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What can I say to my kids when they are heartbroken because they aren’t being invited to things? My son is 16. He’s not on Facebook, but because he’s such a great photographer, his Dad and I agreed he could have an Instagram account. Well, he’s been seeing pictures of his best friends, the ones he socializes with at school and eats lunch with every day. Trouble is, the pictures show a bunch of these friends – at least four or five, on outings to which he was not invited. They are friendly to his face at school, but why don’t they invite him to join them? The same thing happened with his older sister. But I didn’t expect to see it with my son. What can I do to help?
Thank you for your advice,
Dear Concerned Mama,
Ouch! This is painful! Even as an adult, I understand the pain of not being included. It stings. But at 16, this feels overwhelming. He is so lucky he has the kind of relationship with you where he can openly share his feelings with you and have you be so empathetic. Unless we directly ask these other kids why they don’t include him, we won’t know. It could be that he said no to them once or twice, and they never bothered to ask again. It could be that they only had room in the car for five. It could be anything and we may never know. And it doesn’t even matter why. It only matters that your son is hurting and feeling excluded. My suggestions would be to have him invite these friends over for a get-together, or out for pizza. Perhaps once he includes them, they will reply in kind. Or maybe it’s time to make some new friends. Maybe he could take an extracurricular class (photography?) or a sport. Maybe join a social group like Boy Scouts? Is he too old for that? I’d love for him to find a new more inclusive circle of friends. Of course, he does have the option of asking why he’s not being included. That’s not an easy task, and he will need to ready himself for the possibility of a brutally honest answer, or just as likely a dishonest answer said to protect his feelings. Keep up the open communication with him and make sure he’s not feeling lonely. If you think he’s depressed, please see a counselor or therapist.