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Raising a Socially Awkward Child

Raising A Socially Awkward Child @hsbapost

Sometimes the pressure within to write about a certain subject becomes overwhelming to me…and I feel as if I will burst if I don’t put my thoughts down in concrete form. This is one of those moments.

But it is also a moment where I wrestle with my desire to write about a serious subject. My children are growing up and gaining their own voice. They have their own stories to tell, and when it comes to writing about more difficult matters of parenting and homeschooling, I don’t quite know how I feel about leaving digital footprints for them to find at a later time. In other words, I’m scared. I’m scared of what their reaction might be one day to the feelings and words I wrote “once upon a time” regarding their struggles in life.

But if I’m true to myself, I feel like this topic needs to be discussed and shared with other moms who may be going through a similar battle now or in the future.

Today I’d like to talk about raising a socially awkward child. Trust me, even typing the words “socially awkward” brought me pain. I fear the term itself is too judgmental or too harsh. But, it is accurate, I think…at least for our child.

I am the mom to three wonderful, precious, lovely children. Like any other kids on the planet, they are each unique. They are gifted with different talents and each of them have their own personal struggles. But as life would go on this sinful planet, some burdens are harder to carry than others.

My oldest child struggles with social skills and making friends. She’s twelve now, and in the throes of adolescence. She is learning, in very painful ways, that life can be cruel and people can be mean. This time of life is hard for any child, but it’s especially difficult for the socially awkward child.

She has struggled her entire life with being social and dealing with social situations. At a few junctures, we tried to put a label on it. We visited several child psychologists & therapists and we were given a different answer and diagnosis by each. I won’t go into details about that to protect her privacy, but let’s just say it was not a pleasant process for us.

One doctor in particular just wanted to prescribe her a combo of medications to adjust her personality to fit societal norms. We reluctantly tried it. It was, I think, the worst decision of my entire motherhood career. For weeks, I watched my child slip away from her creative and sweet self, into a quiet, dark, and isolated world. She was flat. Without emotion.

We decided we’d take the social awkwardness over her drugged and coma-like state any day of the week. We promptly stopped medications, and thankfully, our daughter’s sweet personality came back to us. I’m not saying medication is wrong. It was just not the right path for us, especially the kind of pharmaceutical drug our “trusted” provider was endorsing.

Because of her problems with being social and making friends, she has been bullied, harassed, and made fun of. I could tell you about a thousand stories, but I don’t have the space here. Let’s just say we’ve endured lots of taunting, name-calling, online bullying, and face-to-face meanness. Through all of it, she has endured. It has made her, and us, I think stronger. I would change it in a heartbeat if I could, but alas I cannot. So I look for the silver lining.

I share all of this with you because we live in a day and age where the socially awkward child is quickly labeled and judged by others. We want to fix everything. But some things aren’t to be fixed, or aren’t broken to begin with. Instead of fixing everyone else’s children, we need to focus more on our own. We need to focus on making our children more compassionate and loving. We need to teach our children that everyone is unique, different, and the best way to get to know someone is to meet them where they are.

I’ve spent the better part of twelve years fighting stereotypes about homeschooled kids. I’ve tried to get neighbors, strangers, and even friends and family to embrace my child for who she is. Some have, but many have not. For those that cannot, or choose not to accept her different-ness, I’ve had to learn to make peace with that. I’ve walked away from friendships and even from a few family members who think putting her in “real” school would fix all of our problems. (For the record, she did attend public for 2 years and it only exacerbated her social problems.)

I guess the entire point of my rambling can be summed up by saying – my child *IS* the “weird homeschooled kid” society loves to joke about. The problem with a joke is, someone or something has to be the punchline. The moral of my story is to keep being diligent. Keep fighting the stereotypes. Keep the faith. Keep loving your child for WHO they are. Embrace their unique personalities and respect others who are also fighting a hard battle.

Lindsey (8 Posts)


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Comments

  1. Thank you for this. I really needed to read this today.

  2. Great post. My 7 year old son is a socially awkward child and he doesn’t care. I need to not care, but it’s hard! The other day I was pushing him to go somewhere to “meet new friends” and he replied, “I don’t want any new friends.”

  3. This is a great post! As a tutor who often works with what the world labels “socially awkward” children and the friend of homeschool mother who has raised three creative, brilliant children who don’t conform to typical social pressures, I feel that the issue here is not the “socially awkward child” but the outside pressures they face to be something they aren’t–to be more outspoken, to be more social with their age group, etc.
    My answer to students who ask me how to deal with that social awkwardness is this: be yourself. What might seem like social awkwardness in your adolescence and teens can actually become part of what makes you an awesome adult.
    I too was once a socially awkward teen–very quiet, super nerdy, and not interested in having friends in my age group or doing traditional “teen” things. High school was rough, yes, but the same traits that isolated me from my peers then are now what make me a more well-rounded and interesting adult. I made friends like me–introverts and less conventional people who understand that you don’t have to fit social norms to be a well-adjusted person. And I became a more self-aware person who celebrates and nourishes people‚Äôs unique personalities, rather than pressuring others to fit a certain mold.
    So think of this social awkwardness as the groundwork for a very rich and fulfilling adult life!

  4. Great post! I have a social butterfly and a socially awkward child, the butterfly unkowing makes the awkwardness more noticeable. What I find though is that my awkward child is developing an inner strength that I don’t see in my butterfly, a confidence in who she is. For us as mothers its hard to see the disappointments and hurts, but they know they have a safe harbor in Mom and they know they can always turn to us.

    • Thank you Joesette for this comment. Its true and while I struggle with what the outside world sees, I need to allow her to flourish inside herself and inside our home. What a wonderful reminder.

  5. And isn’t it true that, honestly, we’re all awkward in one way or another? And if you’re not, maybe your awkwardness is pride? Homeschooling has kept my children from caring about people’s differences. They don’t judge because they were never taught to judge. They embrace everyone – and the friends they love the most would be labeled “not quite right” by the world. I’m grateful that they love unconditionally because they don’t know that people are “supposed to be” anything. We are only supposed to be the best that God intended. Thank you, Lindsay, for sharing your courage and helping me find my own. God bless your family.

  6. Christine says:

    Thanks so much for sharing! I have a ‘shy’ child, but he has blossomed so much through homeschooling! Everyone is different. I went to school with brilliant people who were socially awkward; they’re married and have families. God has plans for every child, and like Anne B. said, we’re only supposed to be the best ‘us’ that we can be, and we’ve all got our own hang-ups!

  7. I am and always have been an incredibly shy person, and being in public school certainly didn’t change that. I have one child who is definitely the image of myself, and my baby looks like she may be as well. The only one of my children who doesn’t seem to have difficulty is my oldest son, and he never met a person (or thing :P) he didn’t mind talking to…the kid seriously lovesssss to chat! But, it’s a part of who they are. My younger two have always been that way, the elder is almost in kindergarten – so homeschool definitely did not do that to them. But, being me, I know in my heart that it’s something they inherited and I’m not apologizing for it. My bashful little girl is adorable, and I’m not gonna try to change them! Teach them good manners and trying to help them when they need – yes. But forcing them into being someone they aren’t – I don’t think that’s ever the answer, no matter the “norm.” If we were all the ‘norm’ it’d be a boring world :D

    Thanks for sharing!!

  8. I have one of those stereotypical homeschooled kids, too. I admit to feeling a little bit touchy about it at times, because people seem to think that a) this is all my fault for homeschooling and b) there’s something wrong with it. Some kids are loners. Some are very shy. Some have aspergers. Some kids are just quirky. It’s ok!

    I went to public schools with severe social anxiety and selective mutism. With my high IQ and strict Christian upbringing (which I’m glad I had) I was so much the fish out of water that I was severely depressed until I was a grown up, thinking that I was irredeemably broken. When I realized that the artificial environments of schools (and a lot of other institutions) were such hostile places to the quiet mind and the sensitive child that I was set up for failure, I finally broke free of my upbringing and realized that it’s ok to be different. It might even be better, at times.

    I’m glad I’ve got my quiet, awkward child at home with me, where he can have time to grow and bloom, rather than in school where he’ll only be treated as a problem because he doesn’t fit.

  9. Thank you for sharing such a personal struggle.

    The homeschooling community is so diverse and I often say to people that there are many parents homeschool BECAUSE their children are socially awkward rather than homeschooling causing kids to be socially awkward.

    My kids have a few social struggles and as a parent, it’s heartbreaking and even moreso when others can’t looked past their own judgements to just love you and your child.

    The good news is we all grow up and the adult world is much nicer and I’m sure your daughter will find where she fits in due time! There’s always hope!

  10. Hey all – thank you SO MUCH for chiming in and sharing your hearts. It was a very hard thing for me to write about. I never want my kids to read my words and think something is ‘wrong’ with them. I worry about the digital footprint I leave behind for them to find one day, if that makes sense.

    I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one who has to face this and I appreciate so much your words of encouragement.

    Thanks for blessing ME today! :)

  11. I LOVE your heart and this post! Thanks for being so open and real! Your kids are blessed!!

  12. Hi There! First I want to thank you very much for being so open about your baby and your family’s struggle with this issue. You, my friend have just done what many bloggers WISH they could do….just be real. I applaud you for that. I want to encourage you….as you may already know, no two children are the same and everyone has their own personalities. Even though your daughter struggles with socializing the so called “normal” way…it’s really OK! I don’t like the fact that the “adults” have become the bullies and don’t even realize it (go figure)! By the way, what’s wrong with the kids that have spent their ENTIRE life in “regular” school but, have social issues or are shy??? The answer…Nothing. I’m sure your daughter will make friends with those she chooses…and to be perfectly honest, we could all take a lesson from her…Just because you see someone, it does not automatically make them friend material. God bless you for all your motherly instincts. You are doing a wonderful job and so is she. Blessings

  13. God bless you Lindsey! I love that you have the guts to walk away from toxic relationships! God gave her to you for a reason! And He’s got THE most awesome plan for her life … being socially acceptable, sometimes, ain’t all its cracked up to be.

  14. Thank you so much for posting this. Our 13 year daughter was in public school from pre-school through most of 5th grade, when we finally pulled her out. I do wish we would’ve pulled her out sooner, or better yet, never put her in public school. Our daughter has ADHD, and we, too, tried medicines when she was younger. It wasn’t worth it. She had the personality of 2×4 board. She is immature for her age in the “socially normal” world. She has been bullied, too. She doesn’t have any friends outside our homeschool group, and unfortunatley those friends live out of town. We even spoke to the counselor, principal and teachers while she was in public school to address the bullying. We were told that it was their age group and it was common! UGH! One teacher told me that pulling her out to homeschool was not the answer! Our daughter is much happier at home and with her homeschool peers. Yes, she is socially awkward, immature for her age, etc, but we love her. She is ours. She shows kindness to all and has a loving nature. Once again thank you so much for sharing your story, and big ol’ virtual hugs to ya! God Bless you! Now, if we could find that perect curriculum for her… :)

  15. Thank you for writing this. I appreciate your diligence to your children and it’s always good to know that I’m/we’re not alone. I wish you and your family the best. Thanks for shining and being who you are, especially when it’s hard. I believe it makes you shine all the more.

    With love and gratitude,
    Rachael

  16. Thank you for this post. I struggle between thoroughly enjoying my daughter’s individual weirdness (which is partially encouraged by her parent’s weirdness) and trying to figure out how to help/make her fit in. She has to deal with some flak when she attends P.E. and music at the public school. It doesn’t help that she’s a weird girl who’s gorgeous. For some reason that raises the attack level, especially from the girls. But, anyways, thank you for a post that was encouraging and reassuring. As you said, some things aren’t broken to begin with. Thank you.
    Ana

  17. Thank you for this post. Never let anyone tell you that homeschooling has made your child awkward. My son, now 12, has been in public school for his entire school-career and that experience has not made him “better”. In fact, it has managed to hurt and quiet his uniqueness, so much so, that we are going to begin homeschooling all three of our boys next fall. I no longer want my children to “be like everyone else”, I want them to be who God intended them to be.

  18. Thank you for writing this. I have found myself worried sick over whether my child will mature “properly” or develop the skills he needs. He is also socially awkward and always has been. But he is so much more than that. He is kind creative and funny. Than you for reminding me that maybe it will take longer for him not because of him hit because of society.

  19. Thank you so much for your post. My 6 1/2 year-old daughter is “socially awkward” and has been that way for some time. She has yet to learn to pick up on cues that her behavior can be annoying (teachers and children have stated this) and at times unacceptable. She is a very sweet girl, but can definitely be a bit too rambunctious at times. My husband was the same way when he was younger and admits that he sees a lot of himself in our daughter. It just breaks my heart that her peers don’t see the good qualities in her and I truly worry that if she doesn’t learn to “tone” her enthusiasm down, that she will eventually become a victim of bullying…

    Several of her past teachers have used the ADHD label and alluded to putting her on meds. As a previous poster mentioned, I’d rather have my sweet & lively girl, instead of a zombie.

  20. Socially awkward is made up word for people who can’t handle different people, situations are only awkward if you let them be, so ironically the people who feel the awkwardness are the ones who aren’t supposedly awkward, If you can’t handle someone because they have a speech impediment, lisp ect. Maybe you need to work on something

  21. A big thank you! It’s so encouraging to hear of other mothers on the same path as I am, dealing with the same challenges.

  22. Thank you so much for writing this post. I have a wonderful, creative, smart, “socially awkward” 13-year old daughter. She has attended public school, private school and home school. She is who she is in every environment. I love and admire her for who she is. But sometimes I just wish, for her sake, that she could make friends more easily. It can be heartbreaking to watch the loneliness. It is so comforting to simply read a post from someone who understands this journey.

  23. THANK YOU! This article was very much needed. I have a 9 year old whom has since birth been very “Unique”, but able to carry out tasks, redirectable and highly intelligent. He has always had problem relating to other children and often is isolated even within a crowd of children. The most ironic part is he appears unbothered. As you stated, children who have this awkwardness have a different level of self confidence- I am only hoping it continues throughout his Adolescent years. As a Single, parent this has taken me through a world wind of emotions..but mainly fear of how other children perceive him and/or react to his personality. I hope you continue to share your experiences with us! I can’t thank you enough for your article!

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