There isn’t a parent in the world who would want to see their child fail in making friends.
But if they are struggling, there are ways in which a parent shouldn’t approach the situation unless they want to make things worse, according to the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor msladyjune901 couldn’t quite figure out their 15-year-old daughter who liked to collect Lego and action figures, and who struggled to talk to people who she didn’t know.
But when their daughter tried to talk to them about her own frustrations with making friends, the Original Poster (OP) may have been too harsh.
The OP asked the sub:
“AITA for telling my daughter she needs to grow up and make some friends?”
The OP didn’t understand why their daughter didn’t have friends.
“My daughter (15), who I’ll call H, refuses to talk to anybody she doesn’t know, even at school.”
“H has never had more than a couple of friends and has just in general always been a little weird.”
“She even still collects things like legos, action figures, etc.”
“Her older sister (18) was a little ‘weird’ too, but she grew out of it.”
“By now H has absolutely no friends and her only social interaction is with her sister and cousins.”
They also didn’t like how she stayed in the house.
“Whenever H gets home, all she does is clean, do homework, or sit in her room. Honestly, it annoys me that she never goes anywhere.”
“Last weekend her school had a dance, and as usual, she didn’t go.”
The OP told the truth when their daughter tried to talk to them about it.
“Then on Monday, H came home and said she ‘hated school,’ because it was ’embarrassing.'”
“When I asked her why, she said, ‘nobody likes her because they think she’s weird and quiet.'”
“I told her if she wants people to like her, she needs to grow up and make some friends by actually talking to people instead of just waiting for everybody to talk to her.”
The OP’s older daughter thought they were too harsh.
“H went to her room and hasn’t talked to me since yesterday.”
“I just got a call from her sister and she called me b*tchy and said I need to leave H alone.”
“I don’t see how I was in the wrong because in my opinion I just told her the truth.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in, declaring:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some urged the OP to get involved in their daughter’s interests.
“I can appreciate that you want your daughter to make friends and enrich her life.”
“But the way you’re describing her is almost like in a deliberate degrading way. You totally should have approached this in a different way.”
“You’re a parent. You’re supposed to be supportive ask questions.”
“Ask if she’s having a difficult time with anything. Ask if she wants to make friends with certain kinds of people.”
“Get involved in her life FFS (for f**k’s sake). YTA.” – TrustedTriangle
“YTA, OP, none of her interests are weird, she hasn’t found her tribe. She doesn’t have to ‘grow up’ or out of anything to make friends.”
“Encouraging her to work on her social skills doesn’t mean she needs to give up the hobbies or interests she enjoys: the biggest communities out in the world are Lego enthusiasts and action figure collectors.”
“You could encourage her to look at clubs that are adjacent to her interests (are her action figures related to comics?) if there isn’t one for her interests already.”
“Or you can help her form an afternoon school club related to her interests; I can totally see a LEGO club being popular.” – AlwaysQueso
“I’m 34 and have lego, action figures, and play online games. I’m also a teacher, married with 3 kids, and have tons of friends.”
“I found my tribe. Those things aren’t childish. She just needs to find friends with the same interests.” – flowerofiron
“Instead of berating the poor girl that’s struggling, why not suggest or even ask if she wants to get involved in different activities that align with her interests?”
“They could open opportunities for her to start socializing with people that share her ‘weird’ interests.”
“Or just let her be if she’s happy how she is. Not everyone needs to be a social butterfly.”
“Does OP even like their own child? Because it certainly doesn’t look like it.”
“YTA.” – KnightOwl224
“YTA. As a mom of a 17 Female self-proclaimed weirdo, you could be a lot more supportive than hoping she will ‘grow out of it.'”
“I have helped my daughter find her tribe of weirdos, they are all sewing their prom dresses, love cosplay and are not the ‘typical’ high schoolers.”
“Being a teenager is awkward enough without feeling like you’re not living up to your own mother’s standards of who you should be. Stop putting that on her and help her find her way as who she is.” – RayofSunshine_27
“YTA. As someone who’s been in your daughter’s shoes, I strongly advise you to take an interest in whatever hobbies your daughter does have.”
“Engage her, and let her realize that she and her interests have value. If the people closest to her don’t believe that, what confidence can she have that anyone else will?” – belmiramirabel
“YTA you have a shy daughter and just basically told her to grow up and stop being herself. Honestly, your whole post seems irrationally angry that she doesn’t behave the way that you want her to.”
“Why would she expect kids to like her when her own parent is treating her with such disdain?”
“Also, FYI, plenty of adults collect things so she doesn’t need to grow up. I have a room in my house decorated in Lego and I’m in my 30s with plenty of friends.”
“You need to stop being judgmental and try being supportive.”
“Why couldn’t you suggest joining a club linked to one of her interests? There are lots of groups online that do meet-ups too.”
“She can start online where she might be more comfortable having time to process responses then build up to in-person when she feels like she knows the members.” – Vcccccccc
Others said the OP needed to get to the root of their daughter’s struggles with meeting people.
“OP hasn’t ever tried to figure out why she struggles with this when she’s 15??? Maybe she has social anxieties and needs a therapist, for goodness sake.”
“OP, don’t be a bully about it, be her support system!” – iMOONiCORN
“She also could just be an introvert. I was exactly like op’s daughter in high school.”
“I’m 34 now. I don’t have friends and I truly do not want any. They’re exhausting.”
“I used to force myself to go out with them and it stressed me out for days before each outing.”
“I’ve got a husband, kids, siblings, and my parents. Anyone beyond that? No thank you.” – CutHour4010
“Have you had her evaluated for autism spectrum disorders?”
“If your only response is ‘make some friends’ without giving her actual strategies about how to do that based on her personality, talents, and comfort level, how is she supposed to take this advice?”
“It’s like you saying, ‘well, you just need to grow up and play this Beethoven piano sonata,’ without her taking years of piano lessons or even buying her a piano to practice on.” – Perdendosi
“With a parent like this, who needs enemies!”
“OP is mad at her because she is always home, apparently does her chores without really asking, and is doing her homework, besides collecting things that OP finds weird.”
“Guess what OP, your daughter will find her own path. You cannot force it unto her. I also have a feeling that she will thrive in college. Both socially and educationally.”
“And if you really want to help her, find out if she has anxiety or the likes (and frankly, with a parent like OP, chances are pretty high that is the case).” – AhniJetal
“YTA because based on what you described it, it sounds like some real social anxiety there, and instead of seeking a counselor out to help, you bark at her instead and lay the blame squarely on her.”
“That will do the opposite and make her want to isolate more. I’d really have her go to a counselor or doctor, and YOU NEED TO BE MORE COMPASSIONATE BEFORE YOU DRIVE BOTH YOUR KIDS AWAY.”
“Also, introversion is a natural part of some people’s personalities. And as a 35-year-old, my partner and I both play with things considered childish (he loves Minecraft and I am a Disney megafan). Nostalgia is ‘in.'”
“Don’t judge what your kids like doing. They could be doing drugs or having unprotected sex.” – Freakin_Merida88
“YTA, but only because of how you’re clearly being judgmental of her instead of helping her. Telling a 15-year-old to stop being weird and grow up isn’t helpful.”
“If you actually gave her real advice and decided to be her parent, she might have an easier time. Making friends isn’t easy.” – Obvious-Result6853
“YTA for your tone, and how your speak to her. I understand that you want the best for her, but the way you speak to her will have the opposite effect.”
“Your daughter is clearly struggling, and pushing her like you are is very likely to backfire, and make her even more closed off.”
“Please try to listen to her, and see if there is a way for you to actually help her, instead of making her more anxious. Help might include therapy, or maybe something else, but please have an open mind and try to actually help her.” – ed_lv
While the OP thought that they said what their daughter needed to hear, the subReddit did not agree in even one small way.
Having friends is largely beneficial, but simply telling a teenager to get some is not a practical solution or sound advice.
Rather, it sounds like this parent needs to work harder to understand their daughter, what she needs to thrive in social settings, and what this Lego and action figure love is all about.
If they don’t step up, they might be surprised not to hear much from their quiet daughter when she leaves for college or starts a career.