Father Concerned About His Daughter In College Who Hasn't Made A Friend Since Middle School Solicits Advice
We all want our children to succeed and it hurts to see them struggle. Especially through difficult and transitionary periods in life. We want the best for our kids.
u/_sad_dad_ is one such struggling parent. He told us about his daughter and asked for some advice:
Me [60 M] with my daughter [19 F], she hasn't had a single friend since middle school and I am starting to get worried
Hi, I hope this is the right subreddit to post in. I browse reddit occasionally, but this is my first time posting.
I'll get right to the point: my daughter "Mia" has not made a single friend since middle school, and she is now entering her sophomore year of college. Before you ask, no it is not by choice. but I'll talk about that later.
"Mia" was very popular in middle school, she went out with friends every other day and attended a lot of parties. Ultimately, it got out of hand. Mia was drinking a lot, and while I drank a little underage, she was out of control. She never did hard drugs, but some of her friends did. When one of them OD'd, it was a wake up call for Mia and she got her act together. Unfortunately, this meant cutting out all of her former friends, and she entered high school alone.
Now I don't know what went on in high school, if she was bullied or just ignored, but she came home almost every day because she had to eat lunch and do projects by herself. This broke my heart. Mia is a very sweet girl, but she can come off as shy and perhaps a little odd at times. She claims she put herself out there a lot, but still, no friends to speak of. No birthday parties, no after school hangouts, no facebook friends.
I was convinced that when she entered college things would change, but when we talk, she still cries and says she is alone, and that her coworkers exclude her whenever they go out after work.
I am worried for my daughter. She is very intelligent, pretty, and kind, but obviously something is going wrong here? She has a therapist already but what she needs is a friend and I don't know what I can do as her father. I am her only family, and I'm getting old now. What happens when I'm gone?
tl;dr: My daughter has no friends (I'm not sure why), it is upsetting her but I don't know what I can do to help.
Here were some of the answers and replies he got.
Damn. That's heartbreaking. The best thing I think you can do for her is to keep encouraging her therapy and joining social activities or even online communities and putting herself out there. And just keep loving her and being a listening ear. She doesn't have to be the belle of the ball, even one friend can be the One who changes everything, and that could happen at any time.
If Mia was popular during her party years, perhaps she didn't learn how to make/keep friends without the social lubricant of alcohol. As someone else suggested, joining clubs is great for meeting new people. I also wanted to add that it might help her if she could practice her social skills and connecting with other people in a low pressure situation. Volunteering at a retirement center can be great for this. You meet interesting people who are usually eager to have someone to talk to.
This is not meant to make your daughter out to be unusual. I have always had some friends, but I am socially awkward and at 19 had a lot of people shun me because I don't drink. A lot of socializing went on at parties where drugs and alcohol were present. It is very likely that Mia doesn't do those things because of what happened to her friends. If she is uncomfortable/unwilling to be part of those groups, then she is going to be excluded from going out with co-workers.
I don't drink or do drugs. So I went through HS not going to parties because of how things were. It will get better as people age, but 19 to 21 tend to be the "party ages" for a lot of teens. What I did was find friends who agreed with my lifestyle choices. If she is in college, then she should look for clubs that allow her to meet with people who share her interests (christian groups are sometimes good for this.) She just needs to look for people who share her interests, not expect everyone else to just like her. Which sucks.
I'm not sure what country you're in, but I would suggest looking into mentoring services (like Big Brothers Big Sisters). I worked for a similar organisation here in Australia and we had quite a lot of young people your daughters age who had been in similar situations and needed a friend. It's a really great way for her to be matched up with somebody who has a similar personality/interests to her and, at least when I did it, isn't unusual for people her age to do (especially when they've gone through what she went through as a young person).
It's usually quite a supported friendship and if your daughter has any concerns or issues on the way (cold feet, not sure how to relate, anxiety) you'll have a worker who is experienced with this stuff that will check in with her and help with that kind of thing. She should fit into the age bracket (she would here in Aus). I would highly recommend it! Lots of people her age do it and if she has a preference for the age of her new mate then she can indicate that kind of thing :)
Using my own experience, my advice would be that perhaps she could join a website/forum dedicated to something she's interested in and make some friends there?
I only say this because I'm 22 and I don't have many "real life" friends. Let's see.. One friend from high school and a few from my old workplace. I started uni at the start of this year and haven't made a single friend there yet, so I can definitely understand how she feels.
Having said that, I joined a gaming forum 5-6 years ago, and although the website has now dissipated, I made a number of strong friendships through it - I even met my now boyfriend there (friends for three years then started dating, going on two years now!) and I've made friends on online games and tumblr groups as well. She might not be into that kind of thing but I thought I'd share! I wish her well ☺️
I have a really hard time making friends. I have a handful, now, that are good, close friends...buuut they all live on the other side of the country. I was moving for grad school, though, and everybody told me I was so lucky, I'd be surrounded by all of these like-minded people and I'd make tons of friends.
I ended up using Bumble BFF to try and at least get chatting with a few girls in the area, and I ended up making two friends. One of them I see sporadically because she's really busy (but I'm seeing her today!). The other one knits once a week with a handful of different girls, and now I'm one of them. So I know that once a week, I get to see a group of girls, and I'm working on befriending more than just the original girl. It's hard, though. I have a hard time building up the individual relationships and making them actual friends instead of just my knitting group, but so far it's going okay.
Is your daughter artsy or craftsy at all? I find those communities of women are usually really awesome/welcoming/inviting and tend to be super friendly and encouraging with new people. It takes a while of just going to the craft days or whatever before you actually start to form the individual relationships, but it comes with time. Does your daughter have realistic expectations about how relationships are formed? I don't really drink, either, and it's hard to pace a relationship when you're only meeting up sober vs. when you're all drunk and giggling and spilling stories and doing "exciting" things.
Will she let you talk to her therapist?
Is she painfully shy?
Unfortunately a lot of kids her age WAIT for someone else to do the work of starting a friendship-so it just never happens.
Does she do anything besides go to classes-yoga/volunteering/anything? would she be willing to ask one or a few other group members to go for coffee after? She is going to need to start doing this if she wants friends.
Is she in any study groups-ask her group to go out for pizza after an exam. If she is not in a group had her start one-she can ask the people who sit next to her or on a fb page if the class has a fb page.
SO may kids wait for someone else to take th initiative-their reasoning is 'if they were interested THEY would ask me' so they are afraid of rejection if they reach out.
Result-a bunch of lonely kids all wishing someone else would see if they want to get coffee
Is she at all into science fiction/fantasy? If so, encourage her to join the college's science fiction club (assuming there is one). It's a home for misfits and socially awkward people (I say that as both a nerd and former sci-fi club member myself). In my experience nerds are very accepting and, if she's willing to just keep showing up, she will make friends.
If not sci-fi, then check out other clubs. At larger colleges/universities, it's very difficult to make friends. College clubs, which force interaction, can be a huge help.
I did not have very many friends in school. In fact I had one and in retrospect we were friends because we had nobody else to be friends with. We would read in the library next to each other and that made us best friends. My mother worried endlessly why I was friendless and she kept trying to push me into having more friends. This was if anything counter producing as I just felt like everyone knew I had no friends and therefore I got more awkward and shy and weird and people were probably like "thanks but no thanks".
For me the big change came in university where I suddenly had many more like minded people around me and I did make a lot of friends then. You say your daughter is in college and still struggling... does she have many hobbies? My hobbies certainly helped me and I picked up a bunch of new ones... is there anything that interests her but she has never tried?
I joined a roller derby team at some point and I have a lot of friends through there... does she like skating? Most cities have them and they are a great resource for people who are maybe a little different. It is very community based and fun, people of all walks of life find themselves there, often having been on the outskirts a bit and trying to find somewhere to fit in. I really highly recommend it. Most Fresh Meat programs take absolute beginners!
I had trouble making friends in college because I didn't know how to talk to strangers/random classmates. Then I joined the gaming club and I had an instant friend group of people that I could easily talk to because we had similar interests. I have a lot of friends now, but hey, I still am not friends with any of my coworkers because they tend to have very different interests from me. Encourage her to join a club and find people who may have things in common with her. I'm happy to speak with her directly if she could use a friend, I'm only 23 so my college experience was pretty recent.
Sometimes you just don't have any money and you have to make it work. I learned how to make the most out of bargains at the grocery store and know how to make food that is hearty and will last more than a day or two. Beans and rice are your friends, by the way. You'd be surprised by how many delicious meals you can make with just these two basic ingredients.
Being poor requires you to be creative.
Penny pinching is an art, as we were so deftly reminded after Redditor naranja_cheese asked the online community,
"What is the most penny pinching you've ever done?"
"I used to steal..."
"I used to steal half-used rolls of tp when I was a janitor. Lived off white rice and Worcestershire sauce for months. Got a job as a cook & always saved a few scraps while plating people's food so I would have something to eat without paying for a meal. Also worked at a butcher shop& would take home bones to roast and make a stew with. I can share hundreds of things like this."
"I worked part-time..."
"I worked part-time in school, but was pretty broke. I wasn't being paid until the following day, and I needed soy sauce for my extra super tasty stir fry. I literally had negative funds in my account. So I went to the grocery store, grabbed a sushi tray, threw a ton of packets of soy sauce in my pocket (they don't charge you for these), wandered a bit, pretended I changed my mind, and left."
"While at the grocery store..."
"While at the grocery store, putting back that pack of chicken breast that cost $2.98 for the other pack of chicken breast that cost $2.95."
"Things were insanely tight..."
"Used to make my own laundry detergent during a time when we had relocated and our prior home had not sold so we had rent on top of a mortgage for 18 months. Things were insanely tight in those days, to say the least."
I definitely know what this is like.
"I took some cedar boards..."
"I had no money for Christmas gifts. I only had enough to pay rent. I took some cedar boards in the backyard, cut them, burnt them a little black as I had no money to finish them. Then I passed them off as cutting boards."
"One Friday night..."
"One Friday night in college, my two buddies and I had a grand total of $3 to our names. I bought a box of Mac 'n Cheese, a can(!) of escargot, and three Lil' Debbie Star Crunches. We had a full meal with starch, protein, and dessert."
"I lived on pasta..."
"When I was at university my entire budget was less than £40 a week. I lived on pasta and stolen sauce packets from the Students Union. The cafeteria ladies would always take pity on me at closing time and give me free burgers."
"I lost my job..."
"I lost my job and lived in a $1400/month apartment where electricity (which included heat) and internet were ludicrously expensive. $400-450 a month in the winter because the building was an old mill with huge windows and no insulation. Fortunately, gas and water were free."
"I only turned on my lights when I had to, turned off the heat entirely, and heated my apartment by boiling a huge pot of water on the gas stove 24 hours a day and going to the business center to use the free DSL connection to apply for jobs. I ate rice with frozen vegetables and spices for three months."
"It sucked, but I got by."
Hopefully things are much better now.
"If I ate fast food..."
"If I ate fast food or takeout food, I would ask for extra sauce packets or garnishes that they give out for free. I would stock up on them, use them when I cook instead of buying the stuff from the store. For example, a $1 box of pasta, a clove of garlic, and 2-3 ramekins of parm cheese, half ramekin of chili flakes, and a pinch of Italian herbs I got from a pizza place makes a quick meal."
"My local mall..."
"My local mall used to do paid surveys, you'd watch a video or try some new soda or whatever and they'd give you a couple of dollars. Then I'd use that to buy a meal."
Sometimes you've just gotta do what you've gotta do. It's not easy.
Have some stories of your own? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments below!
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Now, this isn't going to be a long, "Let's all pile on how bad the internet is and only think about the good ol' days when the rocks were soft and we could only communicate using cans with string."
People old enough to remember life pre-Internet, what are some less obvious things you miss about that time?
Many habits we used to possess were made completely irrelevant thanks to the internet. Not that we didn't enjoy doing them, we just started asking ourselves, "What's the point?"
Completely Devoid Of Technological Interference
"Leaving home and just being gone for the day. No cell phones. If there were cameras, it was really different. You used them to take pictures of things or had people take pictures of you. But there was no social media to preoccupy your mind. It was just doing something. And whoever you were with, was who you were with."
No One Needs 24 Hours Of Nonsense
"News only being on at 6pm. That was it. Now we have 6 hours of local news and 24 hours of cable news. Not being bombarded all day with "news." And when you saw "Breaking News" on the screen you knew something serious went down."
You Mean We Actually Have To Go?
"It used to be a lot harder to bail on things. You'd have to call the person at home and tell them yourself, or at least leave a message if you wanted to be risky. Typically if you were gonna bail you'd give at least 24 hours notice. Nowadays people can let you know they're bailing last second since you're always reachable."
"RSVPing mattered. If you said you were going to be there, you made sure to be there. None of this facebook invites that everyone blows off without any form of social repercussions. If you said you were going to go and didn't go, you were the a--hole and everyone knew it."
You can get almost anything on the internet. Almost. Still no sign of real working Lightsabers anywhere out there, but the internet has eliminated many of our purchasing practices.
Just In Time For The Holidays!
"The Sears catalog. That was how I found out about all the cool new toys."
"Catalogs in general, for me. Before the internet made mindless browsing of stuff you didn't need ~really~ easy to do, we still liked doing this without having to drive to the mall. The solution? Sign your mom up for those cool seed catalogs, those not safe to browse at the office gag gift catalogs and then everything in between. That stuff was really nice to have when you grew up somewhere that was not even cable ready."
1 Good Song Out Of 15
"When you bought new music you just had to hope it was good. The single might be popular but otherwise unless someone had it you just bought it and hoped for the best."
"There was so much excitement to going to a cd store to buy an album that you only knew one song of or the band/artist name and just listening to that entire cd over and over again picking out which tracks were your favorite while still learning every lyric to all the songs on the album.
Building a cd collection was also fun."
Talk About The "Immediate Gratification" Generation, Huh?
"The instant win bottle caps / candy / chocolate bar wrappers where you could turn them back into the store and immediately get a free one. Now it's just codes you have to register on their website so they can get your info, i don't even bother anymore."
Finally, there's these activities, to difficult to explain to anyone who wasn't there. How do you get someone to understand that not having a supercomputer in your pocket at all hours of the day radically changed your life?
Keeping It In Front Of You
"I miss having an attention span of more than three seconds"
"It's so weird. I can only vaguely remember what it feels like to not have a smartphone and to be alone and think.
Wondering what my friends are doing and if they'd like to do something on the weekend. We'd have to talk during lunch break at school and plan it...
Trying to find the answer to a math problem... Having to figure it out by re-reading the problem and explanations 5 times."
There Used To Be A Time When You Couldn't Play Everything
"Not being overwhelmed by choice.
Don't get me wrong, having nearly every form of media downloadable is great, but back in the day, i rented a video game and i played that video game as much as i could.
Now, its hard to give it more than 2 seconds before i try one of the 20,000 games i have access to.
New game plus used to be cool. Now, I'm happy if just beat the game"
Floundering. Just A Little.
"My formative years were the 1980s. I remember like yesterday going to study in Paris my junior year of college. I got off the plane with no cell phone, no internet, a Let's Go Paris book, and just a hostel address written on a piece of paper I'd stuck in a French dictionary. I did not know a single person in all of France.
I had $500 of cash stuck in a money belt. The belt was tight and sweaty but that money had to last me for at least a month until I could find a part-time job with my lousy French. My "credit card" was my father's credit card numbers written down on a piece of paper. He told me I could only use it to buy a plane ticket home in an emergency.
I remember standing in the airport and having this powerful emotion of being 21 years old, scared sh-tless, but in absolutely completely control of my own destiny. There was absolutely nobody who could come rushing to my aid if I needed it. I was 100% on my own.
I'm actually very thankful for that experience. I found the hostel. I found a job. I made friends. I learned French. I made it all on my own which was just a big boost in life confidence.
I have no doubt if I'd had a cell phone I would've called my parents on Day 2, told them it was too hard, and been on the next plane home. But I had no other choice but to succeed."
We can never go back. Not really, anyway. The only way is to keep going forward, be aware of the effect the internet has on us, and do our best to not let it take away the things that really matter in our lives.
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Look, unless you enjoy cooking, no one likes spending time in the kitchen longer than they have to in order to whip up something mediocre to eat.
Ordering food or, for the time being, enjoying a socially distanced lunch at an establishment is convenient, but it can take a toll on your wallet.
So what options are there?
Fortunately, there are plenty of them that do not involve nuking a frozen entree.
"What's your go-to under 5 minute meal?"
These dinner selections are super sufficient.
A Loaded Course
"Two hotdogs and a side of judgement from my fiancé"
In Case You Didn't Know
"Quesadilla. super quick and easy to make and there's a ton of ingredients that you can add without much effort that will make it even better."
"Ramen and an egg, but not the traditional way."
- "Boil roughly half an inch of water (we want just enough water to boil the noodles, with very little water left over when it's done boiling)."
- "Smash up the ramen noodles, while still in the package (optional but cooks MUCH faster)."
- "Open the package and remove the seasoning."
- "Dump the noodles in."
- "While boiling, crack an egg and whisk in a small bowl."
- "Noodles should be done and almost all the water should be gone, if not strain out some.
- Remove from the heat."
- "Slowly pour in the egg while mixing very quickly, try not to let the egg touch the pan."
- "Mix as much of the seasoning packet as you like (I prefer 1/2 - 3/4 because I usually add a salty component at the end.)"
- "Add to bowl and top with some chives, thinly sliced, ripped up ham/salami and/or parsley. Leftover bacon or pancetta are fantastic crunchy components to dial up the texture."
"Easy, fast and checks so many of the 'munchie' boxes for me."
Don't Underestimate Soups
"Tomato soup and add tortellini. I like the spinach ones from Trader Joe's and Progreso creamy tomato with basil. It's bomb and it really makes a decent meal."
For people in a rush, these tasty snacks would suffice.
Goes Well With Veggies And Cheese
"Hummus is such an underrated food. It goes well with a lot of veggies and breads and chips or heck even cheese. All the time I hear hummus being listed as one of those weird, gross foods when its actually an amazing snack, or a meal if done correctly. It's not really unhealthy, either, especially if eaten with veggies (celery and carrots go great with hummus)."
Ready In Seconds
"All I do is get a paper towel, and put 5 Oreos on it."
"Then go back and get the whole package."
Peanut Butter Fantasies
"Peanut butter sandwich."
"If I'm feeling extra froggy I'll add nutella to the peanut butter and honey sandwich and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Goes down about as well as a popeye's biscuit though."
"It's like cheating the system. You eat sweets and call it healthy."
Start your day without all the hassle of a fancy breakfast.
Put It In A Bowl
"Oatmeal or cereal."
"Cereal is definitely underrated as a meal outside of the breakfast dynamic."
"A very simple recipe my grandma prepared for me when i was a kid."
"It's basically scrambled eggs...but before adding the egg she would cook sweetcorn (from a can) with a little bit of butter, add the eggs and then when the eggs were almost ready, add small cubes of cheese and cook for a minute or until the cheese start to melt (she was using fontal, but any swiss or white cheddar will do). Just a little black pepper and salt."
"Takes 5 minutes to do but it's absolutely delicious, fill you up, not so unhealthy and I feel my late grandma with me."
'I tried variations with chives or spring onions, paprika or other stuff. Still good but nothing as good as a simple "uova strapazzate con mais e formaggio.'"
I consider yogurt a healthy snack/lunch option.
I like having a bowl of non-fat plain Greek yogurt with raspberries, blueberries, sprinkled with granola and drizzled with honey.
It's packed with nutrients and gives me a nice boost of energy.
Yogurt also makes for a perfect chip dip. I sprinkle some onion soup mix and stir in the mixture. Who knew quick and easy food prep could be so delicious?
We all like to assume that a big old scar has an amazing, hardcore story behind it: maybe a valiant fight or some life threatening-escape.
But despite what Hollywood would have us think, that is so rarely the case.
Usually, some kind of bizarre accident leaves us with the biggest scar of our life. There's no action movie story behind it, just a careful mixture of foolishness and bad luck.
Clearly not put off by some gruesome anecdotes, Redditor fluffybear45 asked:
"People with scars, how did you get them?"
For many, it was the wild antics of childhood that left them slightly maimed. With many years now separating the Redditor from the event, these were pretty hilarious.
Out of Nowhere!
"I was playing on a swing and then my leg got stuck in barbed wire." -- Soviet_God-Emperor
"I feel like we missed a couple steps here, or your local park had some serious issues." -- Henfrid
"Yo that went from 0 to 100 real fast" -- IHaveButt
"2nd grade, defective slip-n-slide." -- AdmiralAkbar1
"I'm pretty sure the general design of the slip'n'slide was defective. Those stakes weren't covered originally, so you had to be straight down the middle of the slide or else....." -- Q-burt
"Could you refer to this incident in a gravely voice while staring into the middle distance, pausing only to shudder and sip your scotch?" -- CaptValentine
That's Why You Need an Axe Yard
"My dad hit me with an axe (bladed side) in the face. Stupid 10 yo me just had to look over his shoulder while he was hammering in herrings for our tent."
Others talked about freak accidents that came not from the stupidity of childhood, but the bad luck of mistakes made as an adult.
Bad Conditions for Practice
"Dad gave me a folding knife for Christmas"
"I read online that you could flick it open with one hand"
"So I practiced it, after my hands were greasy from eating a burger"
Take Your Pick
"Multiple long scars on my back are from falling onto a old soviet steel welcome mat ( i dont know how to describe it in english but its meant to wipe dirt of your shoes with triangle shaped steel beams."
"Medium sized one on my forearm is from a barbed wire fence, another one next to it is from a motorcycle accident and one on the base on my thumb is from a cars hood slipping and cutting me."
One Heck Of a Fall
" 'This one is from a skateboard, this one was a truck accident, and this one was a fire hydrant.' "
" 'Oh really? I bet each one has a very unique story.' "
" 'Not really, I skateboarded off of a truck into a fire hydrant.' "
Last, some people talked about the medical procedures that left them with the big gash. These stories had some ninth grade words and not nearly as much stupidity.
"A rare auto immune disorder called pyoderma gangrenosum twice... Don't google If you don't like gore... I had to have daily wound care and high doses of medical steroids"
"My intestines telescoped on themselves 8" scar on my belly." -- Anom8675309
"I never wanted to see the words 'intestines' and 'telescoped' together. Ouch." -- LadySygerrik
"I was born 2 months premature. I wasn't born with an esophagus so drs. cut my stomach open and used parts of my colon or intestines and created a new one for me. I have a huge scar on my neck and my stomach is one big scar. Also had a stomach feeding tube for quite a bit and heart surgery at 2 days old."
"I love science. I wouldn't have experienced life if it hadn't been for advances in medical science."
So if you've been sitting on an embarrassing backstory for one of your scars, feel free to share. You're hardly alone.
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