Thank you @gina-Ro for the thoughtful reply. In response to your question regarding my motivation for wanting to regulate the use, it is because while I understand that some amount of playing is fine (and maybe even healthy - he gets to play online with his friends so it can be quite social), it seems to take precedence over anything else. Once he starts playing it is very difficult to get him to stop -- whether it is to give his brother a turn (constant source of fights), have dinner, do some chore I have asked him to do, or go to bed. We have repeatedly tried to set rules together, but somehow he finds a way around them. First, he is a very persistent and good negotiator, and, second, when I think it will actually do him some good I relent. That has likely been the main issue -- that in the past (due to his depression) I have not consistently enforced the rules, so now there is an expectation that I won't in the future. So when I now try to enforce our agreements, he claims I am being unfairly harsh or punishing him when before I did not. I do think that he is using his mental health issue to get his way, although maybe not consciously. I am ok with him playing some, but I want to see some balance. Also, if he will not go to school, I worry that letting him play as much as he wants will make staying home so much more fun than going to school, and less likely he will get the motivation to go back. The problem is that school really cannot compete with the Playstation and YouTube -- so I don't want him to think that if he is not in school he can just do whatever he wants all day. My husband thinks if he doesn't go to school he should get a volunteer job or do some other kind of work during school hours. thanks for your suggestions -- it is helpful to have another perspective.
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My 14-year-old son has been depressed for about 8 months (or at least that is when we diagnosed it -- probably for much longer). We have been getting help from a psychologist and psychiatrist. He had suicidal thoughts and panic attacks. These are now largely gone and now both the psychologist and psychiatrist agree that his is no longer clinically depressed, but suffers episodes of depression. My issue is that while we were dealing with the immediate situation of the depression, we were advised to let him do whatever it took to make him feel better. This meant that we did not really set limits on his use of the Playstation or internet. He did not go to school for most of the first semester (7 weeks) and by the end of the semester he was back at school and things seemed to be getting better.
Now, however, we have had a relapse. He has gone to school 4 times in the last 3 weeks. He knows that he is likely to have to repeat the 8th grade if he does not go back soon, and in the afternoons, when we talk about it, he really wants to go. We make a plan each night, but most mornings he is impossible to get out of bed, and refuses to go, instead sleeping until noon. Then he gets up and wants to watch Youtube or play on the Playstation the rest of the day. It is a constant source of tension between us. I have tried a few times to limit these activities - instead encouraging him to do something that will help his situation (exercise, catch up on studying, read a book, write, play guitar, ANYTHING), but he sees it as a "punishment" for not going to school, says I don't love/care for/listen to him, and then threatens suicide. It is clear to me that he is often using his situation to manipulate me. I am frustrated that he is refusing to do anything that will make himself feel better. My view is that if he is not going to school there is no way I can force him but he should not have the "right" to play on the Playstation and watch videos all day. I would like to get rid of the darn thing altogether, but have been cautioned against doing so by the psychologist. So I would like to limit his use, but it causes so much anger from him (he says I don't trust him, and that my control is making his depression worse), I am not sure the best way to go about doing it. I wonder if other parents have had a similar issue and if you have any advice. I would very much appreciate it!
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