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Am I Wrong To Push My Daughter To Be More Outgoing?

The following was written for The Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at [email protected].

I feel like I may be wrong on this one, but my gut is telling me otherwise. My daughter is 14 now, halfway through her first year of high school and she’s killing it. Her first 2 report cards have been outstanding and at the last parent/teacher meeting, all of her teachers praised her work and work ethic.

flickr / Hsing Wei

At home, there’s not much to complain about, either. She does her homework without any nudging and we really don’t get into many arguments, at all. Now, she’s not perfect. Her room is a mess, she’s lazy when it comes to anything she doesn’t have to do, and she does a lot of annoying teenage stuff. But for the overwhelming majority of the time, she’s a gem.

Here’s the thing, though. I really wish that she was a bit more social. I don’t want her to have a million friends, I just wish she’d be more comfortable letting people in her little box. Let me step back for a second. This will make more sense with a bit more context.

We moved in together full time in August, to an apartment away from where she spent most of her life. This means she started high school in an area she didn’t know a soul. All of her friends from elementary and middle school go to high schools far away from where we live, so she’s kind of forced to make all new friends if she hopes to have a social life.

If you read some of my other pieces, you’ll know how this all came about, so I’m not going to get into that again. What I will say is that the change over the past year has been extreme. But that’s even more reason why I really wish she was just a bit more outgoing.

For the overwhelming majority of the time, she’s a gem.

And I try to push her. I tell her to stay after school if she wants. I let her know she can invite any one of her school friends over at any time or day of the week. She has permission to go out on the weekends but spends most at her grandmother’s house.

flickr / Karl Gunnarsson

With all that said, I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing by pushing her to be more social. Maybe that’s just not who she is. Maybe she’ll eventually be a bit more outgoing and I need to back the heck off so she can get there on her own. Or maybe she really needs the push because it will help her adjust a bit more quickly. I actually don’t know the answer.

What I know is that I want what’s best for her. I want her to feel part of something. Yes, she’s loved by my family and I know she feels that. But I also know that most of her time is spent at school and that she’s a 14 year old girl. She has other interests that even I don’t know about. I’m sure of it. So I just want her to have a group of friends she can rely on, talk to, go out with, and even get into a bit of trouble with once in awhile. Not a lot, just here and there.

Right now, I’m kind of in the middle zone. I ask her teachers if she speaks to other kids in class and heard answers from “yeah, she talks a bit,” to “I really don’t know if she talks to anyone.” I’m backing off for now. I’m going to let this year play out and see how it goes. There’s something telling me that I’m pushing too hard and that’s the worst thing I can do.

It’s hard to sit back and watch, but I’ve tried the opposite and I’m not sure it’s helping. If anything, it’s making her more annoyed with me, which is okay, too. I guess the wait and see model is what has to happen, for as long as I can bare it, anyways. I’ll keep you all updated.

Kern Carter is the author of “Thoughts Of A Fractured Soul” and a proud millennial. You can read more from him at

Originally published at on March 1, 2017.




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Kern Carter

Kern Carter

| Read about my life as a full-time writer | Stories about Parenting, Passion, and Profit | Author of BOYS AND GIRLS SCREAMING

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