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When your children are
little, you do their social networking for them. Meaning, you choose with whom
and when they play—usually with the children of mothers you hang out with. Then
your kids get older and it's time for them to make their own friends.
One of my kids did start making her own friends, and with a vengeance. She's a playdate whore. Can't get enough
playdates. Doesn't matter with whom she plays, she just wants to hook up. If
there were a town bicycle for playdates, she would be the one who gets ridden
all over. Luckily for her, she gets invited to a lot of places with a lot of
people. And because she begs constantly for people to come over, I try to honor
her enthusiasm and reciprocate when I can.
But with my older child,
my son, not so much. He's in 5th grade now, well into the autonomous
friend-making years, and while he has a couple of friends, he goes many weekends
without plans. He doesn't like sports, so he doesn't have the built-in social
base of a team, and other than giant birthday parties where everyone's invited,
not many invitations come his way.
So my question in this: Do
I promote his social life more, by asking him if he wants to have friends over
and trying to set things up, or do I let it be and understand that some kids
just aren't that interested in socializing? Isn't that what the terms loner, homebody and hermit are
for (not that I'm particularly psyched for my child to fit any of the above
terms)? It's hard for me and my husband to watch our daughter's dance card fill
up for the weekend while my son faces another few lonely days at home.
Wouldn't it make him feel bad if his own mother implied that he didn't have many friends?
Or are they lonely? Does
he like being home with us, without having to share us with his sister? Or
would he rather be out and about? And if he would prefer to have friends over,
wouldn't he ask me? Wouldn't it make him feel bad if his own mother implied
that he didn't have many friends?
I never had a teeming
social life as a child, and I kind of wish I had. My father didn't like a lot
of kids running around, and we always lived far away from my friends, so it's
not like I could just ride my bike down the block. So I was home a lot, while
my friends whose families were close planned barbecues and holidays and trips
together, saw each other at Hebrew school and at soccer games. Our family just
did its own thing.
So it's impossible for me
not to pass judgment on the current state of affairs and wish I could create a
different set of circumstances for my own family. My husband grew up in more of
the scenario I just described, taking ski vacations with other families and
always hanging out with large groups of kids. He loved it and wants that for
Maybe it is better that way. Can you say that
though, unequivocally? Or should I just stop the mental loop of insanity and
realize that one day I'll be stewing about my daughter's poor grades and lack
of academic ambition, and wish that I'd focused more on that during the early years?