Social outcast or just off the bell curve?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  June 27, 2011 06:00 AM

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What do you think about a 14-year-old, 8th-grade girl who lacks interest in going to all junior high dances at her public junior high school, including the big, end-of-year semi-formal dance that even her close friends will attend, with a small party before and after at one girl's house? She has not gone to any dances -- I believe there have been 6 or 8 dances. Would you worry as a mother? This is a friend's daughter, and my gut tells me there may be something to worry about, something to talk about, but I don't know -- I wonder if it's maybe in the realm of normal and I am just falling prey to peer pressure -- i.e., "since 99% of the students go, it must be good" sort of thing and "whoever doesn't go is a loser" sort of thing .... My friend asked me if she should worry and I really don't know the answer...

From: MG, Cape Cod

Dear MG,

I certainly empathize with this mom and her worries -- we all wish for our kids to be socially "normal," whatever that is. But the truth is, it sounds like these are the adults' worries, not the child's. You say she has some close friends and that she is simply choosing not to go to these social events. And yet ... she isn't losing her friends because she doesn't go, is she?

Kids mature at different rates and some, let's face it, are never the belle of the ball, or even want to attend that darn ball. That doesn't mean there is something "wrong." What this girl needs is to know her mom loves her unconditionally, whether she's in the social mix or not. It may take her a few more years to find her stride and her stride may never be what her mom's was, or what her mom might wish for her. As long as a girl/boy this age has a close friend or two, I wouldn't worry. It would be different if she were moping and wishing she could go, or saying that she feels left out. I don't see that in your letter.

Readers, what do you think?

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1 comments so far...
  1. I agree with Barbara. Sounds like she just isn't interested in junior high school dances. Please do not make this out to be a big deal or something that is "not normal". Not all kids like the same things, and adults need to realize that (sometimes I think adults are worse at this than kids).

    I went to one junior high dance as a kid. I was bored the entire time and hated it so never went to another. Maybe she feels the same. Why doesn't the mom just simply ask her why she doesn't go?

    Posted by mk July 5, 11 12:16 PM
 
1 comments so far...
  1. I agree with Barbara. Sounds like she just isn't interested in junior high school dances. Please do not make this out to be a big deal or something that is "not normal". Not all kids like the same things, and adults need to realize that (sometimes I think adults are worse at this than kids).

    I went to one junior high dance as a kid. I was bored the entire time and hated it so never went to another. Maybe she feels the same. Why doesn't the mom just simply ask her why she doesn't go?

    Posted by mk July 5, 11 12:16 PM
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About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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