Published in Identity Magazine – March 2014
"I am a mother of an only child. My girl is everything to me! I am not exactly a social butterfly but I enjoy doing everything with my baby girl. But now I fear that this might have affected her negatively. She is very shy and an introvert and doesn't have any friends at all. She just started college and I don't want her to miss out on great experiences! Is this my fault for being too close to her?
First of all I would like to salute you on such a wonderful relationship that you have with your daughter! Such a strong bond between a mother and a daughter is rare to find this days and I would interpret this as the outcome of great work and dedication for many years! There is one thing – just one thing – that I found alarming with the way you phrased your message to me; you referred to your college daughter as your "baby girl"!
I know that a mother will always think of her babies as "her babies" no matter how young or how old they are but to actually spell it out in an email is a bit over the board. I would not "blame" you for the f act that your daughter is shy and introverted; this is the character she was born with. She had so many chances to mingle and build various social relationships but her nature is not geared towards engagement and socializing.
Here is how you could help her open up to the world a little bit:
1) Set an example!
Let her watch you build and maintain friendships! Allow her to mingle with you and your friends in outings, shopping sprees, and causal trips.
2) Be a bridge!
Become a bridge between her world with you and her world without you! Encourage her to invite one or two girls she likes to your house, to your outings, to your lunches, to your visits to the mall, and to some family events like birthdays and anniversaries.
3) Get involved!
Enroll – the two of you – in a community building activity! Choose some sort of charity work or public service activities and start together. Let he watch you go out of your comfort zone and try something totally new. Show her that it is fun and that people could be fun to work with.
In a few years she will join the work force and will have to interact with people on various levels of intimacy. Start now with my advice to avoid shocking her after graduation. Do not think of this as "fixing" your daughter or "correcting" your mistake; think of it as an extension to your role as a great mother and extra fun activities to enjoy with your daughter.