Reply To: Concern for my 14 year old son and his isolation

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This post describes my almost 16-year-old son precisely. He is an only child and has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and inattentive ADHD. He is medicated and went to counseling until he learned to respond like he knew was expected. It just became a waste of everyone’s time for him to be a yes man. He has no friends that he sees outside of school. He vetos my attempts at inviting friends to do things like go to the movies, drive go-karts, attend baseball games, etc. He has a few friends that he plays online games with that are local. I can’t decide if he doesn’t want to invite these guys out of a fear of rejection or simple lack of desire. He is an excellent student with mostly A’s and a few B’s. He does the absolute bare minimum at the last minute but somehow pulls it off. We are trying to encourage him to get a summer job, but most things I find are only hiring at 16 due to work permits and hour restrictions. He is not interested in searching for a job or learning to drive with his learner’s permit. Again, is this out of fear of the unknown expectations or responsibility? I don’t feel like he is lazy because he will help willingly around the house, with his grandparents and other family members. I have cut off the financial support for his many “wants” in hopes of encouraging his desire for a job, without success.

He had “friends” at school last year that repeatedly did rotten things like steal his lunch or squish it when he isn’t looking. I have suggested they probably aren’t his friends and that he may want to find somewhere else to sit. He refused to speak up for himself, find a new seat or change the situation. I wanted to intervene on his behalf but didn’t because I know this would make it worse, not better and that he will encounter challenging people in life. It breaks my heart for him to spend so much time in isolation with video games and YouTube. He doesn’t seem to mind that he is not experiencing life. He will laugh and carry on with his gaming friends, but I feel like there is a lot to be gained by interacting with people in real life. He is in an engineering program at his school that requires volunteer hours. He will drag his feet until the last moment and do them begrudgingly. He is always hesitant and dreads doing these things but always comes home in a good mood and chatty about the experience.

How much do I push my little birdie out of the nest and insist on him being involved in his own life and how much do I respect his comfort bubble?? My husband has suffered from social anxiety his whole life that his parents ignored. There are many things in regular everyday life that still affect him. My husband is pushing for our son to interact with people, get a part time job and act like a typical teenager. I tend to fall in the middle because I see it from both sides. My son doesn’t seem unhappy, but I fear he isn’t learning how real life operates. Having friends, even one or two seems like it would be so beneficial. I don’t believe we were meant to do life alone. Seeing my husband struggle in social situations and work relationships as an adult makes me want to help my son work this out now, so he doesn’t face the same challenges. I’ll be following along for suggestions.