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How can I motivate and encourage my daughter to socialize more? is her behaviour normal?

Tagged as: Family, Health<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (8 September 2018) 2 Answers - (Newest, 9 September 2018)
A female Canada age 30-35, anonymous writes:

My daughter is 19, and I've been really concerned about her mental health lately. Since she graduated from high school, her friends would reject hanging out with her, basically everyone went to a different place and they just lost contact. My daughter was upset about it but she told me that she can find new friends in college. Since she got into college, she told me she tried making new friends, but she said she is hanging out with the wrong crowd, her friends would force her to smoke, get drunk, or even encourage her to loose her virginity. She would come home crying when she finds out that she just got played from a jerk who just wants to get into my daughter's pants, basically she felt frustrated. Right now she refuse to let anyone in her life, she told me she's fed up with people being fake, she's not interested in any friendship or relationship, however she only does a small talk as long as it's just casual.

My daughter is just spending her day at home, studying all the time, stressing her self out, she is dealing with panic attacks since last year. She's refusing to go to a psychologist or even open up to me.

How can i motivate and encourage my daughter to socialize more? is her behaviour normal? Should i leave her alone and give her some space or should i be concerned?

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (9 September 2018):

Your daughter is getting a taste of the real world and adulthood. Most freshman undergo this transition. Going from high school, leaving home for the first-time, to becoming a college freshman. Facing unfamiliar people, and getting lost in the crowd.

If you attended college, you know how it was your first year. It took some getting used to. It took time to adjust to all that human diversity, schedules, getting to classes on-time on an enormous campus; and dealing with relentlessly demanding professors! Remember?

I hope you aren't blaming the other kids for abandoning your daughter. They are doing what most kids their age do. They want to make new friends, be independent; and they want to see if they can make-it out there in that scary world. They are not afraid to let go of the familiar to explore what's new to them. To try everything they were told not to do, when still home with their parents. Yes, there will be bad-influences. This is where your parenting and the values you've instilled in her comes into play. You've raised her to this point, and she was being prepared to become an adult.

College is a rite of passage, and the pathway into life as a working-adult.

Sometimes it seems the only time these young women become defiant and instantly mature these days; is when they want the devil's spawn for a boyfriend, against your better judgement. Then you can't tell them anything! That's when they will remind you they are no longer a child.

You have to encourage her and teach her to cope with adversity. Deal with challenges. There are way too many people giving into their fears, having panic-attacks, and retreating into isolation. Assuming a position where they are ruled and imprisoned by their anxieties. We all have fears, insecurities, and anxieties. The world isn't going to adapt to us; we have to adjust to the world. When we have enough education and confidence in our knowledge; we can put it to use, and apply it to change things for the better. Yet survive in it, in spite of what it already is.

She's getting a taste of the dark-side of real-world. Over-sheltering her and encouraging her to shut-down is doing more harm than good. Look at how other young women her age are learning to integrate into college-culture; and focusing on their studies. She's in a new environment, she is learning how to assimilate into a new social-structure, and she is no longer a little girl. People are not always nice.

She might find some comfort in joining a study-group, she can look for on-campus social-activities for freshman students meant to get them to mingle; and help her to adjust to college-life.

Being close to home, she can run home to you; and you will mother her. Sheltering her from the experiences that will shape and mature her as a student, and a young woman. You can be her support, and her rock; but don't baby her. Don't have some doctor fill her full of pills for anxiety; if she doesn't really need them. Seek more than one professional-opinion before you allow that.

The world isn't going to change from what you and I know, to suit what she feels it should be like. It's far from rainbows and unicorns; but it's not total hell either.

If you have, and others she knows are surviving it; I think she will manage. I am not saying she doesn't need counseling; I'm suggesting that even counselors will encourage her to deal with it! Maybe she isn't as fragile as you think, just scared!

Sometimes it's tough to make new friends. You may not get instant popularity; and you will run into a few jerks. This is the world we live in. If other people she knows are adapting to it, from similar background; so can she. If she needs counseling, she should see the campus psychologist; or you can have her seek professional-counseling of your own choosing. Just be careful about allowing her to be intimidated by the realities of life. She will have to live in the world outside her room in your house. She will have to find a job, and she will have to live independently.

She needs to develop some elementary survival-skills. She will have to learn to bounce-back from disappointment, develop some resilience from rejection; and she will have to learn to laugh-off silly things, without taking herself too seriously.

I think most of what you see is normal. She is coming to see that life isn't high school anymore. The others she knew want to get away from home-life and the same-old friends. They want to gain their independence; and explore the world for themselves. Test the waters.

Remember when she learned to walk? When you tried to take her hand, or hold her in your lap; and she fought and pulled-away? When she became so defiant and independent that she told you "NO!" She learned she could go where she wanted to go on her own two feet, and she had her own will. The same applies here.

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A female reader, Youcannotbeserious United Kingdom + , writes (9 September 2018):

Youcannotbeserious agony auntI think it is often the case that, once high school is over, people who were school friends drift away in different directions.

What is more worrying is that your daughter has fallen in with a crowd who sound like they use her as entertainment fodder. It's lucky she is savvy enough to realize this.

It sounds like it may be far more important to LISTEN to her than to talk to her at the moment. Let her offload. She doesn't necessarily need answers (because she needs to work these out for herself) but she does sound like she is in need of someone just listening and offering support and sympathy, which I am sure you are doing. Even if she doesn't actually want to talk, just try to be supportive and let her know, if she needs/wants to talk, you are ready to listen.

What are her passions and interests? Does she indulge these interests outside college where she will meet like-minded people who could become real friends? Perhaps singing in a choir, or partaking in amateur dramatics might give her a focus and somewhere to relax and take her mind off studying? Or dancing or a sports activity? If she cares deeply about something (wildlife, animals in general, the homeless, the elderly), could she volunteer in her spare time to feed this passion? So much to choose from but, without knowing where your daughter's interests lie, it is hard to be more specific. What about getting a part time job which will help her gain experience for what she wants to do in the future?

Wishing you both all the best.

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