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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I am very glad I discovered this website. I am a step mom, my son is 14 years old. Ever since he was a little kid (I have been with him for 10 years, his mom lives in a different State and does not have much communication with him) he always hated the idea of making friends.

All his teachers, and counselors at schools, always told us that he always looked unhappy and depressed, he was never interested in communicating with others, even if they put him in an environment with other students who share the same interests (in our case computers and video games). He always gives you very short answers when you ask him questions, like one word answers most of the time, he went to speech therapy for 2 years but it only helped him a little bit. They did more tests on him and decided he was not qualified for special ed but he lacked social skills compared to his peers, and he seems to not show much emotion either. When he comes home from school all he wants is sitting on the computer and playing games or drawing, he thinks all his peers are very immature, they always try to belong to a social statue which he finds quite boring.

Today, I received a call from his counselor at school and she told me he was telling people to [email protected]!# off when they were trying to talk to him (not the teachers but the students). He absolutely does not want to talk to anyone, nor make any kind of friends what so ever.

We tried to take him to a psychologist a few years ago, he only went twice and refused after that.

I am not saying that I want him to be a social bug, I do not know at this point how to approach him, and I get worried thinking about how he would handle life in general when the time comes for him to work etc. He makes it clear that people in general bother him a lot.

I don't want him to feel like there is something terribly wrong with him, but I don't know how to help him or maybe in this case how to help myself or my husband figure out how to approach him? I have read some threads here, and I definitely agree that society puts labels on us one being more acceptable than the other one, there is always some kind of "preference" over something, and that's why I am very worried that if I take him to a therapist that I might make him feel unaccepted.

If you have any experience, please share your thoughts here with me, I really any and all input. Thank you!
 

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Have you tried to type him? Figure out his MBTI or his enneagram? Not everyone expresses their introversion in the same way.

In my experience (and I'm pretty close to being 100% introverted) I hate people trying to force me to be social. I felt like they were trying to "fix" me when there was nothing wrong and being around people all day (even if I'm not particularly social with them) is extremely draining for me. I have to be alone to recharge.

I've had people purposely provoke me and then get "offended" when I tell them to go away. I'm sure their intentions were good, they were just trying to "help" me become more social, but I found them very self-righteous.

So, how much alone time does he get? And is alone or just doing something by himself (there's a difference, at least to me).

And maybe ask here to try to figure out what type he is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
He gets A LOT of alone time, that's why we were concerned to begin with. And when he is alone, he is basically on the computer playing games, or he has a drawing pad that he can attach to the computer. We also found out he joined a fiction writers' forum space where he reads fiction from other people and he can post his own. He is very private though, he never shows us what he draws or what he writes. We had found a couple stories that he wrote, in his room, they were quite interesting, sort of mystery type of short stories. But if he knew we even found out about them he would be very mad at us. He likes drawing scenes from video games he plays etc. During the week ends it is the same thing, never gets out of his room unless he needs to eat or drink something or play wit the dogs for a few minutes (and that is usually when he is waiting for a download to finish). We try to take him out for family lunch or shopping every now and then.

Not wanting to be with other people is one thing, but when someone tries to talk to him for example I wonder if he cares he is being rude when he tells them to "[email protected]#$ off"? How should we address this issue?
 

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When I was a child, I had a sense of being "different." I prefered to spend my time wandering around the playground alone, thinking about existentialist topics. I didn't like being different (I thought there was something wrong with me) so I tried to over-compensate for it by acting hyper and out of control. When I lost the energy to be hyper, I snapped at people who invaded my personal space. Toward the end of second grade I got in huge trouble with my parents because people mistook my sensitivity for bullying.

The thing is, none of my classmates were like me at all. When I tried to act like them I only got frustrated and failed miserably. By fourth grade I just said "screw it" and stopped talking or laughing altogether. I didn't start making friends until seventh grade, when I found somebody with a common interest.

I was, and still am, as far as I can tell, similar to your son. I draw, read, play computer games, write short stories, and spend lots of time on my own. I don't have a lot of friends, but as of right now I do have a few satisfying relationships with other people. I'm not a parent, but speaking as a 100% introvert, I'd say it would be a good idea to get his MBTI type, just to figure out what he's dealing with. If he's anything like me, then there's a good chance he feels alienated and unaccepted by his peers. Perhaps you could try sending him to a writing summer camp or a gaming convention, somewhere where he could meet like-minded people.
 

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I agree with what the others are saying. It sounds to me like he is doing just fine on his own, and he probably does have friends online in the forum that he posts on. You should try to encourage his talents rather than try to fix him.

He sounds like an INFx (more than likely INFP, possibly INFJ) to me actually. I say that because he seems to be offended when others try to enter his private space, which I can relate to (and also seems very FP like). You should try to encourage his strengths until he opens up a little more, he is obviously hurt about something. Minimize the focus on his weaknesses until he lets you into his life a bit more. If he is an INFP, our type is very sensitive to criticism and can often see criticism in places where none is intended. I still have this problem very often myself.

Check the "Potential Problem Areas" of INFP Personal Growth and see how much he relates to that. There are some good tips for improvement there which I try to follow myself.
 

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It's never good to try to make an introvert an extrovert. I was the same way up until about 13, which was my first year in public school. 75% of people are extroverts, and many of us introverts try to act like extroverts in order to be accepted. He sounds like he has very strong willpower and is probably staying like that just to be rebellious. Chances are he will be reaching the stage soon where he begins to long for human interaction and he will start opening up to others. Don't intentionally try to introduce him to people, let them come to him on their own.
 

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I would guess that this is really a problem and not simply someone exhibiting an introverted behavior preference, in that too many people have noticed this behavior and are concerned about it.

He may be struggling with acceptance or feelings of inadequacy based on past dealings with others, or it could be related to something else entirely, but spending hours and hours alone for a long period of time can certainly send an introvert into a spiral of social dysfunction.

I would guess that your best options are to engage him in activities that you do as a family - simply telling him to socialize won't do it - you've gotta get out there and do it too. Try to pick activities that he'll enjoy after he engages. FWIW, professional counseling is in order - probably for the whole family. Yeah, he can resist/rebel, but you hold a few trump cards that will get his cooperation, albeit grudgingly.

HTH
 

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He gets A LOT of alone time, that's why we were concerned to begin with.
Why?

Is it the alone time that bothers you or is it that he excludes social activities?

Not wanting to be with other people is one thing, but when someone tries to talk to him for example I wonder if he cares he is being rude when he tells them to "[email protected]#$ off"? How should we address this issue?
Tell him this blatant rudeness isn't acceptable, but make sure that you don't flip out and go "oh my god how could you possibly use language like that?" I'm about 10 years older than your son and the f-bomb is actually pretty mild compared to a lot of the slang I've heard.

I don't say this to condone his behavior, just to point out that things that totally shock my parents are normal everyday "blah" for me.


And I agree with everything @niss said, especially the part of getting counseling as a group instead of just him.
 

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He sounds more like an ISTP to me, an ISTP who is stuck in a Ti-Ni loop.
ISTP/INFJ: Ti/Ni or Ni/Ti--Schizoid Personality Disorder. These types are socially incompetent for lack of trying, because they see little to no value in significant interaction with others. They live in their own abstract worlds, constantly second-guessing themselves as Ti poses a framework for a problem and Ni shoots it down as too definitionally precise. Without any real external input, these two functions will dream up all sorts of elaborate systems and implications for them, only to repeat their own self-defeating behavior, never bothering to emphasize putting any of its intense ideas into practice. Frequent disregard for rules, laws and other forms of behavioral standards is common, as no function provides any significant sense of external influence. If Se/Fe were doing its job, the user would recognize the value of connecting with others and of paying attention to their needs, preferences, habits and appearances.
We also don't like it when people enter our private space and we can get quite territorial. I don't know why he told his fellow students to fuck off, but I would guess he didn't trust them and acted like like a cornered beast. (No insult meant btw. According to neuroscience, the lower part of our brains are very similar to a reptilian's brain. It starts a fight-or-flight reaction when we feel threatened.)
Source: personalitycafe . com/ articles/ 25205-dominant-tertiary-loops-common-personality-disorders . html (You'll have to remove the spaces. With my low post count, I "can't post links yet". :p)

An immature ISTP is also sensitive to criticism, but in a different way then an INFP. I would say a feeler (who uses Fi) would be sensitive to criticism, because they would feel attacked as a person. A thinker (who uses Ti) would feel disrespected, because he would feel like other people are too uninterested in his logic. Here is a movie that shows how a stereotypical ISTP would react to criticism: youtu . be/ 6981h1hrB0I

INFP's usually like to talk with people they care about. ISTP's try to to get their message across with as little words as possible. Here is why: personalityjunkie . com/ 2011/ 10/ 15/ personality-type-talkativeness-social-compatibility-relationships/

If he is not an ISTP (which I would find unlikely) he should be a thinker and more likely, an thinker that uses Ti. A computer's system of files and folders is very similar to how a thinker's mind works.

I would highly recommend that you visit the ISTP forums and read articles about our functions and how they affect our actions. If you don't it will be really hard to understand your son, because we don't often share complicated parts of ourselves. It's difficult to verbalize because we have to put a lot of information into a few words. People are often too impatient for us and they like to judge before we are finished. We usually think it's unnecessary for us to share our deeper thoughts with other people because we think you it's not worth the effort and you wouldn't understand anyway. If we know you do understand, we like to share our thoughts about the few subjects we know a lot about.

I hope this helps you. If you need some elaboration, just ask.
 

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Lol, honestly, your son sounds awesome. He hasn't found a role model yet, well perhaps he has, in his fantasy books, games, dreams, etc...

Screw it. Give him more support than criticism or you will make it worse.

Let's see what else, oh yeah, as long as he's making grades, it isn't a huge problem. Telling students to screw off won't get him kicked out of school, and even if he told a teacher that, it wouldn't be the end of the world.

If he is looking to college, then he has quite some time before he has to worry about a job, because he can do student loans etc..

Social skills might be important for finding roomates on craigslist when he's ready to move out for college, but, until then, just be happy he's not smoking too much weed, etc...

Oh one last thing, what games does he play? Maybe you could let yourself have some fun and play some games too haha.

I remember my mom and I use to play Sims haha.

Oh, and for crying out loud, don't ever say the stupidest shit you could ever say like "you need help, whats wrong with you, you should see a therapist."

If you want him not have lowered self esteem, go to the therapist yourself and let him know everyone can benefit from it, so he feels comfortable going to.

Anyway, sounds like ur doing great!!! U seem concerned and very loving of your son. Don't worry too much, he'll be ok :)
 

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As some others have said, he most likely has some online friends; either on those forums or through the games he plays.
I always found it easier to make friends online than in real life, partly because the way of communication is different (text-based, less physical-interaction based). However, after a while I started meeting those people in real life too because I became good friends with them (which, as said, is easier for me online than in real life).
Perhaps you could try to encourage him to meet some of his friends online, perhaps for a LAN-party (gaming-party). Most of these parties last about 2 days and continue throughout the night, so be aware of that.
Two 'problems' could arise to this idea; 1. he's fine with the way it is now and prefers to stay at home, 2. his friends list thousands of miles away.


One important thing though; try not to force any thought in to him.
I know that never worked for me (INTP, Enneagram 9-5) and I would only change my behaviour if I myself figured out it wasn't working before.
Also, don't all of a sudden get an interest in his online life, but do it gradually (otherwise it will seem forced).

Do you have family dinner and family lunches?
As much as I was immersed in my online world, I was still involved with family matter through lunch and dinner (and siblings wanting to play games and I didn't want to be 'rude to say no').

What some others have also said; try not to treat him like he's different.
Because he's not. He's simply more introverted than other people. Based on the drawings and stories you saw/read, it seems like his introvertedness also accompanies a creative spirit. Try to charish that :). Yet again, don't force it.
 

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Well, I think you should just leave him alone...he is probably stressed out because of school and his parents divorcing and he's also just a kid. I think the swearing and stuff will pass by itself as he matures. Anyway, I don't see much problem with him...if he does what he likes that means he's not depressed which means he is not suicidal which is good. Joining the writing forum is a positive thing for me. So, maybe you should just give him more space and make him feel more comfortable with you, make him trust you. Don't force him cause it will only be counterproductive.
 

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Why?

Is it the alone time that bothers you or is it that he excludes social activities?
Well I wondered if she was implying that he already has an enormous amount of alone time, yet he expresses no inclination to interact with others or express himself.

I agree with the sentiment here that no one should be forced to be either extroverted or introverted, it is something inherent in your personality that you cannot change, in that it is about energy.

An introvert gets it from within an extrovert gets it from without. Obviously we all know it's a bit more complicated than that but those simple core points are very important.

@StephanieR

Introverted people do need a bit of extroversion to actually be able to express their inner selves, without it they would become locked down and uncommunicable without any way of progressing in the world either through action or words. However for this to be encouraged will require patience, forcing someone to do so will only drive a relationship apart.
In any case I would try to help him in a subtle manner, introverts of any type are usually good at working something out for themselves and developing their own view of something if an idea is suggested to them.

I would say that he is probably expressing himself through these stories and drawings. His reluctance to share could come from him being unsure as to how those close to him might react to them. He may just be very self-conscious and neurotic and because of this see personal attacks or insults where none are meant. Also he is 14, that is an age of transition *insert cliche about teenage hormones here*, but he may in fact sort himself out.

It may be hard to just stand back where you believe there is a problem but I think the best thing to do is let him get on with it and just observe him for now. I suppose I do lean towards the 'let him be' side of this.

But this is all just speculation. Knowing his MBTI type and functions would help as others here said.
 

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I agree with what niss said. I went through something similar with my 16 year old daughter.
Ditto this. My daughter is 15yo INTJ.

Things that worked for us:
  • Talking about the online game she plays (WoW) and her online friends. Many of the kids she plays with online are kids she knows in school. Their generation socializes differently than ours did.
  • Moving her computer into the living room so she couldn't shut me out. Eventually, she realized she didn't like being isolated in her bedroom anymore than she liked being interrupted while gaming.
  • Counseling for both of us with a stringently adhered to promise from me that I would NOT ask her about her sessions. Ever. Also, keep in mind that picking a therapist at random doesn't work. It took several tries before we found one my daughter clicked with.
  • Strict enforcement of basic manners in my presence or in any situation where I might hear about transgressions.
  • One-on-one time with me doing something she enjoys other than being on her computer. For us, that was going to movies of her choice.

Good luck.
 

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He sounds more like an ISTP to me, an ISTP who is stuck in a Ti-Ni loop.
We also don't like it when people enter our private space and we can get quite territorial. I don't know why he told his fellow students to fuck off, but I would guess he didn't trust them and acted like like a cornered beast. (No insult meant btw. According to neuroscience, the lower part of our brains are very similar to a reptilian's brain. It starts a fight-or-flight reaction when we feel threatened.)
Source: personalitycafe . com/ articles/ 25205-dominant-tertiary-loops-common-personality-disorders . html (You'll have to remove the spaces. With my low post count, I "can't post links yet". :p)

An immature ISTP is also sensitive to criticism, but in a different way then an INFP. I would say a feeler (who uses Fi) would be sensitive to criticism, because they would feel attacked as a person. A thinker (who uses Ti) would feel disrespected, because he would feel like other people are too uninterested in his logic. Here is a movie that shows how a stereotypical ISTP would react to criticism: youtu . be/ 6981h1hrB0I

INFP's usually like to talk with people they care about. ISTP's try to to get their message across with as little words as possible. Here is why: personalityjunkie . com/ 2011/ 10/ 15/ personality-type-talkativeness-social-compatibility-relationships/

If he is not an ISTP (which I would find unlikely) he should be a thinker and more likely, an thinker that uses Ti. A computer's system of files and folders is very similar to how a thinker's mind works.

I would highly recommend that you visit the ISTP forums and read articles about our functions and how they affect our actions. If you don't it will be really hard to understand your son, because we don't often share complicated parts of ourselves. It's difficult to verbalize because we have to put a lot of information into a few words. People are often too impatient for us and they like to judge before we are finished. We usually think it's unnecessary for us to share our deeper thoughts with other people because we think you it's not worth the effort and you wouldn't understand anyway. If we know you do understand, we like to share our thoughts about the few subjects we know a lot about.

I hope this helps you. If you need some elaboration, just ask.
ISTP's don't tend to be story writers and artists though. Actually, I toyed with the idea of him being an ISFP as well. Definitely not a Ti user though. I don't think he has a social disorder, he probably has friends online which he interacts with. Also, we don't know what the other kids at school were saying to him, it may have warranted a 'f*@ off'. Some kids at school can be pretty cruel.

I'd amend my statement to say he is likely an ISFP or an INFP. If we could see some examples of his stories, I'm sure that would clarify it much more. That's my guess and reasoning though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Yes, we are thinking about counseling outside of school. We will try to arrange an appointment with his primary care doctor for a referral. We never discourage him for his drawings and writings. But sometimes the teachers and counselors at schools can drive you really crazy. For example, once they called me to the school to talk about him, one suggested we should put him on ritalin because he was not paying attention to his classes. They said it would help him focus. I was mad. He is already so mellow and quiet, and I don't want to give him a pill and just say:"This will help you focus or be a better student etc..." If you think about it, when he grows up and starts facing grown-up people's issues, then what if he thinks maybe alcohol or drugs would do the same for him? Help him deal with things better? I am kind of against pills like that, no offense to anyone...

But for example a few weeks ago, I tried to engage him to a conversation about games. I wanted his help for a specific game gene, like detective games and if he could help me find one that I would solve mysteries etc. But he just said he didn't know and didn't want to be engaged in a conversation at all. He is very quiet, only gives you short answers.

He always says that he is very shy. For example he never does presentation in class for science projects. To this date, he never did any science project in class. He does not want to talk in front of people.

When he went to visit his mother and her new family which he hadn't seen for years, everyone was treating him like he was a weirdo. They were trying to drag him out of the house to go out and meet people, but all he wanted to at their house was be on X-Box so he can tune everyone else out. When they were trying to talk to him, his mother said he was getting very annoyed. Actually what she really said was she had met a lot of autistic kids and even the worse was not uncommunicative as he was. His older brother who moved to the state where their mom lives was constantly humiliating him saying things like: You are a loser, you have to go out and party, have sex etc.... and it got physical at some point when he tried to really pull him from his arms and take him out. I can't imagine what the poor kid was going through over there, because pretty much his dad and me are the only family he knows and trusts. But by court order, we have to let him visit with his mom, and trying to talk to her about these issues, and he is just not like the rest of his siblings is just like trying to talk to a wall. She just doesn't care and blames us for making him this way and not caring about helping him.

I also thought about homeschooling but we decided against it because then he would never get out of the house. Even if he hates people at school, it is still a way for him to face a social interaction one way or another. And I thought about charter schools too but where we live we only have one option, and usually those are the kids who are kicked out of regular school. We have friends with kids going to charter schools and almost every week they get into fights. So without knowing much about the charter schools, my first impression about them is that the kids there are meaner. And I don't want to put him in a tougher environment.
 

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ISTP's can be fine story writers and artist's. In primary school, we often had to write fiction and non-fiction stories. When I was 10-12 year old my fiction stories were used as class assignments. I wrote a part of our final school play. When I was little, I also liked drawing. Actually, I still do. Ti gives good hand-eye coordination and allows us to fabricate stories using logic. Fantasy is no problem. Just internally change the laws of physics and it all makes sense. An INFP's style is very different though. My ex is an INFP and her paintings were usually very surrealistic.
 
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Geez, I am sympathizing with this guy more and more. I wouldn't react well to a situation like that at his other mother's house either. His birth mother doesn't sound like she understands him like you do, it's really good to hear that you are trying so hard. Counseling might work, it never did for me, but what ChanceyRose said gives me a new hope that it might.

Yeah, the homeschooling probably isn't a great solution either, not for this reason anyways. As much as I hated some of the interactions I had to go through at school, I am stronger for it. Also, I ended up meeting some people at school who changed my world perspective in very positive ways. Hopefully he can meet someone like that.

Your son sounds great, he sounds misunderstood, but he also has some growing up to do. Which is no surprise seeing as how he is still growing up. :) I hope you don't worry yourself over it too much, and find what works best for the both of you.
 
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