16 yr old son has low self esteem, confidence

by Alice
(Phoenix, Az)

My 16 yr old sons self esteem & confidence is low, lower than it should be. When Daniel was younger (grades K-8) he attended a very small private Lutheran school. Over the years there was anywhere from 8 to 15 kids in his class. Given the small class size and overall small school, choices were extremely limited when the time came that Daniel wanted a girl friend. He had a 'girl friend' in k-2nd grade but from 2nd grade to halfway through 7th grade the only girls in his class were the same 3 that had been there since kindergarden. They were all good buddies but none of them were girlfriends.

Halfway through 7th grade, a new girl started attending the same school. She was cute and Daniel liked her but she had a boyfriend. Daniel and her were friends and when she broke up with her boyfriend, Daniel asked her out. She strung him along for a while and Daniel kept pursuing her until one day he over heard the girl telling a mutual friend that she didn't really like Daniel, she was just using him. She later told Daniel that she was just joking, Daniel believed her only to be hurt by her over and over again. They never did go out.

Now during this time our family suffered a few tragedies. My eldest son, Daniel's big brother was killed when Daniel was almost 11. I became very depressed, spending a lot of time in bed and Daniel started suppressing his feelings. About a year and a half after Chris died, our house caught fire. It was a bad fire and our house almost burned to the ground. When we started to rebuild, the contractor embezzled roughly $80k and left us pretty much homeless. After the insurance stopped paying for a rental, we rented rooms from a family friend. Initially we were only going to be renting the rooms for 4-6 weeks. We were there 8 months. Overall it took us about 1.5 years from the date of the fire to move back home.

About 9 months after moving home, my elderly mom, who was in the late stages of Alzheimers, moved in with us so I could care for her. She was with us for a year before she passed away. There were a lot of good times during that year but there were also some extremely stressful times. The stress affected Daniel and myself as well as his brother Matthew, who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome at birth. Being Matthew's brother also has some of its own unique challenges for Daniel.

So, over the past 5 years Daniel has had to deal with more serious issues than any kid should ever have to deal with. He has dealt with the stress by keeping everything inside. I think that the combination of everything he has been through, combined with his lack of experience having a girl friend has resulted in Daniel having a pretty low self esteem and low self confidence. That as well as the fact that Daniel really has wanted a girl friend for a long time. He is a sensitive person and he's wanted that emotional bond with someone besides him mom.

What I've noticed over the past year or so, since he's been dating and started high school, looks to me to be co-dependent type behaviors. As an example, Daniel's girlfriend told him that she wanted to break up. Actually she's told him that a few times. Each time Daniel will spend the next 2 or 3 days texting and calling her, trying to convince her not to break up. If ever she is in a bad mood, Daniel worries its because of him. If she wants to spend lunch with her friends instead of with him, he was worries that she is mad at him. When they go out, he never really makes plans. Instead he says he doesn't care what they do, what ever she wants to do is fine. He never had that take charge attitude. Not to imply that what she wanted wasn't important, it was more like he doesn't want to make a wrong decision or upset her.

Through out Daniel's life I've told him how wonderful he is, how proud of him I am. I've always been a very active, involved parent. I was room mom k-8th grade and I volunteered for many school functions Unfortunately I can't say the same for his dad. We divorced when Daniel was in kindergarden and Daniel and Matthew would go to their dads every other weekend and on Wednesdays for dinner. But his dad didn't interact with them very much, they pretty much played video games. His dad never attended 1 school play or school carnival. He never went to any of the basketball games Daniel participated in. No school conferences, etc. Every year Daniel has a birthday party, his dad is always invited. He has come a couple of times but does not join the party, instead he stays inside and watches tv. Just before Daniel started high school, he told me that 1 day on the drive to dads house his dad gave him some condoms and made the comment that girls in high school were easy. That was it.

So I know that I've written a mini book. I apologize for that but I want to give as much info as I can so hopefully someone out there has some good ideas on how Daniel can improve his self esteem and gain more confidence. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

Comments for 16 yr old son has low self esteem, confidence

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16 year old has low self esteem
by: Anonymous

Your son has to realise that relationships may not last and he has to accept that. There is nothing wrong with him, it is just that nothing has jelled. Later on he will look back and he will know that somehow along the line, the right person will come along for him. He can only try but people come and go during our lifetimes, they are there for a while and then they fade out. The girl who may appeal to him for now may not be right for him for a permanent relationship.
He has been through a lot with all that has happened in your family, maybe some sort of counselling would help him to get his feelings sorted out and he needs to take up some hobby or outlet that will enable him to meet other people.
We all strike bad experiences with other people who leave us devastated when they let us down We just have to acknowledge that they are not right for us and that there is not enough in common. You tell him that one day someone will come into his life and be right for him.

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