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Aug 12

Friendship – Finding, Forming, Keeping, and Wishing

Welcome to the August 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Friends

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about friends.

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I struggle mightily with friendships. This isn’t a secret by now, since I have talked on the blog about how difficult social media can be for me. I’ve also mentioned more than once that I have a hard time keeping in touch with friends who are near and dear to me. This has always been the case. The trouble is that I don’t know if I ever fully learned that it’s ok to share and be social even when I don’t think I have anything important to share. Another problem is that I’m very much an introvert. People who have worked with me may not think so, but people who’ve gotten to really know me, know that social engagement isn’t something I want (or need) to do quite as often as it can seem while I am engaged. Possibly even a bigger problem is that I don’t really live in close proximity to any near and dear friends. My nearest friends are over an hour away and (honestly) many of them are older than I.

In childhood I was often referred to as an “old soul”. I loved to hang out around the adults, or sit quietly reading a book or doing some other activity or crafty thing. As a child, I always thought I belonged in another time, one where I “fit better”. I never really feel that I know how to engage with other people, most notably in new situations or around new people. I don’t know how to really strike up conversations that go very far. I usually stick to what I know. I could probably get all psychoanalytical about it, but honestly, I’m not in the mood. Besides, this post is about far more than my insecurities when it comes to finding, forming, keeping, and even wishing about friendships.

Regardless of these difficulties I have, I am often told I’m a great friend to have. I truly adore and genuinely love my closest friendships with others. Nonetheless, I now have a growing child. One who will inevitably want to form friendships with people. I am not sure I know how to facilitate the steps very well. I can’t really lean on Hun to help out much because, guess what, he’s also a bit of an introvert. He has close friends he talks to whenever, but it isn’t a frequent thing. So, I wish I knew how to teach Baby Boy ways to develop healthy friendships. Wait, that’s not entirely accurate. I have healthy friendships, so does Hun. I guess I should say, I wish I had friendships (especially mom friends) so I could rely and practice with them, thereby helping Baby Boy learn.

Maybe he’ll learn on his own, though I’m not so sure because at this stage in the game, he really just wants what others have and sometimes tries to take it. I know this is pretty normal, I mean he is only 15 months after all. Nonetheless, I wonder if he’ll be one of the kids who will ask to go to a friends’ house to play or if he’ll always be the one at home with his introverted Momma? Maybe that’s not something I should worry myself with these days, but alas the topic has come up and so I’m thinking more directly about it. So, for Baby Boy’s sake, I wish I had face-to-face friends who lived closer, or we closer to them, that would help both Hun and I to show Baby Boy about friendship. As it stands, the intermittent texting, emailing, or phone calls don’t show very much and aren’t easy to understand for a toddler, since those interactions are mainly intangible and very conceptual – far beyond his grasp of understanding at this age.

Since finding friendships is also difficult for me, I wonder how to teach Baby Boy. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, right now it’s quite alright for him to just walk up to other kids and babies to play or interact. But in a year or so it would probably be helpful to begin learning more socially acceptable ways of finding potential friends. I mean, I’m the kind of person who doesn’t generally speak unless spoken to and then more often than not I’m pleasant, but curt. Sometimes I even mumble a response. Often, I might only smile or nod. Again, my own social awkwardness and anxieties prevail in finding potential friends. I’d much rather just be left alone, unless (or until) I want something (information, product, etc.). At the same time, Baby Boy and I aren’t involved in any activities outside the house right now. No mommy and me groups, no mommy groups, no lessons, no library readings, nothing like that. As a family we socialize on the weekends (if we’re in the mood or a situation calls for it), but we’re also quite content just hanging out at home, barely leaving to run regular errands, or to get involved in some outdoor activity together as a family.

hello, name tag

It’s interesting because on occasion I think it might be a good idea for Baby Boy and I to get involved in some of the aforementioned social activities. Then when I really start thinking about it, I’d rather not. I’m not big on going somewhere and having to ‘compete’ or ‘show off’ or do what I call ‘play the game’, which is really just about being lively and dare I say “fake” with surface interactions. Nope, I’m a deeper person than that. See, because if you want to talk about something, really talk about it, then I’m all ears and conversation. I love helping others, giving information, sharing others’ knowledge, or otherwise being actually, really engaged with people. This is when I come alive and the way in which I’m often (mis)perceived as being much more extroverted and outgoing than I am. Besides, since this is what I think life is really about, these are the kinds of friendships I want to teach Baby Boy to have. These are the ones I think are important and lasting and meaningful. But weeding through to that can be so mentally and emotionally exhausting. Not to mention many of those other “fake” or surface topics are about things we don’t do: watch tv, follow celebrities, listen to (much) of today’s terrible music, buy an abundance of toys, or otherwise chase after a life we don’t want to live or be part of.

All of these factors make finding, forming, and keeping friendships difficult for me, let alone teach Baby Boy how to do so. Maybe I’ll just quietly continue to mull over this topic as time goes on, hoping beyond hope that somehow I’ll figure it out. And if nothing else, I can muddle through, picking things up along the way from Baby Boy himself. Because, after all, he’s a child and children are the best at finding, forming, and keeping friendships. It’s after the world starts getting a say-so in how/what to live that things start getting awkward.

<p-style= “text align: center;”>What do you think? Do you easily find and form friendships with others? Or are you more on the introverted side of things? How do you help foster finding, forming, and keeping healthy friendships with your child(ren)?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon August 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • Sibling Revelry — At Natural Parents Network, Amy W. shares her joy in witnessing the growth of the friendship between her two young children.
  • Making New Mama Friends — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama muses on how she was able to connect with like-minded mamas and form deep friendships both in ‘real life’ and online. Learn how these life-long friendships, both between Jennifer and other mothers but also between Jennifer’s daughter and the other children, formed and flourished.
  • Family, Friends and Family Friends — Vidya Sury at Vidya Sury, Going A-Musing, Collecting Smiles is reflecting on family friendships, past and present.
  • Arranging friendships in a modern world — From a free-range childhood to current parenthood, how can an introvert like Lauren at Hobo Mama navigate the newly complicated scheduling of playdates and mom friends?
  • Mommy Blogs: Where Moms Make Friends — Mothers make friends with other mothers in new ways. The options from earlier decades remain, but new avenues have sprung up with mommy bloggers. Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at Parental Intelligence shares her thoughts.
  • Friendship and Sacrifice: Guardians of the Galaxy — Shay at 4HisGlory learned that friendship lessons can be found in unlikely places, like blockbuster summer movies.
  • Friendship – Finding, Forming, Keeping, and WishingLife Breath Present‘s thoughts on finding, forming, keeping, and wishing for friendships as an introvert.
  • Consciously Creating My Community: Monthly Dinners — How have you intentionally created community? Dionna at Code Name: Mama‘s goal for the year is to cultivate community. One way she’s done that is to help organize two different monthly dinners with friends.
  • Adults need imaginary friends, too — Tat at Mum in Search shares why it’s a good idea for adults to have imaginary friends. You get to meet Tat’s friend and download a playbook to create your own.
  • Friends Near, Friends Far — Kellie at Our Mindful Life helps her kids keep in touch with friends 600 miles apart.
  • Which comes first, social skills or social life? — Jorje of Momma Jorje frets about whether her daughter can learn social skills without experience, but how to get good experience without social skills.
  • Snail Mail Revival — Skype isn’t the only way to stay in touch with long distance friends, That Mama Gretchen and her family are breaking out the envelopes and stamps these days!
  • Montessori-Inspired Friendship Activities — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares a roundup of Montessori-inspired friendship activities for home or classroom.
  • How I used the internet to make local friends — After years of striking out at the park, Crunchy Con Mom finally found some great local friends . . . online!
  • My How Friends Change — Erica at ChildOrganics knows entirely too much about how to comfort a friend after a loss.

10 comments

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  1. Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

    I could have written much of this post :) I’ve had to force myself to get involved in homeschooling co-ops, etc. as Kieran has grown; otherwise, we could just sit at home sustaining each other for weeks on end. He is also an introvert, but he does enjoy playing games with peers that I’m just not in love with playing. To make it tolerable for me, I tend to take on teaching or organizing roles. That way I’m forced to interact, but I’m doing it in a way that I enjoy.

    1. Life Breath Present

      Dionna, that’s a great idea – taking on a role that works for you which also supports being involved with others and allowing Kieran to be with peers playing games that are enjoyable to them! I’ll definitely have to keep that in mind as Baby Boy ages! :)

  2. Lauren @ Hobo Mama

    Ugh, yes, I get so tired of the endless small talk when acquaintanceships never grow any deeper! I’m quite introverted and get stressed if I have to do more than one social thing a week — that “social” thing could even be going to the dentist, ha ha. But my older kid at least needs more than that, and I’m struggling with how to find a good balance. I also am hoping my child will be my guide in making and cementing friendships in ways that work for all of us as a family.

    1. Life Breath Present

      Yes, even something as simple as a healthcare appointment can become too much! :) I’m glad you have a “guide”, I know I often think Baby Boy will end up being more of a guide to me, than me him when it comes to friendships! :)

  3. Tat

    As introverts we tend to have less, but deeper friendships, and yes, getting past that initial shallow phase is challenging. I can totally relate to that and i had the same worries about my children (two of them are introverts). I needn’t have worried, they’re at school now and they are doing just fine. My son can make friends with anyone, which came as a big surprise to me, because he is an introvert without a doubt and always has been. My daughter takes a bit longer to warm up to people, but she gets there in the end, too.

    1. Life Breath Present

      Tat, this is certainly great to hear, and very reassuring as I wonder if Baby Boy will take after his parents or not and how being an introvert will affect his developing friendships in the future! :)

  4. Shay

    I hate small talk. I’ve been blessed to meet many people who are willing to talk to me. I’d say 95-99% of my relationships are with people that either talked to me first or that I met through other people or activities. Then I learned to initiate or participate in group events that were interesting to me: home Bible studies, sports, etc… And then I have birth to am extrovert little boy who loves people. And then I married an extrovert husband who knows everyone. Now, I have a business for which I need to network and market. Gradually, Good expanded my comfort zone. And some days I still do nothing because too much activity is overwhelming. Don’t really know where I was going with this but your friendships still count and he’ll learn that friendship can look different and still be okay.

    1. Life Breath Present

      Shay, your comment made perfect sense to me. It sounds like you’ve gotten challenged, yet you find the balance you need to soothe your soul and ‘decompress’ as we call it in our house. Baby Boy certainly seems quite extroverted at times, yet others very introverted as he loves to play alone. He’s still growing and developing though, so I’m not labeling him in any way.

      You’re right though too, friendships can look different and still be a-ok! Thanks for the reminder :)

  5. Adrian

    I’m also extremely introverted. As a matter of fact my kids have dentist appointments tomorrow and I DREAD going! I’m absolutely content staying at home and never having to leave. With that being said, I do have four children at home (one is grown) who are all like their daddy. Extroverts! Just be reassured that they all have wonderful friends whom I’ve come to care for and so will your son and you! Thanks for sharing this awesome post at the Teach Me Tuesday Linky Party:)

    1. Life Breath Present

      Here’s to hoping the dentist appointment goes well, for you! Being an introvert and wanting to be at home sure can put quite a damper on activities when dealing with the rest of the world. It’s a good thing, for me, that as a family we’d prefer to just do things on our own anyway. This cuts down on me having to be “up” too often, yet being able to be filled for when I want or need to be “up” :)

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