Reply To: Birthday party heartbreak

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I don’t have kids and I was not diagnosed with ADD until adulthood, so only then did I learn why my childhood was so difficult. One thing I want to toss in for parents, based on my experiences, is that my parents were bothered by the fact that I had no friends, and their solution was to force me into social situations — insist that I go to the birthday party that I didn’t want to go to because I’d be either left out or bullied. Forced me to attend Girl Scouts (with the same result). I was quite happy with my own company and preferred to be alone, reading, or walking in the woods observing wildlife. Friends would not have been an issue, but for my parents and other adults acting as if there was something wrong with not having friends.

I’m an adult now, and more capable of navigating the social world. I get a lot of respect from the people around me, and recently was invited to be interviewed by the BBC. but I still don’t have close friends that I spend time with. I have a team of folks I rescue rattlesnakes with (Yes, I did just say, “rescue rattlesnakes.”) and my sister and I do things together. That’s about it, and I’m fine with that. I was not scarred by growing up without friends, but I do carry some scars caused by being forced into social situations I couldn’t handle, and by people hinting that I was somehow lacking as a person because I preferred to be on my own. Those negative experiences have a great deal to do with my reluctance to engage with people as an adult.

If your kids WANT to have lots of friends, by all means facilitate it. But I wanted to tell my story because I think a lot of kids with ADD find socializing overwhelming and exhausting like I did (and still do) and I think it’s important for parents not to force the issue with ADD kids.