I have tried and tried and tried to make sure my kids know how to navigate healthy relationships in spite of their not having a good role model in me.
I don’t have any friends.
My kids don’t have many friends, and even fewer IRL.
I’m so proud of how kind and helpful and compassionate my children are.
I dream and hope and pray that my children find others who are also kind and compassionate and emotionally healthy. I don’t want them to live their lives alone.
Over the years, I have confronted parents whose children bullied mine. There were a few very scary and dangerous situations that went largely unresolved because of our society’s mantras and the parents’ and groups’ mentality of “boys will be boys” or “they’re just kids.”
For a long time I did try to give those kids the benefit of the doubt and also coach my kids how to handle situations on their own. I don’t like stepping in unless I really have to, and it never helps; it only makes things worse and burns bridges.
It’s also not my job to correct a child who is sexist, racist, ableist, hateful, or just mean. I realize they’re just spouting what they hear from parents and teachers and church leaders. Perhaps a child will grow and learn to question his family’s values and evolve into a better person, perhaps not.
I focus on protecting my child rather than educating yours.
So, we’ve had longs seasons of few or no friends and we look forward to starting over when we move, but we’re settled now and ready to put down roots.
We were excited to meet new people and make new friends when we moved to Ohio about five years ago.
The first neighborhood boy who met us when we had a lemonade stand a few weeks after we settled in seemed great at first.
No one else on our street would play with him and they ignored our kids when he was with them. I assumed the issue was the other kids. A few boys were very mean to mine and we learned to avoid them and whew, that memory is alive and well no matter how those boys have grown up and maybe regret or matured and try to make amends.
The boy seemed always polite to me, mature, made eye contact, and told jokes. My kids like him and we all seemed to get along fine.
He was never allowed in our house or backyard. I respected his parents’ rules, but I thought it was a little weird. They didn’t want to have a relationship with me and we only waved or said hi in passing. My kids said they seemed very strict and they didn’t go inside his house either, but would be invited to his backyard inground pool in summer.
I found out the boy was expelled from our district school for fighting. He attends a private conservative Christian school. He mentioned he was bullied and it led to the fight. I don’t really know details. Perhaps it’s as he says. His family attends a conservative Christian church.
He and my kids all wore themed costumes for Halloween for four years. Last year, my kids said he wasn’t trick or treating with them and they hedged when I asked why. They said he had bad grades and was going with his sister so we waved when we saw him across the street.
He stopped coming by and my kids didn’t go to his house and stopped talking about him. I thought I’ll never have the entire story and it was very sad.
COVID happened and it was hard for everyone. My son especially suffered when all the neighborhood boys still played together and even came to our door constantly to ask for my son, but we isolated and stayed inside. It was a scary time and I had to complain to some parents that we didn’t want their kids to keep coming to our door. It wasn’t my job to tell those kids why.
After lockdown, my kids admitted that the boy said some very hateful things and they made a decision to stop socializing with him.
He told my kids they were going to hell for being gay and trans – only cishet Christian people won’t go to hell. He said all Muslims should be exported or killed and that they were going to hell for terrorism; they’re all terrorists. I was horrified by this! It sounded like some old white man watching Fox News, not some 14 year old Puerto Rican boy. My kids didn’t want me to know until a lot of time had passed because they didn’t want me to confront him or his parents. I’m not even sure how I would confront people who believe these things and it surely wouldn’t matter whatever I could say.
I’m so proud that my kids chose not to continue that relationship. They don’t want to compromise their values or put themselves in awkward positions just to play cards or swim in his pool. I can’t say that I would have been that mature or self-preserving at their age.
My kids chose to protect each other.
At least there is some closure.
He has the audacity to wave at us when he’s riding his bike and we’re on our evening walks. I wonder what the story is that he tells himself. What do his parents know or choose not to realize? Do they even wonder why they’re no longer friends?
My children are 12, 15, 16, and 21. I’m so happy to see my kids making friends through homeschool activities, from their extracurricular events, camp, volunteering, and work. They’ve met some lovely people IRL that they were introduced to online.
I was so worried my children wouldn’t know how to navigate friendships because I don’t model that, but they’re capable of handling themselves so well in social environments!
It’s always been hard for me to make friends and maintain those friendships. I’m in awe that I haven’t ruined my children with my inability to be social. They’re blossoming and growing and being healthy in spite of me!
You might also like:
- When Mean Girls Grow Up
- Is Your Child a Bully?
- Diligent Parenting
- Helping Kids Make Friends
- What If I Don’t Have Friends?
- Grieving Family Who Are Still Alive
- Teaching Kids About Healthy Relationships
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