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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 16 year old daughter is extremely quiet, soft spoken and shy. She never goes out with her friends to do anything. She hardly says anything when she comes home from school. She just does her homework with earphones in. When she's done with homework, all she does is read books for pleasure. She reads books while she's eating dinner and she doesn't really like to talk to me or her father. She usually stays up late at night reading, and she has pulled all nighters to finish a suspenseful book. I've gotten up to use the bathroom at 3 in the morning and caught her reading. She takes books with her to school and she reads while she walks in between her classes. She must have read at least 300 books last year, and there's no more shelf space for them so they're in stacks on her bedroom floor. Last summer, I don't even think she left the house except to go to the bookstore and buy ridiculous amounts of books. She spent the whole summer laying in the couch in her bra and panties reading. We went on vacation a few months ago and she stuffed her bag with huge 600 page novels. All she did was sit on the beach reading. I think she finished 5 books on a two week vacation. I am not sure what's wrong with my daughter. She has never had a boyfriend. She only has friends, but their idea of socializing at school is sitting together reading. Her friends come over sometimes, but all they do is talk about books while eating cakes and drinking tea like a bunch of old ladies. I don't know what to do. My daughter doesn't seem normal.
 

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There's nothing wrong with her - she's a teen who reads a lot, and has made good friends who don't do crazy things.

She needs more shelving.

If you want to encourage your daughter and her friends to go out, get the local list of author events at bookstores, and volunteer to drive.
 

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I agree, she sounds fine. She's passionately pursuing an interest and she has a social group to share that with. Sounds kind of awesome to me, actually.
 

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Yep, sounds healthy to me, too. I took 600-page novels everywhere with me at that age. Now I just wish I still had time to read like that.

You could suggest she use the library if you're concerned about the expense and storage of so many books.
 

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I disagree. She needs a little more balance. At 16, laying around all summer (even if it is reading) isn't healthy. Help her find some sort of exercise -- hiking, dancing, something. Moving our bodies in ways that feel food to us is REALLY healthy. Require she interact with the world. For my avid reader, the summer reading program at the library was a GREAT way to contribute to the community. (Honestly though, she went for slow shifts where she sat at a table to hand out prizes but mostly sat there and read. )


It's OK to put her on a book budget, require her to use the library, take her to used booksstores, and have her sell or give away some of her old books.


On the normal thing -- I think being "being normal" is overrated. At her age, it usually involves activities that most of us don't want our teens involved in. At lot of her peers are experimenting with alcohol and sex.


But she needs to move or she isn't going to be healthy.
 

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I think that if reading is consistently taking the place of other things that are necessary in a healthy balanced life (like relationships with parents, regular physical activity, creative pursuits, sleep, basic social interactions) there is a problem that needs to be addressed. It's not that she's reading too much in terms of hours or pages. It's that from the sound of it she may be using books as a barrier between herself and others. Now I'd be careful not to impose a narrow definition of a "normal teen social life" on someone who is introverted, in part because she may not need to spend hours a day hanging out with peers in order to have be happy and socially fulfilled and in part because what is considered 'normal' teen behaviour is often decidedly unhealthy and immature. But basic things like being available to participate in mealtime conversations with family, and making eye contact and smiling at classmates in the hallways at school, if her reading is getting in the way of that stuff then it's serving an avoidant role and that should be addressed.

I would start with drawing some boundaries at home around the dinner table and talking with her regularly about social issues, balancing her reading with what she's doing in the rest of her life, exploring whether depression or social anxiety are feeding her retreat into reading and so on.

Miranda
 

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Her friends come over sometimes, but all they do is talk about books while eating cakes and drinking tea like a bunch of old ladies. I don't know what to do. My daughter doesn't seem normal.
I should say that I think this is wonderful and healthy and if it were me I would encourage it plenty since it sounds like she could use a bit more in the way of a social life. I would really try to avoid judging it as odd, because she may stop if she senses her parents disapprove or look down on her social life in some way.

I mean, really ... "normal" teen behaviour with parties and boyfriends also often involves drugs, alcohol and sex. I have tea-and-cakes kids and I'm positively thrilled. You should be too, in my opinion.

Miranda
 

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I would start with drawing some boundaries at home around the dinner table and talking with her regularly about social issues, balancing her reading with what she's doing in the rest of her life, exploring whether depression or social anxiety are feeding her retreat into reading and so on.

I completely agree with this. My avid reader was NOT allowed to bring books to the dinner table, and she did have to talk to us. Books are great, I love to read and I love for my kids to read. But they can also be an unhealthy escape from the real, 3 dimensional world. Real life is so much more complicated because we have to participate in it, and people expect things from us.


Also, what responsibilities does she have around the house? A 16 year old who is allowed to lay around all the time and given unlimited funds for their interest isn't NOT preparing for adulthood.
 
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Some physical activity is important too, so is getting enough sleep. But average type of teen socializing is so unnecessary, all that reading and hanging out with girls like herself will be so much better, smarter, more mature, more well adjusted. If she likes fantasy books she might love hikes too or horseback riding, they remind me of the travelling they do in those books. Make some opportunities to get out and do something fun and active regularly. I'd be firm about her getting to sleep at a decent hour, but that's an issue with every teen whether they're reading, out past curfew, watching tv, or playing computer.
 

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I agree with what others have said. I have an avid reader. She is only 11, almost 12, but spends TONS of time readng. It's all about balance, though. While she loves to read and is currently reading at least 4 books.. she also has other activities she likes like playing soccer on her soccer team, horseback riding, etc. These are things I have encouraged. I require them to be involved in an activity- either a sport or a club of some sort. She is also introverted so some Saturday afternoons, after she has had her soccer game, she is perfectly content to sit and read the afternoon away. I was the same way. I was mildly shy, introverted and socially anxious, but I read because I loved to read not to avoid things.

If you feel like she is avoiding conversation with you, why not talk to her about the books she is reading? Do you like to read, too? If you guys both read the same book, you can each bring different perspectives to the conversation. My daughter is forever telling me about books she's reading and I am most of the time interested in her choice of reading material. What she reads also tells me a little about her as a person. However, I agree with moominmamma about making sure she's not using books to avoid people and isn't depressed.

We eat dinner as a family. There is no bringing media to the table (unless my husband is on call.. then maybe but he is more likely to leave the table to work) and no bringing homework or books to the table. I have been known to gently suggest she go outside to play if I feel like she is spending too much time with her nose in a book. She has siblings to play with, a very active dog she helps with and I am not a "sit still" person so I usually will do something, too, that encourages them to get out. Rather than criticize, which would shut her down, I suggest other activities or do something with her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Getting her to do anything but read and go shopping for books is like pulling teeth. When I ask her something she always asks me to wait until she's done with the paragraph or the chapter. I literally have to pry books out of her hands. She told me she's not depressed or trying to escape from reality, she just gets so hooked on books that reading is all she wants to do because she wants to know what happens. I asked her to stop reading and talk to me and her dad during dinner, and I thought she had put her book away, but I later found out she had hidden it in her lap under the table and was trying to read anyway. I've asked her if she'd be interested in any sports or anything, she said she hates sweat because it's nasty and disgusting and she doesn't want to have any other activities. She wants to be able to read when she's done with her homework and she just wants to read all summer and do nothing else. I don't know what to do. Should I leave her alone?
 

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I would certainly have more expectations for her than that. She's less than two years from being a legal adult. She needs to be prepared to lead a healthy self-sufficient life. If she's not working, not building a resumé, not developing competency in marketable skills, not cooking and cleaning around the house, not keeping herself fit and healthy, not willing to converse with the people she lives with, then she's going to be wholly unprepared for adulthood. I would be extremely concerned about the apparent lack of those things in her life.

I have a 16-year-old girl who is introverted and has some social anxiety. I sometimes worry that she spends too much time studying, reading and watching Netflix in her room. But ... she cooks for herself 3-4 days a week, does some of the grocery shopping, participates in a sport and an arts activity on a weekly basis, has worked 20-40 hours a week during the summers for the past two years, has certificates in babysitting, first aid and food safety, volunteers as a peer tutor and has sat on the board of a local charitable society for 2 years. Some weeks it seems like she mostly hangs out in her room, but I can see that overall she's well on her way to becoming a competent adult.

If your girl is not, I think it's time to begin to challenge her to grow some wings and take on some responsibility for herself. I would look at creating some sort of life-changing opportunities for her: travelling to stay with extended family or on a truly adventurous self-powered family vacation, an exchange student experience, an Outward Bound type camp or retreat, something to shake her up and encourage her to look at how she is going to fit into the wider world.

(Other quick thoughts: she must be spending thousands of dollars on books; who is funding her habit and why is she not using the library? and if she doesn't like the feel of sweat, get her swimming! Is she really getting no exercise?!)

Miranda
 

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Sounds like she needs to start reading short stories :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

All kidding aside, in my earlier comment I was mostly responding to your sense that she's "not normal" because she loves reading, doesn't like boys, etc. I think she sounds completely normal.

But in light of your second post I do agree that she at least needs to respect some boundaries and get the basics under control.
 

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Getting her to do anything but read and go shopping for books is like pulling teeth.

it's time to pull some teeth. I completely agree with Miranda that she is nearly an adult and that you have not prepared for her adulthood.


I asked her to stop reading and talk to me and her dad during dinner, and I thought she had put her book away, but I later found out she had hidden it in her lap under the table and was trying to read anyway.
Stop asking her things. Start telling her thing. Books aren't allowed at the table. Check if she has one, then talk to her. If you guys are actually talking to her, there's no way for her to pull that, and you really really need to talk to her and connect with her. (you are laying the foundation for your adult relationship with her. If you don't start talking with her, you won't have one).


Talk to her about things she is interested in, so, books and authors. Ask her to recommend a book to you, and then read it and talk to her about it as you read it.


Another idea is to read a book together that has (or will soon be) turned into a movie, and then watch the movie together. But I strongly advice connecting to her around her interests.


I've asked her if she'd be interested in any sports or anything, she said she hates sweat because it's nasty and disgusting and she doesn't want to have any other activities.
Yoga and swimming are examples of exercises that don't cause people to sweat. Again, don't ask. Tell. She needs to get off her butt or she is going to be a very unhealthy adult. Doing things as a whole family is another option -- hiking and biking work well.




She wants to be able to read when she's done with her homework and she just wants to read all summer and do nothing else. I don't know what to do. Should I leave her alone?
No, I don't think you should leave her alone. I think you should parent her while you still have the chance. You have VERY little time left.


I like Miranda's ideas and suggestion (especially the trip idea). Here is what I would have her doing this summer:


1. Volunteer work. This would be required. I suggest something book related, like the library. And how much she complained and whine wouldn't change it.


2. Laundry. You still haven't listed a single household tasks that she does. I'd start with her doing her own laundry, including sheets and towels.


3. Cooking. Her own simple things plus one meal a week for the whole family.


4. EXERCISE of some sort.


5. A monthly allowance that goes into an account, and that she has to balance. No more of this taking her shopping nonsense -- she learns to budget. (in addition to her book money, this would also be her money for toiletries, make up, etc).


6. How to get around town without you. This looks very different for kids in different size cities, on different budgets, etc. But its time to learn to drive, or how to use public transportation, or bike commute, or something.


I know it sounds like a lot (and it will to her too) but it really isn't that much. She can put laundry in, and then read while the machine does the work. My avid reader likes cookbooks on different cuisines, and gets them from the library or used bookstore. One volunteer shift is just a few hours (and one of my kids figured out a way to volunteer and read and the same time). She can do everything on this list and still have tons of time to read.
 

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You know, a couple of months ago you posted a really odd thread about your 16-year-old son wanting a girlfriend so badly he was whining and crying incessantly, but not actually attracted to anyone. You never mentioned his sister, despite going on and on about his inability to find ways to meet girls his age, no book clubs, he likes reading...

Now you're posting odd stuff about a teen girl exactly the same age, with no mention of a twin brother with similar interests and challenging social issues. I smell a rat. I'm not sure what your motivation is, but none of this really rings true for me. It didn't in the first thread, and it doesn't here.

Miranda
 

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Your kid does not read too much!

I don't think so! Reading is wonderful -- and too few children do it these days. If she is shy, she probably feels more comfortable with books and the stories they allow her to live. Perhaps she is interested in being a writer in her own right? I love the idea of teenage book and tea parties!

I do think you ought to be glad she'd got her nose in a book instead of out getting into trouble! Try to understand that her books are important to her, instead of thinking she's weird.

Of course, it is VERY important to verify that she's not become introverted, shy, or submerged because of a secret trauma that happened? Just talk to her. You're her mama! Just make sure she's okay and then make her FEEL okay for being a shy bookworm.
 

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You can both be happy

I am a bookworm and my kids are bookworms. But I agree that kids can read too much!

Lounging around in undies all summer is not acceptable to me. I require my kids to do some basic things (like getting dressed and helping around the house) before they have free time. Free time IS free, so if they want to read they can. But they don't get it until they do their morning duties.

I just wrote a whole blog post about this. I won't go into all the details over here. :) Check out what I had to say about my friend's 11 year old niece over on my blog, Everead. The forum won't let me post a link, but you can search "everead my kid reads too much," if you want all my tips. :wink:
 

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You know, a couple of months ago you posted a really odd thread about your 16-year-old son wanting a girlfriend so badly he was whining and crying incessantly, but not actually attracted to anyone. You never mentioned his sister, despite going on and on about his inability to find ways to meet girls his age, no book clubs, he likes reading...

Now you're posting odd stuff about a teen girl exactly the same age, with no mention of a twin brother with similar interests and challenging social issues. I smell a rat. I'm not sure what your motivation is, but none of this really rings true for me. It didn't in the first thread, and it doesn't here.

Miranda
Yes, I was wondering how she gets on with her brother in frantic search of a girlfriend (maybe her indifference to boyfriends is a reaction to him). I also wondered why you didnt mention any of her siblings or her famous brother in particular.

I also thought it noteworthy that you mentioned she was in her bra and panties all summer reading books. How is what she is wearing relevant? If its a problem for you, then I wonder if you might be overly critical of her, which is why she doesnt want to talk to you.
Im all for balance too, but didnt you notice many years ago, since being her mother, that she was not very interested in sports or in being active in general? What did you do about it then?

She might like hiking. Perhaps she could go on a hiking/book tour with a bunch of friend, and they can sip tea over a camp fire and discuss their books...

How about reading summer camps?

Im pretending your post is real, but I dont think it rings true either.

ps. why tea and not coffee? Who doesnt like coffee when discussing books?
 

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If my parents had asked teenage me if I was depressed, I'm sure I would've said "no". I was probably about 17 when I realized I was depressed, and even after that I didn't tell my parents. And when I finally admitted I started anti-depressants at 18 after years of struggling with depression, my parents were shocked and couldn't understand why.
I've heard from a lot of people who talk about how, growing up, they kept a happy face on but were miserable inside and just didn't know how to communicate it. I don't know for sure if that's what's happening with your daughter, I haven't met her, but that is very concerning to me. I agree that "normal" isn't important, but healthy IS and she can't be healthy if she never exercises and doesn't get enough sleep.

Honestly, I'm not sure what to do with teenagers who have emotional issues. They usually refuse to participate in therapy (from what I've seen of myself and other teens and talking to adults who were troubled teens), they'll resent attempts to help.

I would be concerned about any activity overtaking a child's life to this degree. She's not getting adequate sleep, she isn't getting enough exercise. She's not developing her social skills, or any other skills. She's breaking rules (you told her to stop reading at the table, she just kept it in her lap- if you have bedtime rules, which you should, she's breaking them).

I guess it's good that she's reading real books instead of being attached to her smart phone like most teens. But I don't see a ton of difference.
 
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