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My son wont go to school

Community Member

Hi, I have a 17 year old son who sleeps in a lot and refuses to go to school even though he's doing his final year. I've tried to make him aware of the importance of attending class so he can pass his exams and he says he wants to pass but he's making no (apparent) effort. I've been to parent/teacher interviews and the teachers say as long as he does his work and attends class he will pass. They have been supportive. I've tried not to pressure my son and have said I just want him to pass, not worry about getting high marks. He shows no interest in what he wants to do when he finishes school and won't make an appointment to see the careers advisor. He refuses to take on a trade apprenticeship and hasn't attended any of the careers evenings at the school.

He saw a psychologist earlier on in the year for 10 sessions and is on anti depressants. He also has Crohn's Disease for which he is receiving treatment. His disease is in remission so it shouldn't affect his schoolwork although he's had time off because of illnesses caught because he's on immuno-suppressants and tending to pick up illnesses easily.

I am suffering bad anxiety as a result of the stress. I am on anti anxiety tablets to try and control it, but dont have an anxiety disorder. My husband isn't supportive of me and says that worrying will get me nowhere, but he can't come up with any useful suggestions as to what we can do about our son. I would be happy if my son took a gap year next year and got a job, however he shows no interest in getting work other than a low-paying job he already has as a pharmaceutical delivery boy. He sleeps most of the day and gets up late afternoons, eats then socialises with his friends on the weekends.

I don't have a supportive family and my daughter wants to leave home because she says we are in an unhappy environment and she's sick of me yelling at my son to get up out of bed. I try not to yell at him but sometimes I do. I've tried to talk calmly to him but he just clams up and wont discuss anything with me. He is totally uncooperative no matter what I say to him. He used to play sports but he's given them up, now he sits on the computer, lies in bed or socialises.

I wish there was a strong male mentor around for my son but there is noone. He says there's no way he's prepared to repeat school next year yet if he doesnt get an Atar score he'll have scant chance of getting into any sort of decent course. Worried sick.

32 Replies 32

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member


Welcome to the forum, it's nice to meet you. If you need to talk to someone you can always call 1300 22 4636.

Ugh teenage boys can be tricky to get along with!

But first things first take some deep, slow breathes. I know it feels like a mess at the moment but it will work it's way out. What I did like about your description is that he is socialising, something that goes by the wayside fairly easily if you're depressed.

My son behaved in a similar fashion t this age and somehow passed and after a few false starts now works in a job the the is qualified for and passionate about. I think I was worried I would be supporting him forever at the time. Boy's and girls do it differently, how old is your daughter?

I don't know anyone that would want to be a teenager again. Hormones running nuts, coming to terms with who you are, being asked to make decisions about your future before you're brain is fully developed, some say this can be unto your 30's. I remember my boy turning from a sweet, gentle, compassionate teenager into something I wasn't sure I recognised, grumpy, sleepy and just not my boy! He couldn't explain what was going on either, not that he wanted too.

Brains develop much later than the age of legal adulthood, see if this article is useful to you, it might help explain why we ask a lot from immature young people:


So hang on you have about of a rocky ride to go. You say he is on AD's has the doctor checked on how they are working? It may be a worthwhile visit. The poor thing Crohn's diseases is just awful, I'm glad it's in remission, but the side effects of the meds aren't helpful when you can catch every bug going.

My gut feeling is to let him fail, sorry I know you don't want to hear that. At his age he can afford to fail, suffer the consequences, grow a lot with a few new life experiences under his belt, a more complete brain and yet still have you to back him up. How has he gone at schools so far?

That's probably a lot to take in at the moment. There are a lot of people on the forum with a wealth of experience that can offer advice. You have a few other issues in there to chat about, daughter, anxiety, hubby. When your up to it write back and let us know how you are going.

It's important that you look after yourself, go have some relaxation and fun. It's good for your family to see that you are a person with feelings and needs too!

Take care, x

Thanks. His teachers have said let him learn the hard way too (by failing). Im afraid it may send him into further depression if he does but he wont discuss anything with me. He didnt like his local high school so we switched schools for him. He passed last year but just isnt interested in going this year. He was a lovely sporting boy once but now all he does is cause me grief. I do my best to support him. Yes I have issues. A terrible marriage, a rotten low-paying job I cant stand, an unsupportive family who are sick of me "whingeing" and very few close friends. I am a social person, yet never have anyone to do anything with so am pretty lonely as a result. I am not happy at all and dont know how to improve my life. I am 55 so Im not getting any younger either. I wish I could find a support group to join. That is definitely what I need. Thanks for your email. Appreciate it. Keep in touch.

Oh by the way Wednesday my daughter has just turned 21. My other daughter is 22. All three of my "children" are still at home and not in paid employment although my son has his pharmaceutical round (low-paying). It's a constant struggle supporting them at this age and we live a very basic life indeed and go on few holidays.

Hi there,

You certainly have a lot on your plate. You mentioned that you are taking drugs for anxiety, is it possible that you are also suffering from some depression? It's not unusual to have both anxiety and depression under our belts, one seems to lead to the other. This website has a quiz that may help you work out what is going on for you, on the home page look under Facts, then anxiety and depression check list K10.

It is really important that you look after yourself, after all this is your life too! It is hard to help others when you are feeling so wretched yourself. As a mum we want to fix all the problems for our children, but we can't it is a hard lesson.

You said you have a few close friends. Is there anyone in your life you can confide in, a friend a relative. You have us on the site but it would be great to have someone that can lend you a shoulder from time to time. There is so much going on for you, can you talk to your doctor (you could take the K10 quiz with you) or/and maybe see a counsellor to help sort out your priorities. It's never easy but every step helps. there must be social groups near you. For privacy reasons we don't tend to know where each other lives. so I'm not sure what to suggest. My local paper often advertises group activities as does the library. The council website may have something too.

The other thing you may enjoy is try BB Cafe on the social zone. It's a virtual cafe but you might enjoy a visit. have look around the site to see if there is anything that attracts your attention.

What can you do for yourself now that would make you feel a little less wretched? E.g a bubble bath, watch funny movie, go for a walk, knit, whatever makes you feel settled.

Don't worry about your daughters they too need to take responsibility for their decisions, there goes that tough love lecture again. I know it's really hard for you. But letting them move out of home teaches will teach them a lot of life skills. They will all turn around and they have you as a cheer squad.

Look after yourself first. Here's a hug in case it helps.

Thanks Wednesday. I have suffered depression in the past and been on anti ds, I know all about how I feel when Im depressed and dont want to go on anti ds again at this stage though I may have to yet again if things dont improve. I have done those quizzes and I'm more anxious than depressed though I get awfully down and sometimes cry a fair bit in private. No I dont have a close relative I can talk to, people just think I'm a whinger and that I feel sorry for myself and my friends dont give a damn, really. I try to do things to help myself but I'm just so sick of having to do everything BY MYSELF!! I go to movies by myself, rock concerts by myself, travel by myself, the football by myself. Everything and Im sick and tired of it cos I like to be able to have someone to talk to and share experiences with.

Im hopefully going to be taking up a crochet class in October. That will give me a hobby cos I sorely need one at the moment. I am also seeing a counsellor but it's only 4 sessions I get with her because of the funding and I cant afford to see a psychologist after the counsellor seeing I only have a low paying job.

Ill take your advice and join the BB Cafe and see what comes of it. Im also on fb and that keeps me occupied though I rarely meet anyone I'm "friends" with on it. I must also look up the council website per your advice.

Thanks for replying to me, what I believe I really need is some sort of a support group and I'll do what I can to find out if such a thing exists that suits me. I'm trying to take positive steps in my life but loneliness gets me down.

Hugs back. Sue

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hello again,

I just had another thought. If you go to the Home page, hit Get Support and go to New Access, you can access some free help. I think it's six sessions face to face or by phone. It might be good to got it off your chest and gain some new tools to manage your tricky situation. As I said just a thought.

I hope today is a bit better for you.

Hello Sue

I just noticed your thread and good on you for having the strength to post too!

I have gone through the same pain when my daughter decided to 'just stop' attending school in year 10 (she is 23 now) There was no recourse or backing for me as a dad. The school just kept quoting the 'Privacy Act' from 1986 and nothing really happened from the Victorian Govt or the education department too.

I also read that you dont have an anxiety disorder too. You are a legend for taking the anti-anxiety meds to counter the feelings you are having.

I also read that your husband is not supportive. The difficulty is that if our kids wish to leave school..and take the wrong path, they can. The rights of the kids outweigh the rights of the parents.

I have had anxiety since 1983 and then depression from 1996 when I was 46. I have had to let my daughter find her own way since she decided to leave school. There was nothing I said that made any difference, even with all the care and nurturing.

Interesting though...back in 1985 when I was 25..a girlfriend of mine that was at uni said to me that she wants to give kids a 'voice' and the 'rights they deserve'. I know she meant well but unfortunately her 'good intentions' went a bit astray...(understatement of the millennium)

I see Wednesday has given some sound advice too! Nice1

Excuse I for the late post Sue

I hope you can stick around

My kind thoughts


Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Sue,

It's tough t be in a spot where you feel so alone. The crochet class sounds like a really good idea. Walking group would be good too, friends and exercise bonus!

I know you are on low pay and on Anti-Anx meds but can you see your GP and have a chat. Even if it is just to keep in touch so they know where you are at.

Did you get to look for the free BB counselling service I mentioned? You have quite a few things to work through, your marriage, children and even maybe your job? It sounds like you are in one of those underpaid, under recognised roles that are so incredible important, so thank you for doing it.

Hugs, this is just a moment, it will change, you'll be able to look back at this time. x

Yes I am very lonely and meds help to a certain extent but they do not stop the loneliness and the fact that I have to entertain myself most of the time. I havent yet looked for the free BB service as yet, I'll do that when the counselling sessions Im getting now have run out. Thanks for the suggestion as I didnt know about that and cant afford to pay for therapy at the moment. Yes, I have a terrible marriage with an unsupportive husband who does not love me or touch me physically in any way. Our marriage has been over for years even though we live under the same roof. My son did not go to school again today even though he had an assessment task he knew he had to do, in fact he's only been to school one day this week and despite my best efforts, has refused to get and go. My husband said yesterday that he has given up on our son. That's exactly what I mean by lack of support. Although I am at my wits end with our son, I refuse to give up on him! I do not want him to go down the path of drug dealing or crime, and I'm afraid this is what he'll end up doing if he doesnt decide what he wants to do or show any interest in life after school. If he'd just show an interest in getting a job or career I'd feel better but he is totally indifferent to anything we suggest. If he got his way he'd just lie in bed all day, every day. He's on anti ds but apart from taking them doesnt seem to want to help himself. It is heartbreaking for me to see him like this, even though you wouldnt know he was depressed talking to him. I have found a support group run by an organisation other than BB, will be going to my first session next Wednesday. Truly hope this is beneficial for me cos I dont know where else to turn and life is just not treating me well at all.