A wallflower mom tries to navigate her social-butterfly daughter’s world

Hiding behind a Kindle is OK, writes Carolyn Hax. But look up from time to time to facilitate daughter’s friendships and show her the importance of getting out of our comfort zones. Bonus: Introvert reader might make a few new friendships.

Dear Carolyn

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

DEAR CAROLYN: So I am an introvert, and it has taken me years to finally accept this and allow myself to be happy alone, rather than constantly trying to appease my extroverted family with attempts to socialize that ultimately just made me feel like a wallflower.

It isn’t that I don’t like people. I just don’t enjoy big parties. I love small get-togethers with good friends, or even a person I don’t know so well, as long as there is a chance to talk without feeling overwhelmed by the numbers.

My son is like me, but my daughter got the extrovert gene, and has more friends than hairs on her head. She seems to thrive in big crowds, and has no issues joining one and asking to play, even when she does not know them. She is still at an age in which I need to supervise her social engagements, and I often feel like the odd person out in the mother groups, who seem to know each other and can chat easily with each other while I hide behind my Kindle.

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Any advice for this wallflower mother as she tries to navigate her social-butterfly daughter’s activities?

— Introvert

DEAR INTROVERT: My advice for any child-rearing-related problem that (1) is not dangerous, merely taxing/annoying, and (2) will eventually go away, is to give yourself permission to piece together ways to get through it. So, yeah, Kindle.

But do step away from it sometimes for limited stretches. It’ll facilitate your daughter’s deeper friendships — kids get invited many places through parents — and model for her the importance of getting out of our comfort zones. Even if she doesn’t understand it now,…

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