Friends (or lack of Friends!)

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    • #52083
      lavoth
      Participant

      Hello. I have a son who is 14 and has ADHD/Autism. He struggles socially and does not have friends that come to the house or that he interacts with outside of school. I have a 12 year old daughter who also has ADHD but is much more social and has a couple of friends she does things with. I struggle because I am so thankful for the few friends that she has and really want to support those friendships by allowing her to do things and planning things for them. I feel so sad for my son because he is not able to be included as these are mostly things the girls would enjoy. I often ask him to join in but understandably he choses not to do so. I feel guilty that I plan things for my daughter and it seems so unfair to him. But at the same time, I don’t want to deprive my girl of her activities. I am curious how others handle these kinds of situations. We do a lot of things as just the family so my son does get to do things of course.

    • #52094
      anomalocaris
      Participant

      Your son, at 14, is old enough to talk with him about it. He may be happier on his own. Socializing is exhausting for me and always has been. Given a choice as a child, I would always have preferred to be left alone, and resented my parents’ attempts to force me to be more social. You could mention to your son that you sometimes worry about him feeling left out when you plan social events for his sister. He may not be bothered by it at all. You might ask him if there are things he would really like to do. I hated being forced to deal with humans, but I was over the moon to be taken someplace where I could interact with animals, or to someplace natural, where I could roam on a beach or hike to a waterfall. If you include your son in the discussion, I think he can guide you better than anyone here can. But what I would NOT do is feel guilty for treating your children as individuals and not forcing one to be like the other.

    • #52108
      lavoth
      Participant

      Thank you for your reply. That is very helpful to think about it from that perspective. I will definitely have a conversation with him. Sometimes conversations about how he feels are very difficult as he has a really hard time expressing his feelings but I can certainly approach the subject.

    • #52123
      anomalocaris
      Participant

      I also don’t like to talk openly my feelings very much. You can work around that in a couple of ways. One way is to not ask him how he feels about it, but instead say how YOU feel and ask for his input. “Sometimes I worry that I’m slighting you when I arrange social things for your sister, because I know you don’t get into the social thing so much. I’ve been wanting to arrange some things that are more in your court. Is there any place you’ve been wanting to go?”

      The other pointer I’d have, is to bring it up in a very casual way, and keep the conversation casual. Otherwise he might feel embarrassed because, even with ADD, he’s still 14 and heart to heart talks with Mom are not cool when you’re 14. And he’s a guy. I heard a joke on TV once by a female comedian who said that the one self defense technique that women really need to know is that if you’re threatened by a guy who intends you harm, you should look into his eyes and say, “Honey, we need to talk,” because there isn’t a male on the planet who won’t turn and run when he hears that! So I’d suggest just at some random moment, saying something like, “Hey, can I run something by you?” That way, it’s not a big deal and you’re not asking him to talk about his feelings. You’re just casually asking for his input on your problem.

      One of two things will come of it. Either he takes the bait and gives you some ideas, or he says, “Nah. Is there any pizza left,” and walks off, carefully avoiding looking “not cool,” but secretly pleased to know you’re concerned about his feelings. No way you can lose 🙂

      • #52290
        lavoth
        Participant

        Thank you again for taking the time respond. These suggestions are very helpful. I sometimes see the anxiety in him when I do try to have the serious “can we talk” conversations! He shuts down pretty quickly. I will try some different approaches!

    • #52143
      Penny Williams
      Keymaster

      There’s a very similar discussion thread here: https://www.additudemag.com/forums/topic/concern-for-my-14-year-old-son-and-his-isolation/. You can glean more advice on this in that discussion too.

      My daughter, not diagnosed with ADHD but with anxiety, has been much the same all through high school (she just graduated). She tells me she has a hard time reading people and is scared to death of accidentally saying something insensitive, offensive, etc., so she just doesn’t try. She has a few friends but rarely sees them outside of school (they invite her to parties, but she hates parties).

      I used to push her to try to do things outside of school with friends. It just stressed her out. Eventually, I accepted that she’s an introvert, has a lot of social anxiety (as do I), and is genuinely more comfortable being at home or with another person one-on-one.

      Here’s more on social anxiety:

      You’re Not Shy or Stuck Up. You Have Social Anxiety Disorder.

      And on helping teens with social skills:

      Social Smarts: The Teen Years

      Continue to address each of your children’s social needs individually.

      Penny
      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

      • #52291
        lavoth
        Participant

        Thank you so much for your response. And thank you for sharing the links – all of this is helpful!

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