The beleaguered Redditor shared that his son's struggle to make friends has gotten harder as he's gotten older.

By Maressa Brown
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All moms and dads want to see their children thrive—and a big part of any kid's happiness is their social life. Sadly, some kids struggle to connect with their peers, and the effect can be devastating. One father took to Reddit last week to vent about how his son's uphill battle with making friends has led him to reject his birthday celebration altogether.

The original poster (OP), writing under the handle Ewokiel, titled the post, "My son has no friends to celebrate his birthday with. I thought this would get better but this was easier when he was 7." He shared that he "just needed to rant," writing, "My oldest turns 14 tomorrow. He has always struggled to make friends, and it has gotten harder as he has gotten older. Elementary school was hard, but middle school was downright brutal. He's got a lot of issues with confidence, codependency, and empathy. Combine that with not liking things that most teen boys are into (sports, girls, social media, etc.) and he's left out even in groups that initially accept him."

He explained that he and his partner had "encouraged him to join clubs but haven't had much success in forming real friendships that sustain outside of school."

The OP went on to share more heartbreaking details: "I asked him what he wants to do for his birthday tomorrow, and he said he just wants to sleep in without his siblings waking him up. I asked if he wanted to go out to dinner, and he declined. He asked for us to not get him a cake either and doesn't really want his birthday acknowledged. I'm certain it's because of the lack of friends issue. When he was 7, and no one came to his party, we were still able to make it fun for him. I wish he was 7 again."

The post was met with some empathetic comments from Redditors, like one from a commenter named Easilva662 who shared, "My son was the same way. It got better in high school when I put him in a school that did not have any feeder schools. No parties for him either, but we would take him to eat, go for some crazy lavish dessert and give him gift cards that we would then schedule to spend over the next few weekends. He’s 20 now, actually celebrated yesterday (with family) and then took one of his gift cards and 2 of his friends to Denny’s at midnight. He also spent time volunteering at an animal shelter when he was younger. He liked dogs better than people. Can’t say I blame him."

Another named ashleylf90581gmail wrote, "You know I had to follow this thread because I felt like I was reading about my own son. He is extremely antisocial and is proud of being a loner, even though is is sadly alone. He has no interest in friends or even spending time with our family. He’s just as happy being alone in his room with his games. We require two 'commitments' a year during school which is just extra curricular activities, which we usually wind up picking for him. He’s about to start middle school in a new school with all new students, and I’m terrified for him."

Still, even though Ewokiel only seemed to be looking to vent, many Redditors jumped into solution mode. "Yah don’t listen to him," wrote AggsTheCat. "He’s saying he wants love and acceptance and acknowledgement, but that it’s too painful bc he’s being rejected so he’s pushing it away. This is a great time to show him that family will always celebrate him! Let him sleep in and bring him breakfast in bed alone and then tell him what you have planned!"

Other suggested hobbies and activities for the OP's son, but he jumped in to clarify, "He has hobbies. He has interest. He explores those. He just doesn't have friends."

Dragonpaws_ encouraged the OP to let his son do what he wants, writing, "Offer to take him out for lunch. If he says no, then make a sammich. Order in from his favorite restaurant since he declined eating out, get a dessert, watch one of his favorite movies. Just be there for him. He doesn’t have to be excited if he doesn’t feel like it." To that, Ewokiel said, "I am. This was just a rant. Based on the response, I didn't communicate that well enough."

A recent story out of Idaho might serve to reassure this father and others in the same boat. After only one person RSVP-ed to a birthday party for a 9-year-old with autism, an entire football team jumped to action, showed up at the event, and made the boy's day.

Although inviting a whole football team to celebrate with his son might not be the solution for this Redditor, it's heartening to see that communities do rally around parents and children who are struggling to connect. With hope, the OP's son will soon find his very own social circle. In the meantime, judging from this dad's "rant," he can rest assured that he's doing everything he can to support and love his child.

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