Teen son struggles after family’s move to new state

Published 8:37 am Tuesday, April 26, 2022

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DEAR ABBY: Because of frustration with our state’s substantial COVID restrictions and our teen son’s struggles with remote learning, we moved to another state. At the time, our son was excited to move (we kept asking him to make sure). However, we are now nearly through the school year and he still hasn’t made new friends. He’s depressed and wants to move back.
He plays a sport and has a part-time job, but neither have helped. My husband and I love it here. In fact, our son loves everything except his lack of a social life (beyond texting, FaceTiming and playing video games with his old friends).
We work from home, so it would be an option for us to temporarily return so he can finish his remaining two years of high school in our original state. He has always been very social, so we are surprised he hasn’t made new friends. Should we push him to keep trying? Or is moving back for two years the best for his (and our) mental well-being? — WANTS THE BEST FOR HIM

DEAR WANTS: Moving during one’s teens isn’t easy, particularly because cliques have already formed. Before packing your bags, talk with your son’s teachers and counselors about why he has had problems integrating there. They may be able to offer some important insight.
However, if they cannot do that and you are prepared to make the move when the school term is over, do it. Being treated as an outcast isn’t good for anyone’s mental health, and while it might benefit your son to learn to adapt, he might do better academically if you put him in a friendlier environment.
DEAR ABBY: I have two grown sons who are 13 months apart. The younger, age 44, constantly and viciously degrades his brother in text messages. His anger level is so high that on Christmas Eve two years ago, while he was visiting from a neighboring state with his wife, he declared, “S—- this family!” and stalked out, leaving his wife, my husband and me stunned.
Since then, his wife has divorced him, he’s been rear-ended in a car wreck due to road rage, lost his job and alienated himself from our family. Online research I’ve done indicates he’s narcissistic. Last month, I texted him my concern that he’d walked off his job, which unleashed an angry tirade against his brother and me.
Everything is our fault, and he badmouths his ex-wife mercilessly. He’s an adult, so I can’t force him to seek mental health help. Is there anything I can do? We no longer communicate, but a mother can’t erase love and concern for her child. — WORN OUT IN WYOMING

DEAR WORN OUT: Your son is deeply troubled, and for that you have my sympathy. For the sake of your own mental health, I strongly recommend you consult a licensed mental health professional. You can’t diagnose your son’s problem, and neither can I. You also cannot force him into therapy before he’s ready to admit that he needs it. Please don’t wait to do this. I know you are hurting.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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