What is Wrong With Kids Today?

I've written about the problems we have with the son.  We aren't sure what his problem is really because he won't talk.  From what we can figure out he has social anxiety and or depression.  We aren't really sure if it's serious enough or not to get him professional help.  Some days he seems normal and then there are days like today when I worry.

The son is in grade 12 this year.  The kids have to work at a paying job or volunteer a certain number of hours and then write an essay about it.  They have to complete this to graduate.  It is part of the graduation requirements, it isn't optional.  We have tried to help him get a job but he won't do anything.  We have explained that he won't graduate unless he does this but he ignores us.  His girlfriend volunteers at the hospital so we encouraged (hand held) him to volunteer there too.  He has been there twice being trained and was supposed to go again today.

I asked him several days ago when he was supposed to go and he gave evasive answers.  I finally got that it was either 1 or 2pm.  At this point I have to give a bit more background so I'm going to diverge away from this story for a bit.

The son is almost 18 years old.  We finally managed to strongly encourage him to get his learners license.  He needs to have this for at minimum 12 months and has to take a road test to get his new drivers permit.  He never wants to go driving to practice.   The husband as forced him to go driving a few times and we decided to let him come to us.  Of course the son hasn't asked.  So the next step was not to drive him anywhere.

On the son's 16th birthday he received two driving lessons.  He has to have his learners permit to use these so it took till he was 17 before we could get him to get it.  We arranged his lessons with the company and told the son when and where to meet for his driving lesson.  The son didn't bother to show up.  The husband called and apologized.  He told him the son was not ready to take lessons and was too nervous.  The son told us he wasn't driving with some stranger.  When I asked if the man came to our house and we all met then instead of at the high school would this work for him.  I got no answer.

We live in a small town with limited bus service.  To get around here you pretty much have to drive.  I'm not sure how he's going to get to a job or get  school after he graduates.  Anyway, last night the son asks for a ride to a friends house to stay overnight.  I told him I wasn't driving him but the husband drives him.  The husband picks him up around 11:30am today too.  The husband goes into the bedroom to play his guitar, his latest obsession.  At about 1:10pm I get a call from the son's girlfriend who is up at the hospital asking where the son is.  I ask the husband who says the son is up at the hospital.  The son is not at the hospital he is in his room.

A man is waiting for the son at the hospital to train him to do some volunteer work.  This is not at all how the husband or I behave.  We would never leave someone hanging like that.  We have to yell at the son and tell him to get his butt up to the hospital and make sure he apologizes for being late.  I didn't raise this kid.  I have no idea who this kid is.

The first day he was to volunteer at the hospital in the gift shop he stayed in his bedroom till 4pm.  He didn't come down to eat or to use the bathroom.  Fortunately for him at around 8am the woman who was training him had called and told the husband she couldn't make it that day and would reschedule for the following weekend.  The son was still in bed at 8am so the husband just took the message and we waited to see if the son would get ready himself to go.  He was supposed to be at the hospital at 11am.

I just want to make sure he graduates from high school.  He'll be an adult then and can fail at life if that's what he chooses but my job as a care taker will be done.  I love that kid to death but I have no idea what is in his head anymore.  He's a great kid but something has gone wrong and I have no idea where or what it is.  No, it's not drugs.  My husband and I know more about drugs than he does.  We know the signs and smells.  We have checked his things and room.  He never goes out except to school and occasionally to a friends house.  We know where he goes because we have to drive him and pick him up.

The husband and I are not helicopter parents.  We have never done everything for our kids and let them do things on their own when it makes sense.  We encourage them and trust them to make good decisions.  We've taught them how and been open and truthful about life.  We are being turned into helicopter parents though at a time when we should be stepping back we are having to step up and baby this kid just to get him through. 

I know some of you are saying, "let him fail, it won't be the end of the world."  I think sometimes failure can destroy a person too.  He has had failures, lots.  He had to write his learners test 3 times before he passed.  Of course we had to strong arm him into even writing any of them but he did seem disappointed that he failed and happy when he passed.  He's failed a couple of classes too.

The husband and I went to talk to a social worker about the son.  We really aren't sure if this kid needs help or what.  I talk to people and they say he's normal, all kids go through this.  The problem is he doesn't move on from this, he stays like a child and won't grow up.  We are his parents and want to help him through whatever this is if we can.  We know that problems in one person in a family can be part of family dynamics too.  We know that we may be part of the problem and have to change.  We'd willingly change and do what we have to to help him and us. 

The Social Worker thought he sounded pretty normal but there were a few things that she thought weren't and we should have a Psychiatrist check him.  Unfortunately we have to get a Dr's referral to even see a Psychiatrist.  That means we have to some how get an noncompliant 6 foot 2 inch kid to agree to see a Dr.  Like that is going to happen.  And even if we could get him a referral to a Psych he wouldn't talk just like he won't talk when we try to ask him questions or talk to him.  He just sits there and won't say anything. 

The Social Worker asked what would be the worst thing if we let him fail.  I said the worst thing would be he stays in his bedroom and never goes to school or get a job, that he never becomes a healthy happy regular person getting on with their life.  Then she asked what would happen if we didn't give him rides.  We have done that in the past and all that happens is the son stays in his room and isolates himself even more.  If we take his computer or video games away he still stays in his room listening to music or staring at the wall or something.  The results are the same, he stays in his bedroom doing nothing constructive.

This all has a history too.  A family history.  The husband has had mental illness when he was a teen.  He dropped out of school in grade 10 because of it.  The husband was hospitalized several times and was on medication for years to stabilize him.  It ended up being alcohol.  Not everyone has to drink tons to get negative reactions to alcohol. 

As a teen he only drank on weekends which was pretty normal.  I could write a book about the husband and his messed up life but instead lets just say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  What I'm really worried about is if the son has social anxiety and finds out drinking booze helps him get over it.  He'll end up like his dad, self medicating his problems away instead of actually dealing with them.

We have never told the kids their dad's full story.  The most they know is dad doesn't drink.  I rarely drink too but at my family events people are drinking normally and behaving normally so they see it's possible to drink responsibly.  I'm thinking that tonight may be the time to sit the son down and tell the husband's story.  At this point I'm ready to try anything.

Goodness this post got way too long!  Sorry but I just have to have somewhere I can get this out.  It always helps to write things out.  If anyone has any advise or experience dealing with social anxiety or teens with social anxiety I'd be happy to hear it.  If you would like to email me privately that's good too.  piperlynne2000@yahoo.com


Wish I had some good advice for you but I have never dealt with a "failure to launch" situation. How does one motivate the unmotivated? I'd be inclined to seek expert advice.
Mama Pea said…
I'm agreeing with Debra, Sparkless. I know it wouldn't be easy in any way, but I would suggest counseling for your family as a whole . . . the four of you initially counseling as a family and then, on the recommendation of a professional, possibly individual counseling.

I feel like you can work through this because you are very caring parents. I think kids can overcome a lot if they know the two most important people in their lives are behind them with support and love.
Sparkless said…
If we could get the son to go to the Dr. we may be able to get a referral to a Psychiatrist for him. We can't afford to pay for counseling but if we can get it through our medical then we don't have to pay. In other words there has to be some danger to someone's life before you get in or you have to pay for it yourself. And there in lies our problem. I'd totally consider family therapy and we are looking into ways we can do it but without the son refusing it's going to be difficult.
Sparkless said…
Sorry that should say "with the son refusing to go" not "without the son refusing."
And please excuse all the typos. I just can't seem to post anything without mistakes in it anymore, even when I check them!

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