I’ve begun to notice a reoccurring theme among parenting websites and real life discussions. It might involve an off-hand remark that a friendship was lost because two children clashed. A parent might describe retreating from a friendship because they found another child too rough. What I’m curious to know is – are children beginning to dictate our friendships?
My eldest child is 3. We don’t really have a large social circle of friends but we are blessed with an abundance of cousins – family that have had to endure the various stages of smacking and pushing and do it with a laugh or a reassuring “don’t worry, they’ll grow out of it”. And usually they do.
I’m lucky I have family. If I’m honest I somewhat isolated my son (and in turn, myself) from certain people and situations. Some were unable to cope with his “over-exuberant” behaviour and occasionally the stress of hovering over my child – worried that he would get rough or upset someone – was no longer worth it. I felt judged on my parenting skills on a number of occasions.
I became defensive and thought that I was protecting my child. Isolation syndrome is nothing new and something that families dealing with disability or an Autism diagnosis would already know about, and on a much larger scale. But we all have to live, work and breathe alongside people from all walks of life. Exposing our children to this from a young age and teaching them how to deal with it makes a whole world of sense to me.
Do we want to teach our kids to be tolerant of other children’s behaviour (I’m not talking unsafe behaviour here) or do we want to teach them that we exclude people who might be a bit behind socially? Or even worse, might have an undiagnosed behavioural disorder? From where I’m sitting that could quite quickly turn into bullying.
The test of a good friendship means supporting each other while our children go through difficult developmental stages. It doesn’t mean turning your back on someone because you don’t like their child. Catch up without them instead.
Have you ever lost a friendship over children?