Son doesn’t want to attend his HS graduation

This year has been bad for many so I won’t go into how my son has been through so much and whatnot. The bottom line is that he’s so jaded that as of yesterday he decided not to go to graduation. I’m typing this now because graduation practice is in a couple of hours and he has zero intention of going. It’s not a teenager bluffing. And I can’t exactly force a 6’2” boy into a car seat and just drive him there. Has anyone been through this? I figure even if he misses practice, graduation is in 3 weeks. Maybe there’s a way I can influence his thinking? I’ve reached out to his school counselor on several occasions to see if she can try to engage him and they respond but put forth the bare minimum. For additional context, my sons GPA this last fall semester was a 4.7. He now has a D, an F and the rest are C’s. He barely attends class (online) and his makeup work is perpetually late. He stays up all night and sleeps through his classes. He won’t tolerate a conversation — he gets reactive, explosive and just shuts me down. Clearly he’s in crisis from a mental health standpoint. He refuses to see a therapist now. At one point he said okay, I made the appointment, and he refused right before so I had to cancel. He said he’d consider a “coach” over the summer but won’t do the therapist thing. Do any therapists make house calls? I don’t know what to do. I just know he’ll regret succumbing to his current state to the point that he misses such an important milestone. 

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Goodness, I am so sorry to hear of your son't struggles and know they are not that uncommon right now. My only advice is to not focus on the graduation. Focus on getting his mental health back on track and moving forward. That's what matters. Graduation - honestly - just isn't important for some people. While I did attend my high school graduation, really, it is not a particularly cherished memory for me or anything like that. I went through the motions, graduated, and moved on with my life. I did NOT attend my college graduation, nor did I attend my graduations for my first or second MA or even my PhD graduation. I have no regrets about that - I just don't care about such ceremonies. They are important events for some and that's great. But not a big deal for others and so....Focus on what REALLY matters right now. Not a ceremony. But getting him healthy again. 

I'm sorry it's been such a hard year. You're in good company, sad to say. I'm sure you'll get a lot of advice suggesting that you forego any concern about your son not attending graduation. It's much more important for you to attune to what he's telling you than it is to force himself to go to an event for appearances sake or because he might regret it later. Something like: "After the challenging year we've all been, I can see why you just don't feel like celebrating in the way the school is offering to do it. I might feel that way, too. I do hope we can figure out a way to acknowledge the effort you put in for four years in some way at home--but we can talk about that later." Hopefully he'll have more graduations in his life to choose to join if he wants to. In terms of coaching, we used a wonderful mentor at Coyote Coast in Orinda who came to our home, but they fill up pretty quickly:  I also know a lot of parents really like EastGate Mentoring:

I am so so sorry...... my son (not a senior) has been in mental health crisis this year as well, and what you describe sounds very familiar. 
I would really focus on his mental health.... right now he’s in such a state of dysregulation that academics and graduation don’t mean anything to him. Once he’s doing better he may or may not regret not walking at graduation, but that’s minor in the grand scheme of things.
Reach out to more therapists (maybe ask him what he would want in someone?) and consider a psychiatrist as well? Some therapists may be doing in-person sessions, though I don’t know of any currently.

I hate to make recommendations that I know are not available (finding a good therapist or psychiatrist with availability right now is an arduous task to say the least), but perhaps if they don’t have availability they can recommend someone who does?

My son is being helped immensely by individual therapy and classes at Clearwater Counseling in Oakland. 
They would have some good psychiatrist recommendations as well. I know ours is not accepting new patients :(

Dear Mom, I'm so sorry to hear that things are tough with your son. I can imagine that you're going to receive lots of advice that you favor attuning to your son over trying to influence him to attend an event that doesn't presently have any meaning for him. Hopefully in his future, he will have more graduations to attend if he so chooses. But for now, helping to support your son's emotional state seems to be the highest priority. Our daughter worked with a great therapist coach (mentor) at Coyote Coast in Orinda. I think they fill up pretty quickly, but here's their website:  I know a lot of parents that have worked with East Gate Mentoring, who also make home visits:   I hope that you can get some help for your son and if you want to talk to other parents to get support, you could try joining a Family Sanity group on the third Thursday of the month or Willows in the Wind. They both announce on this site regularly, and many of us go there to get ideas, resources and just to be able to be in the company of other parents who are facing similar issues.

I am so sorry to hear your son and you are going through this. He sounds depressed, and he may benefit from not only therapy but an antidepressant medication at this point.  Not sure how you'd get him to go see a therapist and a psychiatrist, but you know what levers you can use with him. Don't worry about attending the graduation. It's just high school, and it's great that your son managed to graduate at all given the state he's in. My son was in clinical depression in his sophomore year, and we had to take him to crisis appointments several times which were helpful (he'd be almost lying down on a therapist's desk when he'd come in first and then manage to actually walk out of there standing straight after the appointment). The medication helped him almost immediately, although there were side effects and it retrospect we should have asked to try a different one.  Still, taking an antidepressant made it possible for my son to get back to life and living. Maybe your son would benefit from that as well.

I 100% agree with the other poster that the most important thing is to get his mental health sorted out.  Your son is right and teenagers, especially young men, respond better to mentoring than a sit down counselor.  Often these sessions will take place outdoors, walking, riding bikes, hiking.  Most of them are LMFTs or psychologists. You can try East Gate Mentoring and Samara Family Services.  They may not have space but they will refer you to someone who does.  There are a lot of people who do this who are in private practice.  I know there are groups that will send therapists into the home.  Get him to a doctor or mental health service to be assessed for anxiety/depression, if you can. 

Also, you didn't say if he has outside interests, a job, or what's the situation with his friends.  Does he get out of the house?  Do you know if he's using a lot of weed or other drugs?  That would be important to know too.  What are his plans for his future?  Will he be going to college, working, or taking some time off?  Hard to know what else to say since the only focus here is on academics.  Maybe he's just overwhelmed and needs to take a gap year before he jumps into the pressure cooker of college.  No rush.  He's got his whole life.  

I'm so sorry that your son and you are going through this. This is very hard. However, please stop worrying about graduation and worry instead about you son getting help for his depression. This sounds like a serious depression, and getting kids help if they are not interested is HARD. If he is not yet 18 you have a very small window to act. I agree, forcing isn't possible or effective but you need to get him some help. Perhaps he will speak to his doctor? An aunt or uncle? Someone needs to let him know that he doesn't need to feel this way and there is effective help out there for him.  Don't take no for an answer or let it slide. As for graduation -- I'd let that go. It matters little to some kids. 

I don’t know if this is helpful, but our daughter, who is younger, also wanted to stay up all night online, so we installed Gryphon Guardian, and now pause all devices by 9 or 10pm if they are still in use.  It gave us control to get her back on a good sleep schedule along with the help of a small dose of melatonin.  Best of luck to you!!