gravel pile had migrated around their yard over the course of several years while their teen-boys grew up into adulthood!

Could you order a pallet-full of house-bricks to be delivered that will need moving, by hand, from the front to the back of the house, for instance? If your DSS1 is unable to occupy himself, then it's an ideal task! Once your DP gets DSS1 going, he can leave DSS to it make a swift exit to the local pub, relax in the bath, read the sunday papers

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 16:28:02

grin - good idea!

Do you know the awful thing - I saw this coming. Years and years ago, DH and his family were all saying, "he'll grow out of it", "he'll be fine when he's 16 and can come and go as he pleases". Others said "he'll rebel, just wait and see".

I'm not happy to say "I told you so", but I did.

PeterParkerSays Mon 22-Apr-13 16:24:03

Here you are, sorted! He you his dad can apply to join the tall ships race. Do you think he'd prefer Scandinavia or Eastern Europe? grin

Sorry, must try to be more sensible.....

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 16:21:24

PeterParker I do definitely agree on the need for him to think about how he's going to cope with university given that this will require (hopefully!) more time away from parents and the need to spend more time on his own/with friends.

It's difficult to describe, but he simply sees going to university, getting in and succeeding at it, as an academic exercise. Although yesterday he said he was looking forward to university because of the clubs. I nearly fell off my chair, because I simply can't see him joining a club if his mother isn't in it. He hasn't joined any at school for example, so I'm not sure why he thinks there is going to be some miraculous change just because he's at university confused. He would actually have to take the initiative of joining a club, whereas previously, his mother has arranged everything for him. But she can't join university clubs on his behalf

PeterParkerSays Mon 22-Apr-13 16:20:18

Sorry, but do you have a flat head where you're banging it against the wall? grin

How about going out as a family to do something like geocaching, where the boys have to be responsible for finding the location, or going out cycling and they have to plan the route? I think I'd try to get him to do more with his brother / your DS instead of his parents. Could the lads all camp out in the garden together with the better weather coming?

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 16:13:09

He refuses to look for a part time job as he is "too busy" hmm with schoolwork. Although in any case there is no way his mother would let him (he helps her out a lot with the younger ones).

DH actually had the "serious conversation" with him a month or so ago. Said that he needed to start to take initiative and ownership over his life, get out more. Talked about suitable activities/clubs. He said DSS was very reluctant to be drawn into the conversation and kept saying "I'm fine". DH actually said to him at that point that he wouldn't let him sit around doing nothing, and if he didn't find something to do then DH would find him jobs to do in the garden. But I suspect DSS would love that solution because then he would still be with parent.

TBH if it wasn't for DSS2 then DH would have the avenue of just leaving DSS1 in the house more.

At one point he did say he was going to do DoE but then that came to nothing.

Jan45 Mon 22-Apr-13 16:08:18

Good, let him sit and be bored, okay at mum's he follows her about like a lapdog, fine, at yours, he has to behave like a 17 year old, that's the difference, don't give in, he will get bored and get the message, eventually!

allnewtaketwo Mon 22-Apr-13 15:59:55

It's funny you say that Jan45, because DH said a few months ago that he was actually actively trying to let DSS1 get bored to try to initiative him doing something for himself. It didn't work sadly. DSS1 just sat on the sofa looking around him like he was lost (while meanwhile DSS2 and DS were individually happilly entertaining themselves confused)

PeterParkerSays Mon 22-Apr-13 15:54:39

In that case, I think your DH needs to sit down with DSS and use yesterday's conversation as a starting point for a discussion: "You said yesterday that you hate being by yourself and in your own company, what is it that you dislike", "what could make you think differently" etc.

If DH states that he's concerned that your DSS will struggle at unversity if he can't find something positive in his own company, and build friendships with his peers, DSS may start to realise why this is an issue.

You mentioned that your DSS has done clubs which have fizzled out, but has he ever done stuff where you have to go away from home - Duke of Edinburgh award, venture scouts etc?

Does he have a part time job, or could he do some voluntary work, so he has experience when he gets to university and wants to find a part time job?

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