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.
The world is a big and fascinating place.
What do you genuinely not understand??
Sometimes what you don't understand isn't that crazy of an idea, but it still doesn't make any sense to you.
"Why can I never find my shoes?" for example.
It's A Skill All Mother's Attain
"Why when my mother asks me to go get her something and I can't find it, but when she gets up and looks for it, the thing she asked me to get was right in front of me."
"It's called refrigerator blindness:"
It's A Game We All Play
"The economy, as in I understand everything hypothetically, but have no clue how Im going to implement my "knowledge." Yeah I know how a mortgage works, and I know how taxes work, but what do I do? Just go to the bank and say "1 mortgage please!" I just feel like Im missing something about the "real world" and since Im 17, Im only a couple years off it"
"1 Mortgage please" is just about right lol don't worry you're young. There's still people in their 30s and 40s out there who don't understand these concepts either. Just the thought of you trying to understand these concepts at your age puts you ahead of the curve. Stay curious and always ask questions."
Looking At You, Comments Section...
"When native English speakers can't:"
"Editing so ya'll can stop commenting the same ones:"
A lot of science goes deep into the territory of sounding made up. It's all real, it has to be. Otherwise it wouldn't be something we could study. Yet even with those explanations, to some it feels like there's a bit of fiction behind it.
It's Magic. Only Explanation.
"I know there's grooves but how does a needle going over those tiny grooves make such a specific sound, like the vocals, guitars, drums, keyboards, or any other instrument? And how did people invent this so long ago?"
"I've seen closeups of a needle in a groove but it still doesn't make sense to me how a few ridges can produce these sounds exactly. And how do they even put those specific grooves in there, especially over a century ago."
It Just Keeps Growing And Growing And...
"What's in space and the absolute vastness of it"
"I took astronomy in college only thing I remember is that humans will never be able to comprehend how big space is or the distance"
"From what I know, the speed of light is the limitation we're facing. The light from extremely far away places is expanding faster than the speed of light can reach us so in an infinite amount of time, we'll never get to see or even know about what was there."
All I Know Is You Plug It In And...
"I've read the theory and explanation, even simplified ones and I just still don't understand. I've done some calculations in uni for it and I had to mentally separate that it was electrical theory to understand the equations."
"Definitely black magic."
Maybe go for a walk in the park. Look at some trees. Those are easy to comprehend. No need to stretch your brain to the point of breaking.
"NFT's for me it's just online pictures you speculate with"
"You've figured it out then."
"I really hate the NFT bandwagon, because I still find no sense to it after trying to read about it every chance I get and I feel this is the line that turning me from tech-savvy to the uncle you need to teach how to use his phone."
It's All A Bit Wibbly Wobbly
"to be fair none of us genuinely understand. we're merely pretending to, by making it relative to us. good answer"
"People assume that time is a strict progression from cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff"
No On Really Knows And ISN'T THAT TERRIFYING
"Either it always existed, which is a thermodynamic nightmare which makes no sense because how can a chain of events not have a start, or it did have a start, which is preposterous because time (spacetime) is a PRODUCT of expansion; there literally was no "before" the big bang because there was no time to have a point in to call "before"."
"Ontologically, ONE of these statements has to be at least nominally true, but BOTH are f-cking bananas."
There's ideas, concepts, scientific theories, you can hear and be retaught many times yet still not fully understand. And that's okay. You don't have to understand everything. Just accept we're moving forward, in time, in a universe we don't fully grasp, and move on with your life.
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You know what?
I genuinely like being an adult. I don't exactly like paying bills (who does, right?) but it's nice to know that I have my independence and that there is no one else impeding on my time. When I was a kid, I was very annoyed with the rituals of life, like going to school and seeing the same terrible people each day. Being out and about in the world, being free of these things, has been a game-changer.
But there are things you're never really prepared for, such as the fact that there's always something to do.
We heard more after Redditor Bootyshortsforcorgis asked the online community,
"Adults of Reddit, what part of being an adult caught you completely off guard because no one talks about it?"
"Even when you think..."
"How absolutely constant it all is. Even when you think you're getting a break, like a vacation, you're just doing other adult things you don't normally do in your everyday life."
Like I said... there's always something to do. Yeah, it can get to you sometimes.
"After 40+ weeks..."
"After 40+ years on this planet, you can still be traumatized by something that happened in your childhood."
Time doesn't heal all wounds, people. You know what does? Addressing those wounds. Therapy is important.
"How much I..."
"How much I would need to lie on the floor to make my back feel better."
"That many do not mature or grow up after high school."
Ain't that the truth. It's why I'm glad I no longer live in my old neighborhood.
"Having to decide..."
"Having to decide what to eat for the rest of your life. It can turn into laziness which leads to unhealthy eating. I don't wanna do all that cooking when I can just throw a pizza in the oven. Even though I know deep down I need to eat more veggies and not have food go to waste."
"That you'll spend..."
"That you'll spend a huge portion of your life doing things you really don't want to do (work, cleaning, being around people you don't like)."
Also true. One of the things that I do like about the pandemic? More time at home. I despise commuting. Do not miss it in the least.
"The complete unwillingness..."
"The complete unwillingness of most people to have difficult conversations. Most people would be perfectly happy carrying on like nothing is going on."
"Realizing that your parents were also just trying to figure it all out."
That they are. Many of us have become more forgiving of our parents as a result. Note that this doesn't necessarily apply if someone's parents are or were abusive.
"High school and college..."
"The opportunity to meet people is limited compared to when you were in high school or college.
High school and college provided you with extra activities/clubs to do that helped you meet people with similar mind-sets/interests as you. When you graduate, you lose seeing those people consistently or even at all.
So when you make it to the real world, the friends you did make from those things, aren't as available as they used to be. It can be hard to meet up and do things like you used to."
"You move out..."
"You move out and suddenly realise there are no pens. Your parents have lots of pens, but, you realise they never bought pens, they just had lots of them. Where did all those pens come from? Years of accumulation."
No one said adulthood was easy, but hopefully you'll be a bit more prepared now that you these observations in mind.
As for me... I will never miss being a teen. I'm good where I'm at.
Have some observations of your own? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments below!
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What if? That could happen. You never know. All thoughts that muddle the mind. It is unhealthy to live life in a vacuum of despair and scare but really... you do never know. And anything can happen.
So! How to proceed. First we must figure out are you scared or cautious? And are those messages getting confused? They are important questions.
It's natural to be concerned in life, and it's smart to be ready, but living in fear is no good. For instance, serial killers exist. In fact several are reading this now. That can't stop us from going outside. Can it?
Redditor u/IgnoreAndScroll404 wanted to chat about all the things that leave us shooketh in life, because maybe, you never know. They asked:
What unlikely event are you terrified will happen to you?
I hate elevators. I'm claustrophobic. I am sure death by elevator is imminent. Has it happened to others? Yes. Will it inevitably happen to me? Yes. I mean maybe. Who can tell.
The EndFail New York Knicks GIF by Indiana PacersGiphy
"Being impaled by a log falling off of the back of a truck, final destination style."
Over Troubled Water...
"A bridge collapsing when I'm driving over it."
"Back in '93 my aunt, uncle, cousin, and I were on a road trip from Illinois to Massachusetts. We drove through NYC and we entered Manhattan on the George Washington Bridge. During that year al-Qaeda had plans of using high powered explosives in New York and one of their targets was the GW bridge. Thankfully the FBI foiled that plot before it could be carried out. I distinctively remember as we were on the bridge I was hoping it wouldn't collapse."
"Die before retirement."
"This. All that crap for nothing. This is why you should avoid overtime even if you love what you do, you're not only giving up time now but also time later. Stress will cut your lifespan down as fast as anything."
"I'm afraid that one day I'll travel to a country that's got a lot of ice. I'll for some reason, cut a hole in the ice so I can jump in. Swim a little and then not be able to rise to the top due to all the ice and can't find the way out! I've had literal nightmares about this."
Clues...clue turnaround GIF by Paramount MoviesGiphy
"I'm a woman who watches too much true crime. I'm so riveted when watching, but later in the middle of the night I wake up and repeatedly check the doorway for serial killers."
Danger. Danger is all around us. Even in the house we're in trouble. We're never safe.
The Wavetsunami GIFGiphy
"Dying by tsunami."
"This. I am simultaneously fascinated and terrified of tsunamis. I have dreams about running from tsunamis about once every couple of months, sometimes I survive, sometimes I don't, but its so freaking scary to think about. And yet I also like to look up footage of tsunamis online for some reason, like some kind of Stockholm syndrome."
"A brain aneurism. Thanks, Archer."
Rabies. Despite the fact that I'm vaccinated and the chances are low as hell that I would end up with it if I got a booster shot after exposure."
"It is basically the zombie plague from horror movies. Sure, it turns out the logistics of zombie infection doesn't lead to hoards of zombies roaming the streets. But seriously it's a ridiculous nasty disease. My grandfather worked with the virus as some sort of researcher. I got an illuminating email from him back when I was in school doing a report on rabies. Not my favorite disease by a long shot."
"I am scared a plane will crash into my house. Not actually because of 9/11, I had this fear since before then because of the major event near San Diego California where 2 planes crashed into each other mid-air. Bodies and plane parts etc fell all over a suburban neighbourhood. It's one of my biggest nightmares and still bothers me to think about that. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_Southwest_Airlines_Flight_182"
Knock me out...Tired Monday GIFGiphy
"Doctors doing things without my permission. Such as while under anesthesia, ignoring my requests for something to not happen, claiming I'm incompetent to make decisions, etc."
Life is a gamble. You gonna play or just wait out your turn? That is a more serious question than you think.
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Capitalism wants to push its workers to work for ultimate productivity--even if that comes at the expense of other things. A worker's well-being has been placed second to their productivity in America for too long. That time is changing now.
Workers are no longer willing to be completely mowed down for a paycheck. Something's gotta give--and either it's the money or the job. And more people are willing to stand up for themselves.
"What was your 'I'm not paid enough for this s**t' moment?"
Here were some of those answers.
Think Of The Children
"Telling a grown a** man that he shouldn't be sh*tting in a school parking lot. I was eating lunch in my car and saw him in the rear view mirror."
"I got out of my car and shouted as loud as I could SIR YOU CANNOT POOP THERE, not to get his attention so much as to make him, you know, not sh*t on the side of my school building. And embarrass him out of doing it again."
"I was pissed off, too, there were two portapotties within sight of where he was."-8dogsinatrenchcoat
"When a customer had a full-blown adult tantrum on the floor of the supermarket I was working at because we were out of red cabbage two hours before we closed on Christmas Eve."
"Mind you that almost everyone eats red cabbage on Christmas here in Germany. To top this off she also threw frozen bread rolls after me because I told her to have her tantrum outside."-Lelexxia
Knowing Your Value
"While working with a client as a consultant employed by a consulting agency. The client tried to hire me full time and offered me triple the salary."
"That was like the wtf moment which made me research the market value of my skills and turned out I was super underpaid. So I left and found a new job straight away."-vegetable-table-man
It's hard to think of ourselves in terms of money, since we aren't made to be consumed for value.
Gotta Love A Truck Stop Moment
"So I'm working this register at a truck stop circa 2011. It's by a door that gets very little traffic so I mostly just watch the gift shop area and try to deter people from stealing."
"It's an overnight shift about 3 am. This man comes barreling in bleeding from his hand and yells 'IVE BEEN STABBED!'"
"Immediately I call for security. My manager is nearby. Security calls 911 on their way and shows up a few moments later. This guy is bleeding profusely, all over my freshly mopped floor mind you."
"I'm off to the side 'Sir where is the stabber?!' My manager is asking for towels, so I bring a clean towel. Again I ask 'SIR, where is the stabber?!'"
"My manager and security are saying stuff like 'Put pressure on it. Go wave down the ambulance when they arrive!' So at this point I'm practically yelling 'There is a stabber on the loose in that parking lot some where and I'm not going out there until I know where he is!'"
"Finally the guy goes 'Oh he was at the truck stop across the street. We got into an argument it wasn't random.' Relieved and now no longer fearing for my safety I went out to wave down the ambulance."
"Unfortunately $8/hr is not enough to get stabbed over."-ItsTylerBrenda
Ice Ice Baby
"I worked at a Starbucks in a grocery store and a customer got mad because she wanted a drink cold but it was served hot.
"The girl taking her order was new and didn't ask her if she wanted hot or cold, I was making the drinks so went with what was on the cup."
"So she threw it at me, while still freshly hot. Burned my face down to my stomach. I was 5 months pregnant. I quit a week later."-Zealou_luv
Sometimes, Spirit Is Inappropriate
"So if you're familiar with Build-A-Bear, you know the happy faces the employees are supposed to have. You might also be familiar with the bear stuffing process."
"You pick a bear, bring it to me, pick a heart and you do a little dance (or whatever else I'd pick) I'd stuff the bear, you put the heart in and I stitch it up."
"There was a couple that came in one night in January 2008. She was extremely pregnant. They came in and pick one of the little blue bears. I asked how they want it stuffed, the normal."
"And then when they pick the heart oh, they also pick one of the fancy hearts that has a heartbeat. Then tell me that their son, who she is still pregnant with is going to be stillborn. And they are making a bear together to give to him to be buried with."
"Obviously, I immediately tone down to the happy-go-lucky bullsh*t. The store was empty so it didn't really matter. And no, I didn't make them do the little dance and wish that you do for most people."
"I finished the bear myself, walk them through the clothing, check them out myself and then close the store. I got written up the next day for not showing the Build-A-Bear spirit. I was 16. I quit and got into a screaming match with that dumba** manager."-enemyoftoast
Mary Mary Quite Contrary
"When the boss said he was going to hire 'Mary' back. Mary, the woman who was fired for having her friends call me with death threats because I wouldn't switch days off with her."
"Mary, the woman he told me he was never in a room alone with because she was 'the type to claim sexual harassment'."
"He hired Mary back and gave her my job after I quit. He was fired 6 months later over the sexual harassment claim filed by . . . . Mary."-jaimystery
We will never put our mental and physical health at risk without being duly compensated.
"I was on a royal navy warship and we'd pulled into Hull UK for a visit. Their dockyard regulations prevented the ship from discharging solids overboard so the total of all the crews toilet flushings were diverted to a holding tank so we could discharge it overboard when back at sea."
"After the crew had been in port for two days, which for most involved copious drinking and then finishing off with a large curry or spicy kebab, the additional load on the system was too much for the circulating pump inside tank."
"The pump was also used pump the contents overboard so needed to be fixed before we went back to sea. Unfortunately I was duty electrician the day the pump failed."
"The contents of the tank was about a foot and half deep! I suited up with waterproofs and copious amounts of duct tape to seal the seams and descended."
"The pump was bolted in place and to free it I had to work with my face about four inches from the liquid curry and beer smoothies as I bent over. I definitely want getting paid enough... But I was given an order and it was my job, so I just got on and did it."-Androm57
"Was working in a large bakery for my first job at 15. Tried to pull a six foot tall baking tray but there's a lip to get the tray over, started to fall on me and caught it with my forearms, burning myself (not terribly, but still not great feeling)."
"Told my boss and showed him my swelling, reddened forearms and asked to go home. He said I could, once I'd mopped out the bottom of all the 10+ freezers and then he left, leaving me alone."
"I left as soon as he did and then rode my bike home to take care of my burns."-therustedrobot
The Donors Need To Be Coralled
"Working for a nonprofit. At a fundraising dinner, a major donor touched my knee then later my butt and flirted heavily. I am a woman and was 25 at the time."
"When I brought it to my supervisor I was told that is just something you have to put up with when fundraising if you want to make the organization money."
"Stayed at that job a few months before I was fired for not being happy enough. Note that after that incident I refused to attend events where the creep would be there.. Can't say I was sad."
"Got a job that paid twice as much and came without sexual harassment. An employment lawyer probably would have loved if I called them, but I lacked the confidence to take that big of a stand."
"Now I would absolutely take action. I would actually probably yell in the moment to get your forking hands off me. Which would have been awkward for him because his wife was present."-smughippie
There you have it. Across the board, people have put their foot down when it comes to work. If you want higher paid work, you need to pay me more.
Let's never settle for less again.