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Insight: Having strict parents hurt my social skills

Growing up with a strict parent made me miss out on having a social life as a kid and it still affects me today


"Strict parenting can keep children away from possible friends and events, giving them a big disadvantage in developing social skills for later in life." Illustration published on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021.

The words protecting and restricting are not synonymous, but some parents confuse the two when it comes to raising children. 

Growing up, my mother believed sheltering me from harsh realities of the world was the best way she could protect me from heartache and danger. But this couldn't have been farther from the truth.

More often than not, my mother said "no" when I asked to do something with my friends. I can count the number of times my mother actually said "yes" to me on 10 fingers. 

I was the girl who missed out on everyone's childhood dream — attending a sleepover. 

Every time a friend's parents would ask my mother to let me spend the night, my mother would smile, politely decline and come up with some excuse as to why I would be absent.

When we would get home, I would ask again, "Why no?"

"Why would you go sleep in a stranger's bed when you have your own at home," she would respond.

With every "no" my mother uttered, the more my soul was crushed, and as I got older, I only became more persistent.

This would upset my mother, leading to what became the regular quarrel between her and I during my middle and high school years. 

Over time, I would have to psych myself up to ask my mother any question, whether it be to go to the movies, go out to eat or spend the day with a friend. After all, the last thing I wanted to hear her say was my good old enemy, "no."

Even when I asked days, weeks, or even months ahead, my mother would respond with the most typical response.

"Let me think about it."

And on the odd occasion she actually agreed, when the day rolled around, she would come up with some magical excuse as to why I could no longer go. Or she left me feeling bad I would be gone the few times I was allowed to do something, anything. 

This anxious waiting and constantly hearing the word "no" left me with little social life — many people may not have even considered it one to begin with. 

I missed out on building close relationships with many friends because I wasn't allowed to spend time with them outside of school. I wasn't able to make fond memories with them or go on memorable trips, which others around me had done.

It got to the point where I didn't know how to talk to people outside of school or converse about anything other than a school project. 

Going into high school, I felt like I lacked simple social skills, which should have been built at sleepovers and parties.

I was shy and awkward when it came to small talk, and at times I came off as harsh because I would get so nervous talking to people. 

To this day, my social engine can only get me so far. 

I tend to get overly excited when I am around people, but I also feel I have a hard time tolerating them because I am not used to long social interactions.

Sure, coming to college and having to move in with someone I have never known has helped me build up confidence, to be social and patient, but I am still learning what it's like to have close friends. 

Having a roommate has helped me make strides toward social endeavors. I am now accustomed to spending hours at a time interacting with someone.

Conversations with those around me are starting to come naturally. I have acquired the knowledge to know how to keep a conversation going, when I have overstepped and that silence, at times, is a good thing, rather than bad.  

And don't get me wrong, I appreciate my mother's love and care, but I have had to work hard to adapt to my new reality of constant social interaction. It's refreshing to not hear "no" as often as I used to when it comes to doing what I want.

But sadly, I still wince a little when I hear the word.

 Reach the reporter at and follow @adriana_gc_ on Twitter. 

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