It’s Just the Begining…
Every stage of parenting has its difficulties. Just when I think the worst is over, something new gets thrown my way. When it comes to my daughter Clara, everything is new for us. She is my oldest and every step of her journey I’m experiencing for the first time as a parent.
Right now inclusiveness is everything. We want to teach our children inclusion, but I’m also faced with the concept of teaching Clara to make good choices about the company she chooses. When kids are young we tell them how important it is to be kind to everyone. The goal is finding a way to teach them how to be kind even when someone isn’t kind to them. A trait children can carry with them forever.
Reality Sets In
The harsh reality is at some point our children will choose friends. They will be in situations where they don’t get along with someone else. They need to take a step back and ask themselves some important questions.
“Does this person make me feel good?”
“Does this person help make me a better person.”
The answer is not always yes. I am not suggesting they go out of their way to leave someone out, but it’s natural for our children to develop groups of friends the older they get. Instead of telling our children they should include everyone, we should encourage them to make decisions they feel comfortable with.
Up until this point, my daughter’s friends were hand-picked for her. My friends composed her social circle. When she was younger we went to mom and tot classes, parks, anywhere I could have social interaction with other moms of small children. We both made friends and I am very fortunate that many years later I can count many of these women as part of my tribe.
It was easy for me to create my daughter’s friend group as an off-shoot of my own. If I didn’t coordinate the playdate it didn’t happen. Now Clara is making friends on her own. The relationships she is making at school are those that are meaningful to her. I’m barely an active participant other than answering yes or no to, “Can I play with so-and-so?”
New Friends and New Choices
Recently we have found ourselves in a situation where my daughter just didn’t mix well with another girl. We have tried to include her, without fail, every time they are together she is mean to my daughter. I’m talking “Mean Girls” mean at eight years old. The little girl comments on clothing and hair about her friends. My daughter desperately wants to be friends with this girl and develop a friendship.
I know I’m supposed to let my daughter figure these things out on her own. At the same time, I want to say “stay away from this girl! You are better than this, you are amazing!”
Instead, I have put the choice in my daughter’s hands. I remind her of her worth, and how much value she has to give her friends. I tell my daughter that she gets to choose who her friends are and explain the importance of choosing people that bring out the best in her.
It is an extremely difficult position to be in as a parent and I know it won’t be our last. We want our children to be kind and loving to everyone they come in contact with, but we hope they don’t compromise their self-worth. We want our children to be happy, and to be the kind of adults we want to send out into the world!