Sunday 23 October 2016

Ask Majella: Majella O'Donnell solves your problems

My son is struggling at school and my husband won't help

Published 31/05/2015 | 02:30

Majella O'Donnell
Majella O'Donnell

This week readers look for advice on a teenage son who is struggling at school and a person who has fallen in love with their best friend.

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Dear Majella

Just to let you know that I enjoy reading your column every week as I know many people can relate to the issues covered. To some people my issue may seem very minor but here goes: My 16-year-old son is having a hard time at school, and he always did.

He is a lovely, down-to-earth guy and gets on very well academically but finds it very hard to make and keep friends. Up to the Easter Holidays he had two close friends and never bothered with anyone else in the year. But then one moved away and the other doesn't want to have anything to do with my son anymore. Every evening he comes home upset and blames himself for everything. As well as that, his grades are falling.

Anyway, a few days ago, he casually started talking about moving to another school and said he'd be much happier as he could leave all troubles behind and move on with his life and be more focused on study.

However, my husband is totally against the idea as he wants him to help out on the farm. How can I get my husband to understand that our son's happiness, especially at this stage of his life, is the most important thing?

Worried Mother, Munster

Majella replies: Thank you for your question and your kind comments.

Your son is at the very tricky age of 16 which is such a difficult time for any teenager. He is not a child, yet neither is he an adult. It is also a very confusing and uncertain time for him.

I understand how you feel and your concern is by no means minor. I worried a lot about my children at this stage of their lives. You have no idea what is going on in their heads.

Having said all that, this is also the time when he has to begin to learn how to cope with things on his own. He has lost his best friend so he probably feels very alone. It sounds to me as if his self confidence is very low.

Does he have any social life or hobbies that he could immerse himself in which would also help him to meet new people? Personally, I do not think that moving to another school is the answer to how he is feeling. All he would be doing is running away from the problem instead of facing and dealing with it.

Things like this will happen in his life and he won't be able to just get up and move so he needs to try and deal with his feelings now. Maybe it would be a good idea for him to talk to someone outside the family. Teenagers find it hard to be open with their parents and there may be something else on his mind that is bothering him.

A professional may be able to work this out with him. It is not a nice time to have to go through, but it will make him a stronger person in the long run.

This will pass and he will make new friends so I would just encourage him to get out and meet people and perhaps see a counsellor to talk things through.

I'm completely in love with my best friend

Dear Majella

I know this isn't a unique problem but it's really been getting me down. I'm in love with my best friend and it's making me completely miserable. It's like my mood totally depends on him - if he texts me or wants to hang out with me, I'm on top of the world.

Sometimes it seems like he makes more of an effort with other female friends than he does with me (which is the case a lot of the time), and I feel miserable. I've never been so pathetic about a boy before and I hate it.

I've had a crush on him for nearly a year now and I know for a fact he's liked other girls we know. I want to get over him so badly but that's a hard thing to do when I see him so often and he'd know something was up if I stopped wanting to hang out.

I have this feeling something will happen between us some day but that might just be wishful thinking. Should I try to get over him or should I make more of an effort with him?

Aoife, Mayo

Majella replies: I wish I knew how old you were so I could answer this problem more effectively. I would say you are probably young and forgive me if I am wrong. So many girls feel the way you do when they meet a guy they really like. Their whole world becomes consumed by the other person.

I have to admit to being like that myself in the past. Unfortunately, this kind of behaviour is pretty unhealthy. You become dependant on the other person for your happiness so you are in fact giving control of your feelings to them.

You really need to look at why you are doing this because if you don't address it now, it could have an effect on your future relationships. There are lots of other guys out there who would be happy to have you as a friend or girlfriend. You should be in charge of what makes you happy or sad because he is not even aware he is having this effect on you, yet everything he does either brings you up or puts you down.

That's not his fault so you need to take control of your feelings. It is wonderful that you have such a friend in your life but there are plenty of other things and people in your life too.

Don't expect him to focus on you all the time. He has lots of other friends and so should you. You need to accept that without feeling you are being rejected. I'm sure your feelings for him will pass, but in the meantime, try to see him as a friend who has lots of other friends too. Don't worry about what will happen in the future as you have no control over that. Good luck.

Irish Independent

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