The Friendship Doctor

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Help! My Teenage Daughter Has Only One Friend

A struggling mom asks for advice on her teen's friendships

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

My heart aches for my daughter who is a senior in high school. She has suffered from insecurities since she was in elementary school. She went through a stage when she had nervous ticks in elementary and some in middle school. She wants to be involved and have friends, but is at the end of her high school career with literally one girl friend.

This one friend never goes out socially outside of church. My daughter, of course, would like to have friends who go out together, but only seems to have guy friends that can go out. She doesn't want to go out with all guys. Unfortunately, she tarnished her reputation as a sophomore in high school and I feel like it's too late for her to repair and mend friendships. Any advice to help her to find confidence and make friends?

Signed, Lindsay

 

ANSWER

Hi Lindsay,

Your description of this problem is a bit sketchy so I'll throw out a few thoughts to see if one or two of them fit your situation: 

1) It's good that your daughter has one friend. Don't minimize the importance of this positive friendship. Not everyone needs a circle of friends.

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2) To help your daughter find other female friends, you might encourage her to participate in extra-curricular activities where she might meet new people (perhaps, by volunteering, joining a gym, or participating in a sport) outside of her school.

3) If your daughter has a tarnished reputation among females and only relates to males, is there something about her behavior that is off-putting to other girls? Perhaps, it is something you could help her identify and resolve.

4) Lacking confidence and having nervous tics is sometimes associated with social anxiety. Have you ever explored this possibility with a guidance counselor at school or with some other mental health professional? If your daughter is anxious, this may make it difficult for her to make friends.

5) Is your daughter pained about her lack of friendships or are you more concerned about than she? It's important to be supportive without adding to the social pressures she already feels. 

Wish I could be more helpful but perhaps, this will get you thinking in some useful direction.

My best, Irene 

 

Some recent posts on The Friendship Blog about teen friendships:

Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., is a psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. Her latest book is Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend.

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