• Few or No Friends

My son has no close friends

Published: October 8, 2011 | Last Updated: September 28, 2013 By | 11 Replies Continue Reading


Hi Irene,

I hope you can help. I’m sure this is a common problem. My 12-year-old, going on 13, and has no close friends. He’s a nice kid, a good kid. He has had some good friends in elementary school in the past, but was switched in his classes each year so every time he made a friend, he wasn’t in the same class with that child the next year and it fell apart.

Last year, he started middle school and met some new kids but got in trouble with them. This year he doesn’t seem to hang with them. He doesn’t have a best friend; he is never invited over to other kids’ houses or for overnights. This has been true since about fourth grade when he never asked for friends to come over or got asked to stay over much with other kids.

He’s refused to really talk about it and just says “It’s fine, Mom!” Unfortunately, there have been problems at home between my husband and me. We also don’t have much of a social life. I visit friends outside the home, like going to dinner with friends, but my son may be reluctant to bring anyone home.

I know that he does talk to kids at school and I’m pretty sure he’s not ostracized there. The kids he calls “friends” asked him to join the 7th grade football team but outside of seeing kids at school, there is no other social interaction.

I want him to develop healthy relationships but between home difficulties and his teen avoidance, I don’t know what to do. I feel badly about him being left out.

Also, we are not members of a church or synagogue, which are big social drivers in our town but I know other parents aren’t either so I can’t tie it just to that He is playing football at school so I am hoping he’ll have more opportunities meeting new friends.

Thanks for any help our direction you can give me,



Dear Jackie,

Entering middle school is a big adjustment both for both teens and for their parents. I don’t know how large your school system is but students are typically thrown into a much larger pool of kids than they were used to in elementary school—at a time when many are feeling self-conscious and awkward. This transition can be particularly difficult for those who tend to be shy or who have to work harder at making new friends.

Also bear in mind that some teens, by virtue of personality, tend to be more comfortable being alone than with others. If your son seems “fine” with his more limited network of friends, make sure you aren’t transferring your own needs and/or insecurities onto him. Are there any signs of him not doing well in school or actively avoiding being with people his age?

If you do sense something is truly wrong, dig deeper. Your son may be uncomfortable in inviting friends over if there is a high level of conflict in your home. Young people can be very attuned to their parents’ moods and may be reluctant to add to their stress. If your concerns persist, you might want to consider having him talk to someone outside of the family.

In the meantime, it’s great that he’s made the football team. Just continue to support and encourage him without pressuring him unnecessarily. He may just well grow into middle school and a more active social life when he is ready.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

Other posts on The Friendship Blog about teen friendships:

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Comments (11)

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  1. Justin says:

    Hi my names Justin and I’m a sophomore in high school. I have a lot of friends in school but few outside of it so I understand your sons feelings. I’ve always been pretty shy and never really talked much. I went from a small private elementary and middle school to a huge public high school where i know no one. Just trust me its tough making friends especially when your shy. Personally I kind have grown out of being shy I defiantly talk a lot more which is really the key but when I’m uncomfortably or out of the norm I kind of go back to just not talking. Just talking to people in school a lot of times is enough though, yeah I’d like more friends outside of school, but at least for me I’m kind of fine just being by myself. I can tell you for a fact, however, the worst thing you can do is push to hard. When your shy your very under-confident with what you say afraid of what others thing of you but most of the time just don’t know what to say. So being pushed to hard is awful especially when you know you don’t have tons of friends and are unsuccessful making more. It’ll be tough but I recommend just to putting to much pressure and maybe recommending some more after school activities but don’t force it. Putting him in an uncomfortable and unfamiliar situation will just make things worse.

  2. nelly says:

    Hi im am very worried my son has not been able to really make friends he is in first grade and he had kinder and pre school and he just wasnt social ive been trying to find other moms whose kids have similiar issues in monterey ca but no luck

    • Irene says:


      Have you spoken to your son’s teacher to find out what her thoughts her regarding your son?

      Best, Irene

  3. Nayo says:


    I’ve been reading articles and responses and the responses avoid the problem the writer talks about. These kids have NO friends. I wouldnt be worried if my son even had ONE friend. Same as above but my son isn’t skilled at any sport or art. I hate going to churches but we went in attempts to increase our social circle for him to meet some possible friends. He hated church as much as I did, even though I acted like it was the best place in the world to be on a Sunday. I’ve tried connecting my son to mentors, 2 big brothes came in and out of his life. And another mentor promised he would be there but was just full of empty promises further confirming to my son he’s not “liked” and he is not accepted anywhere. I’ve asked the school for help. Social workers, councellors nothing, no resources. When they tried to put us on to other fams with LD it wouldnt work because, no judgement, but they were kids with the behavioural problems. My son is sweet and gentle as a lamb, very polite, not a typical teen. He is what I describe and “old soul”. He is in his last year of highschool, this is beyond late bloomer. This is a situation of NO friends. We did the role play, we chat all the time but it doesn’t seem to translate when he is with other teens. It has broken my heart for years. His bday is coming up and he has had no one want to come to his bday since he was 11. And so far, it looks like its goin to be the same again for this bday. I offered to pay for everyone and drive everyone…still nada. Please help me!!

    • Irene says:

      Since he is finishing high school, would he have any interesting in being a volunteer or mentor to a younger person? Any part-time job opportunities in a nurturing setting?

      Best, Irene

      • Nayo says:

        Thank you for your input Irene but he wants friends. He wants PEERS and he wants friends now, while in High School. He has been applying at jobs where there are other teens employed but he hasn’t heard back from any of those jobs YET.

        • Irene says:


          Of course, there is no quick fix. Make the best of his birthday by doing something he enjoys together.

          In terms of his ongoing problem, can you help him cultivate some interests after or outside of school? Is there a hobby or interest that could put him in contact with other kids?

          Best, Irene

          • Nayo says:

            Hi Irene,

            Thank you for responding and sorry for the delayed response from me. I couldn’t find this post!

            For his bday, we always do something he likes. This year he is firm about wanting friends to be social with and to celebrate his bday with. He is SAD at the thought of doing something again with just me – not that we don’t have a good time, it’s just he wants friends his own age.

            I’m not sure if it’s due to his learning disability but he is not interested in much. He loves his Xbox Live community (but those are virtual and inconsistent relationships), he likes Assassin’s Creed (the historical aspect), he likes electronics (audio visual club,but I’m not sure if there is an AV club at his school)and that’s it. What do you recommend?

            We typically go to the movies and enjoy fine dining. He still wants to go to dinner and movies but with ppl his own age. This is no life for a teen. He deserves to be enjoying the highs and lows of teenaged life and I see it passing him by.

            Thanks again for responding.


  4. Anonymous says:

    I could have written this about my own sons. Now that my oldest is in college, he is fine. He graduated with some very close high school friends. I think he was a late bloomer. He said most kids did not get his sense of humor until he was older. Now my 7th grader is going through the same thing. He is content to see kids at football and that’s it. He is a really great kid and seems happy. Don’t make your son feel bad. He sounds like an introvert who doesn’t need to be with others as much. If your son is happy, then be happy for him.

  5. Liz says:

    Hi Jackie, just wanted to comment as I have middle schoolers and older. This is not so unusual, especially for boys. What can help is to occasionally treat him and a friend (even a “sort of” friend) to a movie or miniature golf type thing. People don’t always reciprocate, but sometimes they eventually do.
    Also, if your son is into the sports it is very beneficial to get involved in some way. Help out occasionally at the concession stand for example. It didn’t help me to make friends, but at least people get to know you better. Just having a parent be seen and known in the community is so very helpful to make sure that your children feel a sense of belonging.

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