General Question

jonsblond's avatar

Can you help me understand this thought process?

Asked by jonsblond (43933points) November 26th, 2017

Our family is in the process of making major changes to improve our life, especially for our young teenage child who is dealing with major depression. We are looking to move out of state by next Spring.

We have a specific location in mind. Whenever I bring up the good things about this new location to our son he gets very upset. It reminds him of how much he hates it where we live now. It reminds him that he’s stuck here with nothing to do.

I’m trying to be positive and I thought that sharing the good things about this move would cheer him up, but it’s doing the opposite.

I will discuss this with our therapist at our next appointment, but that’s two weeks away. Should I refrain from being positive about the move until then? Any other suggestions?

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39 Answers

janbb's avatar

The best way I can relate to this is by thinking of when my sons were applying to and going off to college. They hated any talk about it even though they were excited to be going. I think we all have anxiety about the unknown and especially someone who is depressed may fear even positive change. And if they feel you are trying to sell them on it, they may resent it. If I were you, I would stop discussing it for now and take your cues from them. If they ask questions, answer them but otherwise, leave it alone..

jonsblond's avatar

^I can relate to that experience. It makes sense. I’ll have to talk Jon’s ear off instead because I’m focused on the positive and I need an outlet.

JLeslie's avatar

My perspective is most teenagers don’t want to hear their parents’ opinions. Teenagers struggle to separate themselves psychologically from their parents, that’s basically what adolescence is, and if they feel manipulated or pressured to try to please their parents, it’s very difficult for them. Even if the parent has zero intention of manipulating their child, or putting the burden of pleasing them on the kid, the kid often still perceives things that way.

Are there concrete plans yet to move? You have a date? If not, I wouldn’t talk about it since it upsets your son. Try to talk about things he is looking forward to that you have concrete dates. Having things to look forward to is often an important part of happiness, and getting out of a depression. If there is any way to set up a bunch of small things like this consecutively I recommend it. Is he old enough to work? For me work helped me tremendously as a teen. I liked the job, liked the money, liked the people, got tons of positive reinforcement, it was great.

It’s Christmas time, maybe he can help out in a retail store or supermarket at least for a few weeks.

Jeruba's avatar

I’m wondering, too, if he’s fending off disappointment. The more you build it up, the greater the chance of a letdown (he may think)—and maybe he’s had enough already.

CWOTUS's avatar

My own very fundamental take on this is that he might feel like he’s listening too much to others’ BS, sales pitches and spin. Maybe instead of trying to extoll the benefits of the move, the new location, fresh start, etc. I would suggest that you ask your son open-ended questions about what he likes about where you are now, what he looks forward to in the new location, and what he would like to be, do or have there. Then just listen to his responses and, if necessary, question him regarding the responses solely for understanding.

Don’t try to steer the conversation except with “essay type” questions for his consideration; just listen to his responses.

jonsblond's avatar

I’m taking this all in. Thank you for your responses. It’s been a rough night.

flameboi's avatar

I never liked when someone was trying to convince me that things will be good in some other place. It’s like someone telling you that your visit to the dentist will be so wonderful! My parents moved us to another city when I was 11, and I was so upset and frustrated and angry at them, even though I was rational enough to understand that it was going to be good for everyone (and it was). However, I resented them for years, until I graduated from high school actually. When I became an adult I had to admit that they were right, yet I was miserable all those years. I never studied when I was in high school, it was my way to show my unhappiness. So, just go with your gut, do not oversell it, he will be fine.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Well, I read the other responses, and @CWOTUS is right on with this one.
My dad was a truck driver, OTR. We didn’t see him much. My mom kept us moving, trying to find where we could have the most time with him. I hated moving. I hated leaving friends. I hated feeling awkward and lost. I hated hearing grown ups tell me how okay it would be, and tossing selling points at me.
I just wanted it to stop. I wanted to stop moving. I wanted the sick feeling in my gut to go away.
Ask him if there is some one thing he would like to do before you move. Being a teen forced to move makes someone who is supposed to be growing, and learning to be responsible for their future feel helpless, dragged around. Putting him in the driver’s seat on one or two points will help some.
So far as pointing out reasons why it will be good, there are two things about that which are bad. One, it sounds like a sales pitch. Two, it takes away the joy of discovery.
Try making a game. Have him tell you what he thinks the first name or initial of his first new friend will be. Tell him your guess.
Shoot, you have a creative mind. I am sure you can think of ways to engage him that gives him a certain amount of individuality, power, choice.

jonsblond's avatar

I think it’s important for you all to know that Jon and I would be content living where we live. Jon has job security and we live less than a mile from his work. You really can’t ask for more, though the thought of living closer to important resources, especially as we get older, is very inviting. Our son is miserable living in this tiny rural town. We had no intention of moving until our son was diagnosed with major depression. Our son wants this move more than anyone else. It was his idea. This is why I’m having a hard time understanding his thought process. This is what he wants but he doesn’t want to talk about it. This is not being forced on him.

canidmajor's avatar

He knows that this move is for him and may be feeling guilty about that. Remember, he’s heard you being happy about your current location before, and may be feeling that you are trying to convince yourself that this move is a good thing. He really doesn’t understand that his perspective is more important to you than other considerations.
Concentrate on the holidays, winter stuff, school, right now, while continuing to prep to move.
Good luck with this, @Aethelwine, it is a fraught time for you all.

flutherother's avatar

As others have said I wouldn’t try to lift your son’s mood by telling him how wonderful things will be in your new location. You are putting a burden on him to be happy after the move and your son may feel he will disappoint you. When talking about the move it might be better to stress the advantages it has for you and your husband rather than your son.

JLeslie's avatar

It’s a huge burden to decide for the family that the family should move, and he is probably grappling with being the one to put the pressure on his parents to make the move. In his mind it’s probably his “fault.” It’s his fault there is this difficulty for his dad who has a good job. I mean, if he just disappeared all your problems go away, and his pain goes away.~

If that is his thinking, I really hope I’m wrong, then it seems logical he’s depressed, and possibly suicidal.

Plus, are you sure he isn’t afraid of moving? He may want to be out of his current situation, but also afraid of the move. Right now he gets to stay home for school and not interact much with kids his age if I remember correctly. When you move he really needs to put himself out there and see if he is accepted. No excuse anymore that it’s a small town, and that’s why he’s not accepted. That’s gotta be scary. Moreover, I don’t know how much he picks up on your fears for his safety, which I think some of it is valid, but might be overblown in your son’s head, and so his depression and lack of enthusiasm to go out and be in the world actually works for him. The mind is an incredible thing, it’s very complicated. People will go back to their status quo without even realizing what they’re doing.

You have to assume you don’t have all the information. That he does not tell you all his thoughts and fears. I see parents all the time say their kid would tell them everything, and I just don’t understand that line of thinking. I’m not saying you have said that or think it, I’m just putting it out there. Plus, any guess any of us make here could be completely wrong about how your son might be thinking.

Are you still trying to move near your sister? Can she take him in September and see how school goes over there? Changing schools and cities can be magical, it can be a transformative event for the good, but sometimes it’s miserable, and not what was expected.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Enter pessimist.

I’m always concerned when I hear about people moving to improve their lives. Most people’s problems/issues, are internal in origin, not external/environmental. Especially depression.
“No matter where you go, there you are.” There are many sayings like this, for good reason.

If the person can’t be happy where they are, what will be so different where they are going?

Why will these differences be so effective for change?

Is it possible to replicate some of the desired changes in your current environment, to see if real change will occur?

Uprooting can bring lots of stress. Stress that could work against the goal of reducing depression. Stressed people, are often depressed, and vice versa.

If there is a bullying thing, moving could help. Or, it may be more beneficial for the child to learn to cope with ,or overcome the bullying, and be a better person in the long run.

I had to grow up in multiple types of areas. Rural, urban, cold, hot etc. There are different things to do, depending on the environment. Mostly, it depends on the person though. If you aren’t happy in your own head, you won’t be happy outside of it.

A good friend of mine has a saying. (Imagine this in her Jamaican accent, with some anger in the tone.)
“The grass is always greener, on the other side. Because it’s fed with bull shit.

Good luck with whatever you do. I can tell your heart is in the right place.

canidmajor's avatar

@MrGrimm888: There are exigent circumstances in this case.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Aethelwine GQ. Thank you for asking us.

The stress of being a transgender person is enormous. The stress of moving, even if it’s to better circumstances, is enormous. The stress that he may be the reason for the move is enormous, as has been mentioned by @canidmajor so well. Don’t draw attention to the stress in any way. Talking about the good things to come in the new place draws attention to the current stress.

In stressful times, comfort can be found in routine. Make routine where you are now. Have regular daily habits. The simplest things make a lot of difference. Wake him up at the same time. Make sure that he brushes his teeth. Make the same/similar foods. Start schoolwork at the same time. Take regular, timed breaks. Routine. Do the routine together. Create a safe world for him in the walls of your home.

@JLeslie Did you really have to decide that @Aethelwine‘s son is suicidal? Can’t you leave that to the people in the situation to determine? Geez.

marinelife's avatar

@JLeslie Or to the professionals that the family is seeing? Why even introduce that here?

@Hawaii_Jake Very helpful answer.

@Aethelwine My heart goes out to you as you try to negotiate this difficult time.

jonsblond's avatar

Thank you so much, everyone. You have helped me to see things a bit differently. You have all been very helpful.

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CWOTUS's avatar

Incidentally, although I didn’t say it in my earlier response, I would emphatically suggest that you specifically not ask the type of “what don’t you like about…” question that many well-meaning people do from time to time.

As I’ve noted before in many other threads, maybe ad nauseum to some of the older jellies, that way leads down a rathole of listing “all of the things that are wrong with the world” – in other words, a disabling question rather than an “enabling” question that leads to looking for solutions instead of problems.

jonsblond's avatar

^This has been a very thoughtful discussion, and very helpful, so I’m not quite sure what you are going on about. Do you mean questions for my son or for Fluther? If you meant my son, then I understand. (forgive me for being confused. I was reminded of a time when a couple jellies scolded me for discussing my child here.)

CWOTUS's avatar

Yes, I mean in the discussions that I suggest between parent and child in my first post. You want the child to focus on things in his control and which he can improve or look forward to, not on things that he can’t do anything about – and that are negative to begin with.

jonsblond's avatar

^Makes sense. I do apologize for the misunderstanding.

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jonsblond's avatar

Just a little reminder that you have all been helpful. Thanks again!

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kritiper's avatar

Stay positive, but don’t dwell/overemphasize on it, conversation-wise, when he is in the room, or when talking directly to him. You are the boss. BE the boss!

jonsblond's avatar

I will. Thanks!

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rojo's avatar

__Should I refrain from being positive about the move until then?__ Yes, I think you should since it appears to do nothing but aggravate the situation. In fact I would suggest not even mentioning it.
You are planning on moving in order to make life a little more tolerable for your son which is commendable but mentioning it seems to bring him grief so why do it You know it is going to happen, he knows it. Leave it at that. Wait for him to initiate any conversation about the upcoming change. He is probably already fretting about the move and what it will mean to him. If I were to guess (and I stress the term guess) he is uncomfortable with the knowledge that you and your husband are making such a sacrifice to try to help him and doesn’t know how to express these feelings other than to lash out. So, stop trying to verbalize your wanting to help, just do it,.

jonsblond's avatar

Good suggestion, @rojo. I’ll let him bring up the conversation when he is ready.

Mariah's avatar

I was recently struggling over the decision to change jobs. My old job was causing me a lot of grief, but for some reason I was really anxious to take the step forward into something new. My therapist said sometimes people hesitate to make a change that they think will be good for them, because what if you make the change but then you don’t feel happier? You then lose that sense of hope that there’s still something you can do to make your life better. It creates fear around making the change. I did take the job, and it did make me happier.

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