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Welcome to the August 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Friends
I struggle mightily with friendships.
This isn’t a secret by now, since I have talked about how difficult social media can be for me. I’ve mentioned my difficulty in keeping up with friends who are dear to me, yet don’t live close. This has always been the case. The trouble is, I’m not sure I learned balanced social skills. My family stuck together; parents working, family events, and activities just as us.
Another problem is I’m very much an introvert. There are people who have worked with me in the past, who don’t think I’m an introvert. Yet, people who know me well, understand that social engagement isn’t something I want (or need) often. I happen to be one of those people who seem gregarious once engaged, yet, I also need to be alone. I need to refill my tank in solitude and quiet activity.
Possibly a bigger problem is we don’t 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.
I often was called an “old soul” as a child. I loved hanging around the adults, or sitting quietly and reading a book or another activity or craft. As a child, I always thought I belonged in another time, one where I “fit better”. I never really feel I know how to engage with others, most notably in new situations or around new people. Striking conversation that goes beyond small talk or starts too deep, is difficult for me. 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.
Often, I’ve heard how great of a friend I can be, despite my difficulties. I truly adore and genuinely love my closest friendships.
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 an introvert. He has close friends he talks to on occasion, but it isn’t very frequent. Also, his friends aren’t nearby.
So, I wish I knew how to teach Monkey Boy ways to develop healthy friendships. Wait, that’s not entirely accurate. I have healthy friendships, so does Hun. I wish I had friends who were closer, and which demonstrate how to develop and maintain friendships.
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.
I wonder if he’ll be a kid who asks to go to 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. I really don’t know.
For Monkey Boy’s sake, I wish I had face-to-face friends who were closer. As it stands, the intermittent texting, emailing, or phone calls aren’t easy to understand for a toddler, since those interactions are mainly intangible and very conceptual – far beyond his grasp of understanding right now.
Since finding friendships is also difficult for me, I wonder how to teach Monkey Boy.
Right now it’s quite alright for him to just walk up to other kids to play or interact. But in a year or so things might be different. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t usually start a conversation and sometimes 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 enjoy alone time, seeking information or connection when I’m ready.
Monkey Boy and I don’t yet involve ourselves in activities out of the house. No mommy and me groups, no mommy groups, no lessons, no library readings, nothing like that. As a family we socialize on the weekends sometimes, usually with family. We’re quite content just hanging out at home, barely leaving to run regular errands. And other times, we do outdoor activities as a family, but mostly on our own.
On occasion I think it’d be a good idea for Monkey Boy and I to get involved in social activities. Then when I really start thinking about it, I’d rather not. I’m not big on feeling the need to ‘compete’ or ‘show off’ or ‘play the game’. Truthfully, I’m really not at all very good with small talk. 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. It’s also the way I’m (mis)perceived as more extroverted than I am.
This is what I think life is really about and the kinds of friendships I want to model. 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 most small talk is about things we don’t do: watch tv, follow celebrities, listen to (much) of today’s terrible music, buy an abundance of toys, or even go to typical places.
All of these factors make finding, forming, and keeping friendships difficult for me. This, in turn means I struggle in how to teach Monkey Boy to do so. Maybe I’ll just quietly mull over this topic, 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 Monkey 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)?
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 Wishing — Life 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.