15 y/o wants to give up swimming! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 41 Old 02-04-2011, 07:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We have 5 children and 4 of them are on a swim team. My 15 y/o has been on a team swimming since 1st grade. He is not a wonder swimmer, but he is doing very well. He wants to give it up. He says that he does not want to do ANY sports. Now we are reasonable people. If perhaps he had a passion for something else then we would say fine, pursue your dream. Our DS only has a passion for watching T.V, (We have not game sets at our house, sp that is not a problem. ) and socializing with other kids. This is his favorite thing to do - GO out with friends!

 

Ds does not get awesome grades, they are B's and C's. He is not a scholar, nor do we ever expect him to be. He is GOOD at swimming. It gets him out of the house 5 nights a week. There are meets on some weekends, which is good, because then he is not hanging with friends all the time.

 

He says other kids don't do a sport, but in the small town we live in, there are not many sports TO do. Also the kids here are very poor and their parent just can't afford a sport.

 

What is he going to do if he does not have swim? As it is come March it is over. Then we will be faced with the difficult question every weekend, "Can I go over to ______'s house?"

 

We have to admit that we also want him to continue, because WE have spent so much money and time for the sport. But I think most of all we just worry that DS will have nothing after it is gone. Our DS does not have all the wires connected in his head and if he give it up, he may in 5 years say, "Why did you let me?"

 

Anyone have advice? BTW if he gives it up he won't change his mind in a year and come back to it.

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#2 of 41 Old 02-04-2011, 07:55 PM
 
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Fundamentally, I think a fifteen year-old is plenty old enough to decide whether he wants to be involved in a sport or not.  I might insist that a kid that age remain involved in *some* extracurricular activity, but I think it's fine for him to pick which ones, and switch every year or every semester.

 

You describe really *intense* involvement in this sport.  Five times a week and meets on weekends is a huge chunk of time.  Maybe he wants more variety.  Maybe he would enjoy swimming more if he didn't do it so often.  It's possible that your son has identified that swimming is taking more of his energy than he wants, and that with the free time, he might feel less stressed, catch up on sleep, put more energy into his schoolwork, pick up some other hobby, or, yes, spend more time with his friends.  (You seem to have a really big objection to that - why shouldn't he hang out with friends?) 

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#3 of 41 Old 02-05-2011, 07:49 AM
 
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I think if he's part of a team, he should stick it out for the season - it's only a few more weeks. After that, if he wants to drop it, he should be allowed to.
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#4 of 41 Old 02-05-2011, 08:02 AM
 
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Certainly he should finish out the team commitment but after that, if he wants to drop, let it go. You don't know that he'll never come back to it. Even if he doesn't, it's not really something he could make a career at given you said he was good but not a wonder swimmer. He may find something else that he really loves. Maybe his grades will improve without the nightly time commitment elsewhere. Maybe he'll just hang out at home.

 

What's wrong with being with friends? He's 15 and it's normal for them to want that. Do you not like his friends? I can understand not wanting him out with friends 5 nights a week but surely it's not a problem on weekends and non school days. 

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#5 of 41 Old 02-05-2011, 08:08 AM
 
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I agree with Meepy Cat.  Would you feel better if you sat down together and made a plan for life after swimming?  Like he would try A,B & C, go out with friends on Fri and Sat only, more time would be spent on grades.....

 

My ds is 14 and also plays a couple highly competitive sports that take up a lot of his/our time.If he were to give them up, I would be upset because it would seriously impact my  social life and world view.  After spending almost 8 years with most of the other families our social network would be gone.

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#6 of 41 Old 02-05-2011, 08:30 AM
 
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Originally Posted by robin4kids View Post

There are meets on some weekends, which is good, because then he is not hanging with friends all the time.

 

He says other kids don't do a sport, but in the small town we live in, there are not many sports TO do.


My kids have swam competitively in past and part of what you are saying doesn't make sense to me,

 

Aren't there other kids on the team? Doesn't he have any friends on team? What about friends on other teams that he runs into at meets? Since meets are pretty much the same teams over and over, I'm not getting how a kid who has swam for 10 years has NO friends through swimming.

 

I think there's more to the story that you are saying. Are there social problems on the team? Have some of his old friends from swimming already quit? Did he like on girl on team and get shot down? What's really going on?

 

Second, what is wrong with him spending time with friends? That's a perfectly reasonable thing to do. I think that *part* of the problem is that you are trying to control him by keeping him busy and tired, and that he will rebel against that.

 

Last, unless he is part of a relay, it's an individual sport, and there's no reason to stay in once the current (paid for) month is over. Swimming is never really over, it just morphs from short course to long course, and it's not a team sport the way that other sports are team sports. 

 

If it was my child, I would talk to him and get to the bottom of what was really going on (because what you said doesn't make sense to me) but I wouldn't make a child of ANY age be on swim team if they didn't want to. I've watched parents do that, I don't think it's the best thing to do.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#7 of 41 Old 02-05-2011, 10:52 AM
 
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Look at it from a kid's perspective:

 

He's in school 7:30-2:30 (or something of the sort), and then on top of that he has to do homework, AND five nights a week he is committed to swimming, AND he gets no break on the weekend because of the meets? Sounds like he dedicates 8-10 hours a day to pre-determined scheduled things, and he doesn't even get a full weekend to regroup. To be honest, it sounds too much. Everyone deserves to have a little bit of time to unwind, even a 15 year old, yk?

 

Now, I love love love horseback riding, but even I wouldn't want to continue it if it meant five days a week and a weekend on top of regular day job. It sounds absolutely draining. Two nights a week towards scheduled activities sounds like plenty to me. I would ask him to join an afterschool club to cover one or two nights a week, and leave it at that. 


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#8 of 41 Old 02-05-2011, 12:39 PM
 
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I don't think he should have to be on swim team if he's not into it anymore. I also don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to socialize and spend time with friends. If he's going to school all week, swimming 5 nights a week and some weekends, and still trying to hang out with friends, I'm not sure how much down time he really has to even think about other interests. I don't think sports are necessary and I don't think structured extracurricular activities are necessary. I do think down time and self exploration are necessary though.

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#9 of 41 Old 02-05-2011, 01:29 PM
 
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5 days a week AND weekends? No wonder he wants to drop it. I'd let him. Everyone needs downtime.

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#10 of 41 Old 02-05-2011, 01:34 PM
 
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5 days a week AND weekends? No wonder he wants to drop it. I'd let him. Everyone needs downtime.



Agree!  You'd want to be obsessed with a sport to enjoy that level of commitment. Totally normal that he's done, IMO.


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#11 of 41 Old 02-05-2011, 01:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by robin4kids View Post
, (We have not game sets at our house, sp that is not a problem. ) and socializing with other kids. This is his favorite thing to do - GO out with friends!

 

 


Wanted to add that I think this is a reasonable want at any age. innocent.gif


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#12 of 41 Old 02-05-2011, 04:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by choli View Post

5 days a week AND weekends? No wonder he wants to drop it. I'd let him. Everyone needs downtime.


 

When we were in swimming, the meets were usually once a month. All the kids on the team were friends. Older kids brought their home work and did it together while they younger kid events where happening. Families would go out for pizza together for dinner, or if some of the kids have blocks of time with no events (and their home work was done) one of the parents would take them to play minature golf or something. It was a blast. But it was VERY social -- whole family social.

 

Five nights a week was the max (usually 2 hour practices) but many kids opted to just come 2 or 3 nights a week. Homework came first and kids often took breaks for other activities -- such as dropping for a couple of months to be in the school play or play on a baseball team or something. 

 

In many swim families, down time is considered over-rated. In some families with a broad age range in kids, ALL the kids are in swimming, so they are all practicing and competing at about the same time.

 

I think swimming is a GREAT sport, and we were a family that practiced 10 hours a week and traveled for meets once a month -- while we were homeschooling. After my kids started school, they decided to drop. We meet some really wonderful families through swimming, and a few crazy ones. dizzy.gif


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#13 of 41 Old 02-05-2011, 06:35 PM
 
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I'm not understanding why wanting to spend time with friends is apparently such a terrible thing for your son to want. It's really quite normal at his age.

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#14 of 41 Old 02-05-2011, 08:17 PM
 
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I was going to suggest finishing this season and then coming up with a plan.

 

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#15 of 41 Old 02-06-2011, 09:44 AM
 
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In many swim families, down time is considered over-rated.

Not by the OP's son, apparently. Though his mother seems to think it's over-rated. 

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#16 of 41 Old 02-06-2011, 10:09 AM
 
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I don't want to sound harsh, but your son is not 5, he is 15 - and he needs to be able to start to break away from the family and what you want from time to time.  I am curious why you don't want him going out with his friends.  Do you not like them?  Do you not know them?  Friends are very important to kids in their teen years, and having no time to spend with them is bound to build resentment.

 

When the season is over, I would give him a breather and then ask him what he really wants.  It's possible that after such a huge time commitment that he just wants to do nothing for a while!  Maybe there are clubs or sports at school that he would like to try that he doesn't have time for now.  He needs to have some say in his own life.

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#17 of 41 Old 02-06-2011, 10:40 AM
 
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When will he be 16? Tell him he can use his extra time to find a job. It sounds like he is "done" with all this. Your attempts to control him here are going to be ugly for all of you. It is natural for teens to want to break away from family as they figure out who they are.

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#18 of 41 Old 02-06-2011, 03:09 PM
 
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I would NOT wait until the end of the season. This isn't a true team sport, and it goes on far longer than any other sport I know of.  No child should be forced to practice a sport he doesn't want to be in for 10 hours a week.

 

If he is on a relay team with qualifying times, then he needs to stick out until whatever the big meet is -- JOs or whatever. Even if that is the case, he should be allowed to cut back his practices to just enough to maintain his current time in that event (2 or 3 times a week). 

 

If that isn't the case, then there is no reason for him to continue.

 

There are so many things that are worth taking on stand on with our teens. Swim team just ain't one of them.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#19 of 41 Old 02-07-2011, 07:38 PM
 
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the season is over in March.  if it was my kid they'd be finishing the season & then if they wanted to quit when it was time to sign up again they could.

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#20 of 41 Old 02-08-2011, 07:10 AM
 
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I would let him quit if he wants to.  For the most part it is an individual sport, so I would probably let him quit right now if need be.

 

I would also suggest some alternatives:

Is there a swim team that is less competitive that he might like to join?  His scheduel is intense - maybe he does not want to quit so much as slow down?

Would he like to morph into something else?  He is close to lifegaurding age - his interest could lead to a future job.

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#21 of 41 Old 02-09-2011, 05:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well first off, anyone who has been in swimming knows that as boys get older, their are FEWER of them swimming. He makes friends easy and likes even the girls on the team but has never developed a lasting relationship.

 

Second, the meets are not every weekend.

 

Third, my son would NOT spend more time getting better grades. He would drag his feet around the house doing nothing. On at least 3 weekends this swim season he spent the whole weekend watching T.V because the other kids he was friends with had other things they had to do. So he just sulked.

 

He is not a motivated child. He never has been. If he has no one to "play" with then he just has no idea what to do with him self. Summer is the worst. We are making him get a part-time job this summer, just so he is out of the house and doing something.

 

Also friends are overrated. Friends are great, if you  know the friend's parents and have similar beliefs. If however you have only met the parents when dropping off your child at the house, then you have NO idea what may be allowed while your child is there. My ds is VERY easily influenced. If he wants to be in a certain crowd of kids he will do whatever it takes. As a mom it is still my responsibility to monitor this. Keeping him busy keeps him out of trouble.

 

There is research that shows that children that are involved in an organized sport or after school activity, get into less trouble. My ds can't do any other sports.  What will he do with his time? Just the other day I allowed him to miss practice to go to a basketball game. WHY? So he can hang with friends. He admitted it was kind of boring and he felt trapped. If they left the school they were not allowed back in. So what will my ds write on his college transcript? I watched my friends play their sports?

I think college should be the time when kids can decide what they want to do with all that free time.

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#22 of 41 Old 02-09-2011, 06:31 AM
 
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I think college should be the time when kids can decide what they want to do with all that free time.


 

 

I cannot remember what the drop out rate was my first year of college - but it was high.  

 

Numerous kids who were used to being micromanaged suddenly had a lot of freedom and many of them could not deal effectively with it.

 

The stakes are higher in college than in high school.  Messing up in high school is free, messing up in college means you loose money (tuition.)  Depending on the program, messing up in college is academically more problematic.

 

In general I think teens should slowly be given more decision making power as they age, so that when they turn 18 they have some experience with decision making and living with the consequences in the somewhat safe environment of the family.

 

I also hear you that he mopes and sulks when his friends are not available - but the only way he is going to come to terms with boredom and having to self entertain in a healthy way is to experience it.   He may even decide that keeping busy with things such as swim team are the way to go - but he will not come to this conclusion if it is a power struggle between the two of you.  

 

 

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#23 of 41 Old 02-09-2011, 06:36 AM
 
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Also friends are overrated. ...

I think college should be the time when kids can decide what they want to do with all that free time.


I really disagree with you on both points. I think that the teen years are best spent developing independence with the guidance of parents.  I do not think it serves teens well to be told how to spend all their time and energy, and then to suddenly be out of the house. I doesn't allow them to gradually learn to use their time in ways that make them happy.

 

I think that the amount of control you are putting over your son now is setting him up for VERY self destructive behavior in a few years.

 

Friends are important to most people. Without giving your son some time and freedom to work on developing friendships, you are leading him right to the party path. Because your core belief is that if he has friends, it will be destructive, it's like you are just bringing that to him. You are teaching him that.

 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#24 of 41 Old 02-09-2011, 06:41 AM
 
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How long has he wanted to quit? I was in band. We practiced 4 days a week plus travel to games or symphonic performances from August through May every year (yeah, more practice time than any sports in our school). There were times I got overwhelmed and wanted to quit, but those times didn't last. If this is a recent thing, then maybe he just needs a break. (And it sounds like he'll be getting one soon.) If it's been going on a while, then that's another story, and I'd probably let him quit.

 


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#25 of 41 Old 02-09-2011, 08:03 AM
 
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It's not enough to just have activities on your college applications. They want to see activities that are TAKING you someplace you want to go. Many of DD's older friends are at top notch universities. What set them apart wasn't years of busy work that they didn't even bother to mention in their essays... it was the clear passion they could express about what they wanted to do and how they've been working towards it. Your DS doesn't have a passion for swimming. Why is he spending so much time doing it? There has got to be something else outside of sports for him to look into. I'm perfectly fine with you requiring he try some clubs or non-sports activities. By all means limit the TV and video gaming. I even get that you don't want him with his friends every single free moment. I just don't think forcing him to swim 5 days a week is the answer. In fact, it makes it MORE likely that when he IS free, he'll do nothing.

 

I have to agree that it's a bad move to wait until college to give teens choice and control over their time. I'm not saying you should cut your child totally loose right now only that kids who are used to being managed do no fair well when away from home. DD (newly 14) and I are really in transition right now. She's passionate about theatre and has been from the age of 8. She devotes 10 to 20 hours a week at it. She just can't get enough and she explores every avenue (on stage, backstage, directing, administration, ect.) Often we've had to put on the brakes for our OWN sanity. I used to handle all her audition appointments, her meetings, events and the rest of her crazy schedule. That made sense when she was 8 but now that she's a teenager, it's time for her to start taking that over. Yes, she's missed some things and paid the consequences but I'd much rather her learn time management now when the stakes are low and she has a safety net than when she's 500 miles away. It's really HARD for me not to step in. I'm not always successful. I catch myself giving reminders and checking up on her but I'm really working on it. It's a transition for us both lol.

 

I

 

 

 

 

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Well first off, anyone who has been in swimming knows that as boys get older, their are FEWER of them swimming. He makes friends easy and likes even the girls on the team but has never developed a lasting relationship.

 

Second, the meets are not every weekend.

 

Third, my son would NOT spend more time getting better grades. He would drag his feet around the house doing nothing. On at least 3 weekends this swim season he spent the whole weekend watching T.V because the other kids he was friends with had other things they had to do. So he just sulked.

 

He is not a motivated child. He never has been. If he has no one to "play" with then he just has no idea what to do with him self. Summer is the worst. We are making him get a part-time job this summer, just so he is out of the house and doing something.

 

Also friends are overrated. Friends are great, if you  know the friend's parents and have similar beliefs. If however you have only met the parents when dropping off your child at the house, then you have NO idea what may be allowed while your child is there. My ds is VERY easily influenced. If he wants to be in a certain crowd of kids he will do whatever it takes. As a mom it is still my responsibility to monitor this. Keeping him busy keeps him out of trouble.

 

There is research that shows that children that are involved in an organized sport or after school activity, get into less trouble. My ds can't do any other sports.  What will he do with his time? Just the other day I allowed him to miss practice to go to a basketball game. WHY? So he can hang with friends. He admitted it was kind of boring and he felt trapped. If they left the school they were not allowed back in. So what will my ds write on his college transcript? I watched my friends play their sports?

I think college should be the time when kids can decide what they want to do with all that free time.



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#26 of 41 Old 02-09-2011, 08:31 AM
 
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 There has got to be something else outside of sports for him to look into. I'm perfectly fine with you requiring he try some clubs or non-sports activities. By all means limit the TV and video gaming.


 


I agree with this. For the record, I'm requiring both my kids do volunteer work this summer. We are researching options and they are applying for cool things right now. My 14 year old is applying for a Jr. lifeguard spot through a city's park and rec department. You have to be 16 to be a lifeguard, but they let kids a little younger than that with solid swim skills volunteer, help with lessons, etc. It will keep her busy, get her around other people (and away from TV and computer games) and teach her some responsibility. She thinks it sounds like fun. My other DD is applying for a spot at the zoo.

 

At our house, I set some boundaries like "you have to do volunteer work" but I'm very flexible about what they do. I help them research and push them in directions they think sound interesting.

 

And do I think this experience will look good on either a job application or a college application! But the real reason I'm doing it is because they will drive me bonkers if they are home all day every day. hide.gif

 

Swimming is, IMHO, the very best sport for kids. None the less, when my kids were done with it, I let them quit.


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#27 of 41 Old 02-09-2011, 11:23 AM
 
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Well first off, anyone who has been in swimming knows that as boys get older, their are FEWER of them swimming. He makes friends easy and likes even the girls on the team but has never developed a lasting relationship.

 

That sounds like a valid explanation for his diminishing interest in swimming. I personally see nothing wrong with that. He has fewer connections on the team, he is not that into swimming any longer, so that's reasonable to look for something else.

 

Second, the meets are not every weekend.

 

I still think that his weekdays are way too structured and are overwhelming. School IS work. Homework IS work. Adding anything else on top of it that feels like work - you are talking about 10 hour workdays. Even adults are not required to work that many hours daily.

 

Third, my son would NOT spend more time getting better grades. He would drag his feet around the house doing nothing. On at least 3 weekends this swim season he spent the whole weekend watching T.V because the other kids he was friends with had other things they had to do. So he just sulked.

 

I don' t think it has much to do with grades. I think it's more about discovering oneself and learning the skills to manage your own free time. I agree with others - limiting TV sounds to me like a more reasonable answer than forcing someone to do a sport they are not interested in.  At 18 is a little bit too late to be learning how to manage your free time without a parent. One would hope that by 18 you have those skills, which is impossible to develop if you are exhausted during the week, and micromanaged on the weekends, you know?

 

He is not a motivated child. He never has been. If he has no one to "play" with then he just has no idea what to do with him self. Summer is the worst. We are making him get a part-time job this summer, just so he is out of the house and doing something.

 

I know another one that;s not motivated. redface.gif DSD never really been a big fan of extracurriculars. She tried things here and there, but nothing that she really connected with. She has, however, developed interests on her own that she has kept up with, i.e. photography, fashion, baking. It took her a while, but she also found a style of books that hold her interest (romance and non-fiction), and other minor hobbies that she goes back and forth to. Part of me always wished that she did something year after year at school, but looking back now (she's turning 18 in a month), I don't think I could stand forcing her to do things *I* thought were important, nor do I think that she would have developed her own ineterests, as she is just like your son, is not highly motivated.

 

Also friends are overrated. Friends are great, if you  know the friend's parents and have similar beliefs. If however you have only met the parents when dropping off your child at the house, then you have NO idea what may be allowed while your child is there. My ds is VERY easily influenced. If he wants to be in a certain crowd of kids he will do whatever it takes. As a mom it is still my responsibility to monitor this. Keeping him busy keeps him out of trouble.

 

I really don't think friends are overrated. Friends are very important for social development. Family might be the most important unit, but we do need people outside our immediate family, and we need those people more at certain stages of our lives than others. Teenage years are just that stage. And yes, you are the parent, and that's why I would invite the friends over to your house, if you did not trust them. Although, I just cannot imagine not allowing 16 y.o. to spend a few hours each week with friends. He might be bored with this group, or not know what to do with them, but he DOES need to learn how to make friends, maintain friendships, look for people that are good to be around, and learn how to manage bad situations. How old do you think a person should be before they are given the freedom to learn these skills? I sure hope the answer is not college age.

 

There is research that shows that children that are involved in an organized sport or after school activity, get into less trouble. My ds can't do any other sports.  What will he do with his time? Just the other day I allowed him to miss practice to go to a basketball game. WHY? So he can hang with friends. He admitted it was kind of boring and he felt trapped. If they left the school they were not allowed back in. So what will my ds write on his college transcript? I watched my friends play their sports?

I think college should be the time when kids can decide what they want to do with all that free time.

 

I wholeheartedly agree that organized activities are great and that they do keep kids out of trouble. But the research also shows that American parents overdo it with the kids. The answer to being bored with his friends is NOT to limit his time with his friends and to force him into an activity that he no longer wants to do. It's okay to be bored with your friends sometimes. It's okay to watch their practice. It's okay to spend a weekend or two watching TV. I don't know the exact solution to your problem, in a way that it would satisfy you and fit your parenting style and help your son. I just know that forcing someoen to dedicate hours to an activity they don't want is not a good thing, and that friends ARE an important structure of our social life. I bet he won't be swimming when he is 30, or 40, or 70. However, I sure hope he knows how not to be bored when he has free time or has friends over. That's just my view on things. Peace.gif



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#28 of 41 Old 02-09-2011, 12:28 PM
 
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Lots of good comments here. I think what people are advocating is balance. His life seems quite out of balance right now, very regimented.

 

Is he bored with his friends or just awkward?  Maybe it doesn't matter. Does it matter that he was bored? He needs different experiences with people. Perhaps he needs more experience with friends.

 

 

Quote:

 

He is not a motivated child. He never has been. If he has no one to "play" with then he just has no idea what to do with him self.

 

It seems like there are two issues here, motivation and what he chooses to do with his free time. I'm not sure how they're related.

 

Is he not as motivated as you are? I hope that's OK.  He has the right to be a low-key kind of guy. 


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#29 of 41 Old 02-09-2011, 01:19 PM
 
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Is he not as motivated as you are? I hope that's OK.  He has the right to be a low-key kind of guy. 

that's the main thing jumping out at me. From this and other posts, OP you definitely seem to have an extreme kind of personality. And that's totally fine - obviously it has served you well. But not everyone is like that. Not everyone WANTS to be like that. And perhaps most importantly, that's not the only way to be happy or successful in life. In fact I know someone who come across like you who is not happy at all.

I agree that his life seems very out of balance and you might be all in for a nasty shock when he gets this 'freedom' in college.

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as someone who has been there and seen it in college. The kids who go out of control crazy are the ones who had no freedom at home. 
Those kids have no clue what to do with themselves when mommy and daddy aren't there to control every step. Yikes, is all I'm going to say to the "friends are overrated" comment.

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