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.
It's easy to get caught up in the past.
...so long as we knew what time of day it was going to be on.
What's something nostalgic for your age group?
Video games today are horrible!
Give us a 2-dimensional side-scroller of an Italian plumber fighting a dragon monster and nothing else good for many more years after that. Who needs all these fantastic releases, year in and year out, every year?
How Do We Enable "Big Head Mode?"
"Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a, select, start"
"My toddler son has a toy game controller that plays a little jingle if you put this code in. I loved that they put that little Easter egg into a kids toy and it makes my husband smile every time he does it."
When Was This Old? *cries in tired old man
"Anytime recently I've tried to get back into Minecraft it breaks my heart because the game just feels so different now. I played it from 2010 up until 2018 or 19 almost religiously, but the past couple years have really changed the game. I'm sure it's just as fun to play now, but it doesn't have that same nostalgia factor anymore like it used to."
Tests Of Parenthood
"Neopets in 2005"
"My girlfriend at the time made me take care of one as a test for being a father. Literally."
Some things you long for aren't actually possible to do anymore, leading to the reasoning this is why the nostalgia is at an all-time high. What's worse than missing something that no longer exists?
The Smell, The Sounds, The Sights, The Ambience
"Going to Blockbuster with my friends on a Friday"
"Renting cheesy horror movies and making fun of them with the group!"
You Can Miss That?
"Dial up modem noises"
"Kiiiiiiiiiiii…kiiuuuu…kiiiuuuu.. it was something like that right? I even forgot."
"And then I used to open yahoo login page and do some other work for few minutes and come back while it loads, and then enter id password, hit login and then get a coffee until it loads."
Illegal, But, Yeah
"I remember the really early days of mp3 sharing, before P2P came along. There were hundreds of FTP servers that you could connect to with huge libraries of mp3s. No domain name, just a raw IP address that you found somewhere on usenet."
"But they couldn't just give it away, because then everyone would take and nobody would give. So they had quota systems: you'd upload an mp3, and for every byte you uploaded, you'd get to download 2, or 3, or maybe even 5. And this was over dialup, so uploading or downloading a single file could take 30 minutes."
"But it was FTP. Very simple and dumb. There was no memory of your "credits" between sessions, so if you uploaded a bunch of stuff and then lost your connection, you were SOL."
"It amazes me to think how much time I spent getting a few songs that today I can play any time I want on Spotify."
For some people, this next section will sound silly.
For others, this was our childhood, which sadly (when you really think about it) revolved around a television schedule we had no input on, meaning we had to plan everything out around when the next episode of Power Rangers aired.
Cartoons After School Are The Best
"Anime on Toonami. Cartoon Cartoon Fridays"
"Toonami had really great western cartoons as well. I loved watching Samurai Jack, Ben 10, Teen Titans, and Clone Wars on Toonami growing up."
"Old Cartoon Network, spiky gelled hair"
"Old Cartoon Network" is an interesting answer because people are gonna have different ideas about what "Old Cartoon Network" is. I think of Ed, Edd n Eddy and Codename: Kids Next Door. Another commenter mentioned Gumball which is still well after my time."
When Life Revolved Around Someone Else's Schedule
"Born in the 70s, grew up in the 80s...I remember huddling around the TV as a family to watch certain things."
"For some reason, they would show The Wizard of Oz every year on network tv..and it was a big deal. My mom would make popcorn...in a pot on the stove (It was the 80's) and we'd sit on a blanket on the floor and watch."
Or Friday Nights....Dukes of Hazzard (when it was new). Mom would get takeout from Burger Chef...and we'd sit on the floor eating hamburgers watching 'dem Duke Boys at it again."
"Or in the summer....they'd show Creature from the Black Lagoon 3D on tv. 7-11 would give out free 3-D glasses."
"For the younger Redditors....this was well before any kind of streaming/on demand service...and back when cable TV and VCRs were still a luxury that a lot of people didn't have. So, you really only got to watch what was on the few channels that your antenna allowed."
"Another one is coming home from school to watch old shows like Gilligan's Island, The Munsters, The Addams Family, Batman, F-Troop."
"Or staying up late and at midnight....the TV would play the National Anthem....then show a control screen and just "BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP" like this: https://youtu.be/Cnchea6LHN0"
The good ol' days.
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When determining how to spend our life in a way that feels worthy, many place a heavy emphasis on experiences. We want to die with scars and stories.
And sticking our necks out inevitably leads to a whole lot of struggle. But that doesn't mean we wouldn't do the same thing the very next day if we could go back.
Some things, though we'll never do them again, were too important an experience to pass up.
Redditor JackIrishJack asked:
"What should you do once, but not twice?"
Many people talked about the life experiences, big and small, that influenced their outlook. They recommend people go through some discomfort to gain important awareness.
A Capacity for Empathy
"Working in the food industry I feel like everybody should do it once so they can have a respect for food workers but it's also a hell I never want to go through again"
Paying for a Daydream
"Buy a lottery ticket"
"You're not going to win, but buying a lottery ticket gives you the chance to dream and pretend. Having a second lottery ticket isn't going to make your dreams more vivid."
Plenty of Implications
"Visit Auschwitz. I firmly believe everyone should go visit it so as to not forget what humans are capable of doing to each other. But no need to visit twice. Once was enough for me."
Others brought up things which, if done twice, would be a sure sign that something is very very wrong.
Supposed To Be Permanent
"Learning how to walk. The first time - good on you. Having to
relearn a second time means something went terribly wrong."
Only Two Sets
"Lose all of your teeth" -- Outrageous_Cream_112
"Haha I had to think about this for a second" -- ApplesauceDoctr
Don't Wanna Find Yourself There Too Often
"Get beaten half to death breaks the concepts of your limits. Second time breaks the spirit. Third time is overkill."
Others apparently viewed the question as an opportunity for a little cleverness.
If You're Good
"Cut...you measure twice before." -- wxguy215
"For me its more like 'measure twice, make sure it's just a teeny bit too long then go back and shave it off little by little until it wedges in perfectly' " -- pistpuncher3000
As the Saying Goes
"Fool me" -- Thia_suzieUzi
"FOOL ME THREE TIMES FU** THE PEACE SIGN LOAD THE CHOPPA LET IT RAIN ON YOU" -- nixusthegod
Only a Couple to Work With
"Donate a kidney" -- RealisticDelusions77
"Donate one kidney, you're a hero. Donate two kidneys, you're a corpse. Donate three kidneys, you're a felon." -- Drach88
"Be born. Going through the birthing process again would probably kill my mother." -- cylonrobot
Here's hoping we can all find the healthy balance between living a full, experienced life and punishing ourselves a little too much.
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Whenever I visit clothing stores, I make it a point to fold the clothes I unfurl. That is apparently my downfall as a customer.
Because of this, fellow customers often peg me as an employee and always ask me questions like where the bathroom is, or if the store has certain sizes left in stock.
Umm, no, I don't work here. I'm just a responsible customer. As you were.
Many of us make assumptions about other people just by looking at them. Who knew we were so presumptuous?
Curious to hear the experiences of strangers online, Redditor lilmizzvalz asked:
"What do people assume about you, based on your appearance?"
People often misinterpret moods based on how someone looks. That's unfair, wouldn't you say?
"That I'm caring and supportive. I have a resting nice face."
"That I am always mad. Nope just dissociating and staring off into space."
Not Meaning To Be Mean
"That I'm mean. I have a resting mean face for a dude I guess. Also lately it's worse because I'm bigger now. I don't really notice how my face appears but apparently, I seem angry when I'm looking at stuff."
"'You should smile' and 'are you ok?' comments followed me from busboy, waiter, bartender my whole career."
When it comes to measuring intelligence of others, some people are just way off.
Hard To Live Up To Expectations
"That I'm clever. People keep saying it to me, but I'm dumb and that sh*t is hard to live up to."
"I have glasses."
Eyes Full Of Wisdom
"I apparently have something similar going on mixed with looking like I know sh*t, because people come up to me in public and ask about directions, bus schedules and stuff all the time. Like, they'll deliberately avoid other people to ask me. Including when I'm abroad and should look a bit out of place."
"They assume I have an intellectual disability. (And also that I'm deaf, since I'm not able to speak.)"
"No, I am a person with two university degrees who happen to need a wheelchair because of a nasty neurological illness."
People don't always look their age. Some don't even act their age. But these Redditors have gotten their fair share of wrong guesses for their ages.
"That I'm 15."
"I'm 38 and a doctor. 'Did you just finish school?' EVERY DAY."
"This thread was depressing to read as I am 38 but often get mistaken for 50. I hate y'all and your youthful beauty."
Some people are typed out as certain types of people with just one look.
Watch Your Tone
"That I have a southern accent. Not one stranger has ever suspected that I have a 'New Jersey' accent (Born and raised in New Jersey before moving south)"
Not A Biker
"That I ride a Harley and/or work on them. I'm bald with a long goatee and tons of tattoos, but I'm in IT for a living and don't ride motorcycles at all."
Like others have expressed in the thread, I've also been accused of having "resting b*tch face."
You know, that neutral expression where you're not smiling the one time you're not in a situation where you have to be "on" for other people?
Yeah, that one.
If someone's resting face comes across as unfriendly, well, perhaps it's best not to upset them by asking them what's wrong all the time. Just sayin'.
Ideally, a teacher should take the job because of a genuine interest in helping students, furthering their education as well as their self-development. Of course, it's not as simple as that (administrative issues aside). Unfortunately, there are some teachers out there who aren't cut out for the job––and they even have a mean streak when it comes to their students. The effects this can have on the learning process are dire.
Teachers don't get paid well, and they're well aware. Many stick with the job because they have a passion for teaching; many others stick with the job because of the position of inscrutable authority it offers them over helpless students.
People shared their experiences after Redditor Ara-Rat asked the online community,
"What did your teacher do that made you call them 'the worst teacher ever'?"
"Questioned 5th-grade teacher's manner of pluralizing a word on the board. Got sent to the library to look it up in a dictionary and report my findings to the class.
Decades later and I'm still mad at that woman for trying to publicly humiliate a ten-year-old student."
That's awful. What is with adults who try to deliberately an example out of children?
"My old band teacher..."
"My old band teacher threw a projector at his students. He left the district later that year."
That was... probably for the best, when you think about it. (I had a teacher who threw a girl's pencil case out the window when she wouldn't stop talking; no, he was not fired.)
"My 3rd-grade teacher..."
"My 3rd-grade teacher got frustrated with a kid's stutter and started pounding the kid's desk with a closed fist while mocking his stutter."
Hopefully this teacher was disciplined and/or fired. That's the sort of behavior that thankfully would not fly today––it would go viral so fast.
"The worst were the teachers..."
"The worst were the teachers who would take books away from me and hold me up for ridicule because they disagreed or didn't approve of the genre or subject material. I was always into science fiction and horror genre's and many of them didn't consider it true literature worthy of reading. I remember my father getting into it with one of the teachers who disapproved of Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, to which he pointed out it was on the required reading list of a lot of major universities. Dad was awesome like that, and chewed the teacher and principal out for having the temerity to try to stop any student who wanted to read, regardless of what the genre was."
Teachers who mock students for reading are the worst. Reading is one of the best things any student can do––there are so many benefits! Hopefully you have not lost your love of reading.
"When I'd instinctively try..."
"She tied me to my chair. I was hyperactive, and also 5. She would also hold my hand during formation in the mornings and squeeze so hard my tiny knuckles would crack. When I'd instinctively try to pull my hand away, she'd hold onto it and smile at me and ask me if it hurt."
The abuse here is almost incomprehensible. But it happens: a few years ago, a teacher made headlines for hanging a student by his coat on a coatrack. You can bet there were lawsuits.
"I was in the only dress I owned..."
"Tried to get me suspended for a dress code violation when I was 15. I was in the only dress I owned at the time because I was going to my best friend's funeral. She'd committed suicide two days before. I was crying and begging her to just let me stay till my mom picked up my remaining friends to go to the funeral. Said teacher then took me to the office and I had to sit in the front office under a tarp until my mom picked me up."
"My 8th grade English teacher..."
"My 8th grade English teacher never published grades and every time I'd ask her about it she'd answer with, "I don't know, what do you think it is?"
IF I KNEW WOULD I BE ASKING?!"
I've had a few teachers like this. Makes one wonder: Are you actually grading anything? WHAT are you doing, exactly?
"My biology teacher..."
"My biology teacher took my yearbook away right before the summer break. I didn't put it away in time.
That year my parents divorced and I was moving away. I told her this after class and she didn't care. She kept it until the last day. I didn't get any signatures.
Ended up throwing it away. What a witch."
"My university lecturer..."
"My university lecturer was the most incompetent bloke I've ever met. He taught I.T and for the life of me, I can't figure out how he got that job.
- In the first lesson, he got us to sign up to Twitter so we could share lesson content, tweet at each other so we'd get to know one another, and also tweet him. Everybody, including the lecturer, used Twitter once. We just used the university intranet to share stuff.
- Again, during the first lesson, he announced he was going on holiday for four weeks during our first term.
- All of his lessons were PowerPoint presentations, each slide had about a paragraph of text written on them which he would read out loud while awkwardly looking over his shoulder. Once he was done doing that he would essentially repeat what he had just said.
- One day he asked us for help in booking his airline tickets online because he couldn't figure out how to use the website.
As sad as these stories are, consider that these teachers are very much the exception to the rule. The majority of the teachers I have known over the years genuinely care for their students, work tirelessly on their lesson plans, and would never tolerate a single moment of the behavior featured here. Thank you to those teachers for doing their jobs––we appreciate you. (And ya'll deserve a raise, it's honestly messed up how little lawmakers understand about how hard your jobs actually are.)
Have some stories of your own? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments section below!
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