“I’d love it if she just knocked on her neighbor’s door and introduced herself.” my Husband said. He’d said this phrase about 15 times during the four days of drop off/parent orientation.

“You’re obsessed with her making friends.” I replied.

“WHY WOULDN’T I BE?! I JUST WANT HER TO BE HAPPY!”

We hadn’t even reached the Jersey Turnpike and we’d already had our first empty nest fight.

Seeing my daughter cry when we said good bye unnerved him. He’d already been sad, and that just undid him. I obviously understand his feelings: after all, she’s my baby too….

But here’s the problem. If you talked to my daughter, she was/is not worried about making friends. She was/is worried about academics. My Daughter is used to being the smart one, the kid who got great grades. Now, well, it’s a different fishbowl. Now every student graduated in the top 10% of their class, they all were 99th percentile in standardized tests, they were all captains and presidents and showered with accolades. She’s most worried that she won’t be able to keep up….that’s why she’s anxious.

The friends thing: first off, my daughter has never been the “popular” girl. But, she had friends, good friends, all the way through school. She had kids that she could rely on, who were solid. She might not be a social butterfly, but she is very able to make acquaintances and friendships. This wasn’t really a worry.

“SHE NEEDS TO GO OUT OF HER COMFORT ZONE.” was the next comment he screamed.

I looked over to him. “She’s in a new city and state. She’s sharing a room with someone she met on Friday. She’s about to take college level classes. She needs to find out where the CVS is. Cleaning her own bathroom. Doing her own laundry. Figuring out how best to organize her time now that everything is different.” I took a deep breath. “Do you think any of that is in her comfort zone?”

He relaxed a little.  “It would still be nice if she went out of her way to meet people.”

Which led me to my next thought, which was clearly a bubble in my head because I didn’t want to engage in the introvert/extravert see saw. Why do people think being an introvert is bad? Why do they want to change us? Why is it bad that my daughter has no interest in knocking on people’s doors?

Why does he think my daughter needs to change?

Why can’t he accept who she is?

As a parent, you need to love and accept your child for who they are. If your child is introverted, you can’t make them change. And obviously, there are a thousand other examples of allowing your kids to nurture their nature. They are who they are: accept them, love them and help them become the best person they can be.

On a side note. My daughter has the greatest roommate. She has been hanging out in the floor common room and met a bunch of nice kids. She contacted a girl she met during the roommate search and is meeting her for coffee. She’s doing fine socially.

Classes began yesterday and so far, so good. Her professors seem nice, though she found out that “Bleak House” is a thousand pages long so she’s not too thrilled about that….

And there you go…..

 

 

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44 thoughts on “The First Fight

  1. I think sometimes people can be judgmental very quickly about people. I have noticed this trait in my stepson with his children and with his ability to quickly diagnosis people’s personality and tendencies. Not everyone is an open book. I am sure she will find her groove.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. In a sweeping generalization I’ll declare that men often struggle with the empty nest more than women. At least that was the case in our nest. Before our son left for college six years ago, I thought (and wrote) about it for months before we actually dropped him off at his freshman dorm. (He did not walk us out, either, BTW.) It felt strange and disorienting not to have him in the house, but I’d contemplated how strange and disorienting it would be, ahead of time. My husband had not. I think it was much tougher for him than he’d realized.

    Wishing your daughter a fabulous first year and best to you and your husband as you adjust.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. ‘Bleak House’ is good – definitely one of his best. I’m sure your daughter will love it once she gets into it. Yes, everything is out of your daughter’s comfort zone at the moment. She’ll be okay. No one has friends at the moment – like will recognise like. Your poor husband. I bet he wishes he could do it for her!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Sounds like she’s doing just fine on her own so far! I don’t think she’ll have any problems making friends (I didn’t, and I’m the introvert of introverts). As long as her new friends respect her need to have some solitary down time, she’ll do just fine.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Your husband is reflecting his insecurities. He would have made friends so he wants her to so she won’t be lonely. I always told my kids to not try to make their roommates their BFFs, better that they just get along. Friends need to come naturally meeting them in a class, the laundry room, the bookstore or at an event. Your husband is missing his daughter and he wants her to be surrounded by friends.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I hear yoga is good for stress relief-maybe sign the husband up for a class 😉
    I hope that it gets easier for him, (and consequently you as well) or even better, that he can find his own way to reflect on these changes and come to terms with this new aspect of life.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. As an introvert, especially an anxious one, being told I need to just talk to people more does not make things better. If anything, it stresses me out more because it is something I’m already very aware of. I was like this WAY back when I was in high school. Even then I knew what I “should” do. I wasn’t that stupid. Actually doing it was way different. I have encouraged my own introverted kids to attempt to find ways around it because I know the struggles, but the only times I’ve really pushed it was when they made it clear they personally wanted to make changes. Then, we would discuss options of what might work for them. It is stressful enough going through all of these changes. The added parental expectations do not help. I get it. We are parents. We are absolutely going to worry. It’s in the job description and coded into our DNA. Sometimes we just need to remember, it isn’t about us.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Spouse and I had the EXACT same conversations last week when we dropped our oldest off at college. I kid you not, down to the same words used in the arguments. BTW – my son is doing great one week in…he has a few people to hang out with, has been walking the hallway, etc, which he’s balanced by hanging out in his room alone, as he does. First football game this Saturday, and I’m guessing some things might change. Good for you, Momma!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. You should have hubby watch the TED talk link I just posted with my last blog, with my latest book review Quiet. I should have added that the book isn’t just for introverts, it’s also for extroverts who might be trying to understand an introvert spouse (or child), which is most couples. After all, opposites attract! It’s well worth the 20 minutes.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I remember my son wanted to come home after his first week. I was surprised, since he had always been so into his academics in high school. It was more to the point he didn’t think he would ‘fit in’. Welp, he found a friend and then a couple more and ended up having the time of his life.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. As long as he only says those things to you, it’s ok. Saying it to your daughter will only make matters worse. As an introvert myself, I stopped telling my mom things because I didn’t want to hear about everything I was doing wrong. She’ll be fine and will find what works for her, which is all that really matters. I think it’s great she’s more concerned with her studies. She’ll be better off in the long run. Good luck!!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Personally, I think your kid is one of the most well adjusted kids I’ve known. However, daddies and there baby girls? Yeah, daddy is freaking out over the fact that his little princess is growing up and doesn’t “need” him to protect her anymore. Men🤨😘

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I’m sure she’ll figure it out. But I’l share my niece’s experience. Her classmates referred to her as “Grandma” in college because she never went out and partied. Even her mother was upset by her lack of social life. Today, she is getting in doctorate in chemistry at Harvard. So I guess she had her priorities straight. Stay loose. It all works out.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah. I’m not the most social person in the world, but I have the most amazing friends including college friends I talk to weekly, my guess is she’ll be fine. The word on her school is that it’s definitely got partyers, but has a lot of studiers as well

      Liked by 1 person

  14. My daughter being an only, I cared very much that she had good friends. She did, mostly, although there were a couple of hard lessons along the way. Even as an out-and-out extravert, I’ve always got that we each have to do it our own way. But then people – and understanding their individual needs – has always been my thing.

    It’s a sweeping gender generalisation, but one I think works here – women are more inclined to understanding & empathy, while men need to DO something – a need your husband was madly projecting onto your daughter. I’m sure he’ll get there in time.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I’m always interested in how managing one’s anxiety manifests in one’s behavior. Thank you for providing a concrete example.
    Clearly that exchange was more about your husband than your girl, but you seemed to manage yourself well.
    This was always going to be a tricky time, my wish for you is that you navigate it with love and grace.
    You got this!
    And for those moments when you haven’t, may the Force be with you. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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