Parenting A Needy Child

16 January 2016 Written by 

What do we as parents say to the adult child who has no friends? It is hard enough to watch a child fumble with friendships when they are small children on a playground…it is heart wrenching to watch them do it as adults. I have such a child, Max. He struggles to find a circle of friends to share his life. He is lonely and I get that. I have experienced periods of loneliness myself, and it is crushingly painful. I struggled with it, too. Until I found my own way out of it.

Max has been lonely for years and complains about it. No one likes hearing about it. Al-Anon has taught me to speak from my own experience, strength, and hope. No advice giving. Still, it is hard to stand by while he lives a life with no friends.  What is Max’s problem? His problem is he is needy. So needy in fact people feel they would be swallowed up in a black hole of neediness if they stay around Max for more than a short time.

I am not sure what brought about this neediness, but I do know he is not aware of it or has not learned how to get his deep needs met.

People come into his life and leave just as quickly. He will talk endlessly about himself: his apt, his newest technology, the way no one pays attention to him, how no one wants to be with him and how weird they all are. The list varies, but the need is always present, like a cancer. What can I do for Max? He feels entitled to have others listen to him simply because he is hurting.

Max is a great guy and if he could meet some of his needs in a healthy way I am sure people would be drawn to him. He is funny, smart, and handsome.

One of the problems with his neediness is his need to be right. And in a very dogmatic, argumentative way he makes everyone in the room aware of his views. Instead of pulling people into a riveting debate, as he would like, he drives them away.

To answer my previous question, “What can I do for Max?” 

  1. I can share how stopping my opinionated ways has gained me real friends who now feel safe to be around me.
  2. I can say the serenity prayer and change the things that I can which means spending limited time with my son, Max. This may or may not help him to realize his neediness is not my responsibility, but I will be serene.
  3. Accept that he may go a long time being lonely before he finds an answer that will work for him.

It is difficult to be around needy people. In Al-Anon it is said, “Do what is best for you and often that is what is best for everyone else.” Sadly, in my case, spending less and less time with Max is what is best for me. 

A Reach Out Recovery Exclusive by Madeline Schloop

Read 1958 times Last modified on Thursday, 03 November 2016 17:09
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Madeline Schloop

Madeline is the widow of a man who died of alcoholism and the mother of 5 young adults whom she parents with the tools of Al-Anon. Her children continue to be affected by the disease of alcoholism. Her stories  deal with life's daily trials and what has and hasn't worked.
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