Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: I have a 20-year-old daughter who has no friends. She is shy and insecure but also tough and opinionated. We live in a remote area. Her job is very sporadic. She’s a freelance artist and floats around without getting a chance to get established in any one place. My daughter and I are very close, and I’m trying to get her to take a couple of classes at the local synagogue or community college, but she said that idea just reminds her that she has no friends. Her friends from high school are scattered all over the country. She’s funny, fit and a great person. Any ideas? — Concerned Mom
DEAR CONCERNED: The phase of young adulthood is one of growth, change and questioning. It is the ideal time for your daughter to try to dig deeper in terms of understanding her own actions and motivations. I agree that taking classes is a great idea, but only if the class is in a subject she is genuinely interested in and not purely as a way to meet a friend. Randomly meeting new people will not yield friendships if your daughter lacks the insight and tools to maintain friendships.
Your daughter might be an introvert. You should read (and share) the book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain (Broadway Books, 2013). This is a groundbreaking look at introversion that finally explains what it means to be introverted in a noisy world and, most important, how it feels to be an introvert. There is nothing wrong with being an introvert; it is simply a way of being that is not widely understood and appreciated. If your daughter recognized herself in this way, it could be a game changer for her.
DEAR AMY: My wife and I have three children, now all in their 40s. While our daughter has always gotten on well with both her brothers, the boys are very competitive with each other. Although comparably educated, the younger son’s career took off early, and he is quite wealthy. While he doesn’t really flaunt this, clearly he has a large home with a swimming pool, fancy cars, etc. His children go to private schools, they travel extensively, and his daughter has a horse. They have been quite generous to us over the years. They’ve air-conditioned our house, made other repairs and pay for a yard service and a cleaning lady. We’ve turned down more generous offers because we are happy with our current standard of living. My wife thinks he should be more generous to his brother and sister, but I disagree. No one is destitute. He works hard for his money and should spend it as he sees fit. She also thinks we should be more generous to the older two in an effort to close the gap, but again I disagree. I can’t imagine broaching this topic and think it would only cause further problems between our two sons. What are your thoughts on this? — Should Sleeping Dogs Lie?
DEAR SLEEPING: I am squarely with you. Your wife’s instinct to keep everything fair and square denies all of your adult children the ability to make their own choices and be in charge of their own destinies. If they are solvent and happy, then all of your children are successful. Putting so much focus on your son’s material success diminishes the validity of the others’ choices.
Using your wife’s logic, if your wealthier son air-conditioned your home, he (or you) should then air-condition his siblings’ homes. This is not redressing inequities but rather reminding the other two that you see them as needy and somehow inferior.
Your youngest son is helping the whole family by helping you in your elder years. By doing this he is removing burdens that might (theoretically) fall to the others in the future. His generosity is also enabling you to bequeath more wealth to all of your children, if that is what you choose to do.
DEAR AMY: Responding to the letter from “Social Network Awkwardness,” whose sister was trying to control her Facebook page, I created a second account just for family and longtime family friends.
Now all are happy. I can keep in touch with my aunts, cousins and old friends, and still keep my real friends. — Happy
DEAR HAPPY: You can also place different groups of people into different Facebook groups under one account.