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Dad Drops His 15-Year-Old Off At Mall Alone To Help Him Overcome His Social Anxiety, Sparking Debate

Photo: Shutterstock / Tzido Sun
Dad Drops His 15-Year-Old Off At Mall Alone To Help Him Overcome His Social Anxiety, Sparking Debate

An appreciative son came to Reddit to share his story about how his father helped him overcome his social anxiety — an unorthodox method in which his father left him alone at a strip mall when he was 15 years old.

Reddit’s “TrueOffMyChest,” is a subreddit that allows users to share their opinions on personal experiences — it serves as a way for users to speak their minds and get something off their chest; stories, situations, hopes for the future, or some other type of direct situation.

Many commentators understood the reasoning behind the Redditor's experience and shared their similar ones, but others felt the father was doing “the worst possible thing," for his child, possibly causing more trauma than help with overcoming his social anxiety.

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The father told his son to “dress up professionally” and took him to a strip mall.

Now dressed, his father told him to “go to as many stores as possible, ask to speak to someone in charge, introduce yourself, and ask them for a job. I’ll pick you up in an hour. Here’s some money for a meal or a taxi if need be.”

He went from store to store “shaking in his boots” with nothing but the clothes on his back and asked managers from different stores for a job. When his father returned, he told him that it went okay, “I don’t know if they’ll hire me but I tried.”

His father revealed that he didn’t expect him to get a job but wanted him to get used to talking to people and asking for what he wanted.

His father did this multiple times.

His father would later do something similar when he met with clients or vendors and waited in the car while his son went to ask for whatever was needed.

The now 24-year-old claimed that this helped him “tremendously in overcoming any social anxiety.”

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There were mixed reactions to the Redditor’s post.

Some Redditors shared that this method may not have worked for them as their social anxiety doesn’t apply in professional or clinical settings. Rather social settings “where there is no ‘task’ to be completed” is an entirely different situation.

Another Redditor by the name of “6ft9man” shared how he did something similar and pushed himself to have small talk with cashiers and waiters/waitresses.

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Some Redditors shared their similar — albeit more extreme — experiences.

One commenter shared their experience when their dad kicked them out of the house to buy lunch on their own and walk back. While it did help them gain confidence, the commenter “felt like a disappointment” because they were such a socially anxious being.

Others weren’t too thrilled about his father’s tactics.

A Redditor named “Punchee” suggested that while the intent was good-natured, it wasn’t the best way to handle a child with social anxiety. They then offered alternate solutions that would better help an individual with social anxiety.

Another Redditor went on to write how this father’s tactics “would have only made things worse.”

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A few Redditors felt the original poster was lying.

A commenter didn’t believe this story and proceeded to explain what a "real person with social anxiety" would do.

“[They] would have hid in the bushes and then lied once picked up.”

Some agreed, writing that there was a difference between feelings of anxiousness and an actual anxiety disorder.

And others came to the young man’s defense. User “DoctorNo6051” argued that there was no reason to view this post as fake. 

“You can experience anxiousness when in a social setting and not have real social anxiety.”

Thankfully the person who originally posted turned out fine. Ultimately, Reddit user “althimself” posted to speak on his positive experience, insisting his father's methods helped him learn to overcome his social anxiety.

While this post didn’t necessarily sit well with everyone on the Reddit forums, hopefully, the thread provided people with tips on how to (and how not to) get over their social anxiety.

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Ashley Darkwa-Anto is an editorial intern at YourTango who covers News & Entertainment.

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