How to Tell your Parents You’re Struggling Socially

It’s no secret that times have changed since your parents were teens. Back when they were in high school, it seems like making and losing friends was a little less complicated. No one had to try and figure out the emotions intended by a text message. Facebook and Instagram were years, even decades from being invented. And there wasn’t a constant flood of pop culture news through the internet, magazines, and an excess of celebrity gossip shows that they needed to keep up with in order to be considered cool.

So it’s easy to think that your parents just don’t get it when it comes to why you’re struggling to make friends. You may also think that you can’t, or just shouldn’t, talk to them about how hard it is for you to fit in. But that’s not true.

While times may have changed since your parents were navigating the social scene at their middle or high school, odds are that they experienced conflicts in their social lives too. It is even possible that they found themselves feeling lonely growing up.

Internet or no internet, social drama has been around for ages and your parents have most likely been a part of it. But that’s not the only reason to consider sharing your problems with them.

In addition to being a supporter and a confident, your parents can also offer guidance about how to overcome a bad social situation. They can direct you to resources, suggest activities you could participate in, and even help you learn to develop the skills you need to lead a more successful social life.

Of course, opening up about your trouble making friends may not be the easiest thing. Even when you’re talking to people you trust, like your parents. So to help you have the best and most productive conversation possible, we’ve put together some tips.

Take a look:

1. Be Honest: Resist the urge to gloss things over. While it might make you feel a little awkward or embarrassed to tell your parents what is going on, they can’t help unless they fully understand the situation. So tell them the truth.
2. Be specific about what you need help with: Your parents don’t have the advantage of seeing your social situation in action. So you need to help them understand the major problems that need to be addressed. For example, having nowhere to sit at lunch is something worth sharing, but it’s also important to share some possible reasons why this is happening. Are you having trouble starting conversations? Are you struggling to find things in common with the other kids? Are you afraid you’ll be rejected if you sit down at a table with others? Have you been bullied? Keep in mind that your parents aren’t in the cafeteria with you, so the more you can tell them about what’s causing the problem, the better they will be at helping you think of solutions.
3. Be open for a discussion: Remember, your parents are new to the situation, so they probably won’t have the perfect solution right away. If their advice sounds like it won’t work, or if they suggest something you’ve already tried, talk to them about that. Don’t just write them off, and assume they can’t help after all. Give feedback on their suggestions. They need to know what you’ve tried, and what you’re up against if they’re going to help you arrive at a lasting solution.
4. Talk about your goals: Don’t just talk about the problems, but also talk about the goals you have for your social life. Let them know about the kind of social life you envision and the type of friends you’d like to have. Your parents will be able to tell you if these are good goals to have, or if you should consider adjusting them for goals that will make you happier in the long run. Also, if they have a good idea of where you’d like to end up, they can better help you figure out how to get there.

Opening up about the trouble you’re having making friends isn’t always easy. But it’s important to remember that your parents are there to help. They want you to have a healthy social life, and they want to you to feel supported and accepted. By helping them to fully understand the situation and asking for help in the areas you’re struggling with, you can take a big step in the right direction. In addition to being a comfort to you, your parent can also offer guidance, and lead you toward resources that can help you overcome problems and build some really great friendships.

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Isa Marrs is the Founder and Executive Director of the Where I Can Be Me® social skills program. She is a board-certified speech-language pathologist who specializes in pragmatic language (social skills) disorders in children. Read More