Forced Friendship

I think I have posted about this a bit in the past, but, sorry when you have been doing this for almost 4 years, it’s hard to keep everything straight.

But lately I have been feeling weird about Declan’s friendships. Partly because he is in summer camp and cut off from the whole big crew he normally runs with from school, and partly because the kids at his summer camp are less than stellar influences on him. One child in particular has been troublesome, and even though I have always subscribed to my mom’s golden rule of STAYING OUT of kid squabbles, I have stuck my nose into these arguments more than I ever have before, just because they have felt more ugly and Declan has needed more help negotiating them. I have tried to be polite, but UGH. I want to say, “JUST DON’T EVER TALK TO HIM AGAIN, OK? DONE. FIXED.”

It’s not that easy.

And this weekend, at one of my various parties (we had 4 of them, for those counting), we were talking about how different it is for kids and friendships and play these days. I used to get kicked out the door into the neighborhood and was required to be home when the street light came on. The negotiations were mainly up to me, and the kids I hung with were mainly up to me.

But we live in an urban neighborhood. I can let Declan into my fenced backyard – but I don’t ever let him play in the front unattended. There are cars and crazy people up there, yo! Not to mention all the scheduling conflicts with both parents AND friends. We all run around like banshees these days, don’t we?

I set up a standing Tuesday night playdate with Declan’s best friend early on in the summer so they, at least, would maintain contact. This kid is very well suited to Declan *and* is older, so his maturity is refreshing right now when Declan seems to be regressing to pretty much right to his Terrible Twos, if I am being honest.

It does feel a bit forced to have this standing date to make sure my son and his best friend stay in touch… but all of us dig it, it works, so that’s what we do.

Much better than hanging with the kid from summer camp every Tuesday night, right?

This article has 8 comments

  1. velocibadgergirl

    At that age, kids rely on “forced friendship” to stay in touch. Otherwise, how can they? I’m guessing they don’t email each other yet, or talk much on the phone. And they can’t meet up at the mall or anything.

    I met my best friend in Kindergarten at age 5. During the summers and after she changed schools at the beginning of 3rd grade, the only reason we saw each other was because our mothers made an effort to get us together regularly. We’re 28 now and still best friends, but if our moms hadn’t forced us to hang out, we definitely would’ve lost touch. I am profoundly grateful that our moms “made” us stay friends.

  2. zipper

    Is IS so different for kids these days. We were out on the baseball field all summer long. Pretty much left to our own devices.

  3. Mary Lynn

    That’s so cool you’ve set up a regular playdate for him. I don’t think that’s forced at all, since they’re already friends to begin with.

    I grew up in a rural area, about a ten minute drive outside of the town where I went to school. Through most of the summer I hardly saw my friends at all, and there really weren’t any kids my age who lived near us. My mom would have my best friend come to visit me a couple of times and I would go to visit her at her house. Neither of us saw this as forced friendship–we were too busy having fun playing together.

  4. fidget

    Im all for limiting the time spent with bad influences. By providing him another alternative, you are keeping him from feeling like he cant do anything. We have some rather unsavory neighborhood heathens and my children are only allowed to spend time with them under very strict supervision and certain arranged condition because i KNOW what will happen if it happens more often and this does NOT please me. Im actually dreading kindergarten b/c my one daughter will be riding the bus with these heathens in just a few short weeks *sighs*

  5. thatgirlblogs

    oh, we have a lot of that going on over here, no worries. if you lived closer I’d force your kid to play with mine!

  6. Nat

    sounds like a good idea to me…

    It’s hard with the summer situation because you know these kids are just passing through. Next year maybe try a different camp?

  7. dawn

    i still want to stick my nose into my daughter’s relationships and she’s TWENTY ONE! i can’t help it. mama bear gets vewwy cranky when her baby cub gets exposed and hurt by other’s, well…stuff. you have found the perfect balance i think. play dates are wonderful. wonderful for the kids, wonderful for us big kids.

  8. Karen

    There’s nothing wrong with sticking your nose in when it’s needed. Where your family are concerned and things don’t sit right with you, you are at liberty to stick your nose where you see fit.

    Sure, it’s good for chidren to establish their own friendships, but they also need guidance and limitations when other personalities have less than charming influence over them.

    Good for you for poking your nose in!!! lol

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