Reply To: Concern for my 14 year old son and his isolation

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I have an almost 18 yo son with ADD and a 16 yo daughter with social anxiety/anxiety/depression. Both are stable. My daughter is very focused student with top grades. My son’s grades tend to be all over the place. As is typical of ADD kids, he does well in subjects and with teachers he likes. He is capable and intelligent, but not “good at school”- turning things in and on time, keeping an organized notebook, etc.

Neither one of them has any close friends. Very seldom has either of them gone to or had kids over since they finished elementary school. They enjoy other kids at school but it stops there. I felt like they were missing so much, not attending school events and games, hanging out with friends, etc. but I have mostly reconciled myself to the situation after observing that 1)few kids now “hang out” the way we did, even the more socially adept. Texting has replaced much of that. 2)They’re in no rush to drive either, likely because of the texting and access to everything online. Everything comes to them so they don’t have incentive to go out and seek others. My daughter talks about some of the You Tubers that she subscribes to as though she knows them personally. In a way, she does, I guess. 3)They are both good kids, if homebodies, who seem to get almost all their social needs met in our small family.

I have had to accept that they are different kids than I was. I feel like I have mourned what I feel they are missing, but they aren’t missing what they don’t seem to need.

I also know that my daughter made some valiant efforts to develop friendships but she’s surrounded by kids whose manners and social skills are, at best, limited (much of this affected by cell phones) and who do the least they can to get by and are disrespectful and disruptive, even in Honors classes. Because she is so tentative socially, I was coaching and encouraging her but when I truly saw what she was up against, I ended up telling her I was fine with her reading a book during lunch. Hopefully college will offer a more appealing set of peers.

We never bought a game system for my son because we found that when he played video games, it sucked up all of his energy and ability to focus and he was very irritable trying to stop when time was up and after stopping. We told him that if it was really important to him, he could save up and buy one on his own. He never did and we NEVER missed it. He does play some on the computer, but is not as absorbed and obsssed as so many boys.

I wanted to share some of my experience to acknowledge that many of us are facing this and it was my extremely long winded way of saying that sometimes we just need to say to ourselves: if they’re happy, I’m happy.