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 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.
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)?
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.