I recently wrote a post about the impact having children has had on my friendships. In this follow-up, I look at my children’s friendships and how complicated I find it. It’s a jungle out there…
One of the aspects of parenting I find most difficult is dealing with my children’s friendships. I say children, in reality this is only an issue for my eldest daughter, Helen, because our second child is still too young to be making friends.
I don’t know if I’m hyper-sensitive, but it all seems so complicated. Who do you invite to birthday parties? Which birthday party invites do you accept? When is the correct time to invite a child round for a play date?
As regards the whole play date thing, I have the added complication of being male. I don’t like generalisations, but there are definitely some mums that only feel comfortable dealing with other mums when organising this kind of thing (In the unlikely circumstances this applies to you, I have overseen many play dates and outings and none of them has ended in accident and emergency).
My wife and I didn’t make things easy for Helen when she started school. We were fortunate to get our first choice of school but we knew she wouldn’t know anyone there. Having been going to the one nursery for three years, the poor little mite had to start all over again and establish herself among a group of children she didn’t know at all.
I can’t help feeling guilty about this, but the pay-off is that she is at a good school and is flourishing. It took a while, but she is settled and making friends. I have had to remind myself a couple of times that school is primarily for education, not socialising. I guess it’s a paranoia resurfacing from my own childhood about being the only child in the playground no one would play with.
The hardest and most horrible thing of all, however, must be steering your child away from those few children you don’t want them to mingle with. I can think of one boy that was at nursery with Helen. On the surface the two were very friendly and they did meet up a couple of times.
Over time I got an inkling that all was not quite as it seemed and one day, towards the end of her time at nursery, I witnessed him playing very roughly with Helen. It made me feel uncomfortable and my wife and I decided to let that friendship quietly drop when Helen started school.
This also makes me feel guilty because the boy is only five. He’s not nasty, I just think discipline at home is a bit on the weak side. He’s bound to grow out of it, but for now, we’re discouraging any contact. This has actually been quite easy as Helen never mentions him, which probably says it all.
So that’s my tale. What are your experiences of dealing with your children’s friends? Do you find it easy? More to the point, if you’re a mum, would you trust a dad to oversee a play date?