New Issue!

Spring 2017 Issue ADDitude magazine Read the 'ADHD Therapies That Work' issue now!

The New ADDitude Forums Are Live!

Reach our full community by posting to ADDitude's discussion forums here

Parents of ADHD Teens and Young Adults

Online "Friends"

I am so frustrated with son’s online connections.  The people he connects with are so odd - they are the social outcasts.  Now a girl in another state wants him to go to Prom with her.  She lives 3 hours away, we never met her and her parents are okay with this.  He is a college freshman, I told him no and now he says I am unreasonable.

He asked me for a reason and I just said it is weird and not a good idea.  I don’t need to have any other reasons. 

I need him to make more friends in person, not online.  How do I stop him from living in an alternate world?  He needs to make friends at work and school, not online.  He has friends here in Rhode Island but is a small group.


You say he’s living in an “alternate world”, but you also say that he goes to work and to school and has a small group of friends. Also, he wants to meet someone he met online “in real life”. Those are positive signs that he’s not stuck in living in an “alternate”/virtual world.

Just to play devil’s advocate here: what would happen if you just allow him to make the connections that are meaningful to him and the friendships that click for him?

What do you fear would happen if you just let him be who he is and let him figure that friendship part of his life on his own terms and in his own time?

Joyce Mabe
Parent Coach, school counselor, mom of adult son with ADHD, author

Posted by parentcoachjoyce on Apr 18, 2017 at 4:51pm

You really think it is okay for him to take someone he never met in person to a dance where he has to travel 3 hours one way? 
I didn’t say he couldn’t be in touch with her but she is in high school and he is in college - she is still 17.  Her social media is very weird.

Posted by lmiller on Apr 18, 2017 at 8:03pm

In this day and age it’s not unusual for people to develop friendships online before meeting in person.  So honestly I don’t think that her wanting to go to a dance with him without ever having met him is especially strange. BUT It’s a different issue altogether with there being an age difference and although you haven’t mentioned his exact age, (I am assuming he’s over 18) with her being under age it could present some issues or problems. So I think you are right to express your concerns to him about that.

But the issue you brought up in your first question was related to your desire for him to make more friends off the Internet than on…and your concern about the type of people he is communicating with i.e. social outcasts.

I know as a parent that you have worries and concerns and fears about him. But he’s a young adult now and it’s important that you give him room to make his own decisions—especially about something as personal as who he decides to be friends with.  Something is drawing him to these “social outcasts”.  Maybe he feels like he is one himself and he can relate. Or maybe he feels like he used to be one and he can help them….who knows. But I posted those rhetorical questions in my first answer because I think it’s worth you looking inside yourself to ask yourself what your fears are if you just let him be who he is and make the friends he wants to make.

If and when he starts making his own decisions he of course will make some bad decisions and make some mistakes. But that’s how he will learn and grow.

There’s a great quote that I love about how our job as parents is to give our kids roots and wings. I’m thinking that with your son it might be time for the wings part of that equation.

Joyce Mabe
Parent Coach, school counselor, mom of adult son with ADHD, Author

Posted by parentcoachjoyce on Apr 18, 2017 at 9:04pm

Every teen and young adult uses social media and to find dates. My 18 yr old son met a girl online and they dated for 6 months. It’s not that unusual. I met my husband of 22 years in a person ad (remember those??).

Your son probably feels like a social outcast because of his adhd to begin with and sometimes it’s easier to talk to people online then in person. Lighten up mom and let him be a young adult who in college. Cut the cord. I know it’s hard, my son is leaving for college this fall and I’m dredging it.

Posted by Pink ginger on Apr 19, 2017 at 3:19pm

As Pink Ginger alluded, I was going to say that these online connections that you find “weird” might be his tribe. Lots of kids with ADHD are “quirky” or have intense interests. They often tend to be socially awkward, and meeting online greatly diminishes that issue.

I highly encourage you to post this question to ADDitude’s new discussion forums, as well. I think your question would get a lot of attention in the Teens & Young Adults forum: ADDconnect is transitioning to that new forum.

ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

Posted by adhdmomma on Apr 21, 2017 at 12:42pm

Reply to this thread

You must be logged in to reply. To log in, click here.
Not a member? Join ADDConnect today. It's free and easy!

Not a member yet? Join here »

Search the ADDConnect Group Discussions