Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Friendships for Our Children

I've been thinking on some things lately, well I've thought about them for a long time now & I wonder if others with the larger than normal family think about the same issues? Do smaller families think about these things too? It has to do with your children's outside friendships.

When my children were younger their friends were my friend's children. If I would get together with a friend or family it was natural that my kids played with their kids and became friends through that familial relationship. This just has been the natural progression......something I'm used to & comfortable with. But it seems the older my kids get the harder it is to maintain that, even in the homeschool circle. I'm okay with the occasional outing one of my children might have with a friend & their parent or church group outing.........but I am not comfortable with frienships being consistently seperate from family involvement. I see it in churches. I see it in homeschool circles. I just don't see enough family focused fellowship. Why isn't family camp enough? Why do we have to have teen camp....where you send your teen off with the other teens from church to a Bible camp?

There have been times that even though the friendships we have our family based the parent of the other family will only invite one of my children to come over to spend time with one of their children.....they won't invite all of us. I find it to be like this the most with families that have 2 children..... a boy & a girl. Maybe this seems silly to say but it bugs me! The girl will only invite 1 or both of my older girls over or the boy will invite only my oldest son over because they are close to the same age. As you can imagine it can & has caused alot of strife among my children.

I get the feeling that the reason only 1 or 2 of my children are invited over is because it's an inconvience/or takes time away from their child's time with their friend........if my younger children are there they would have to share their time with their friend (my older child).....they don't want to be bothered with someone's younger sibiling. Is my child there just to entertain their's? Maybe I'm the unusual one but I just don't get it! It just seems like selfish gain/motivation. I would never want my children to have a friendship with someone that would take something away from their friend's family dynamics. I hope this makes sense. I just know the world seems to have one way of thinking about friendships & I have another. I want to foster in my children the love of family & family first. I want my children to become friends with & love people of all ages... not just someone in their own age group/or have their own selfish agenda. Certainly not at the expense of their family or others feelings. Believe me were not trying to be anti-social nor do we think we are better than others ......I just feel we have different family dynamics & certain ways of doing things don't fit for us. In some sense I feel we are punished for that.

My kids don't ask often for friends to come over. I think mostly because they have each other. But when they ask occasionally...it's asking for " the Smith family or the Martin family" to come over " Not Jenny or Todd". We invite all the siblings & their parent(s). If we have birthday parties we don't just invite one child in a family....we invite all of the kids & their parent(s). If we can't afford to do that because that family has 8 or more kids than we don't invite any of them.

I don't feel I'm doing this topic justice...maybe someone that writes better than I could get their thoughts out in a better way. I just know this subject brings me frustration because I don't think others understand what I mean or get where I'm coming from. I've felt this way for a long time but more so when I had some bad experiences by letting my children have consistent outside friendships that didn't involve our family. It hurt our family. Some people might think this is not living in the real world but I don't agree. I think it's so sad when you see young people so consumed with their friends....that life with their family is boring and mundane. They are just waiting for that time to get away & be with their friends. Wouldn't that kind of thinking just spill over into their adulthood, when they marry & have children? It's a scary thought to me.

7 comments:

Mrs Amy said...

I think you have made a really good point!! It is something we have already started thinking about for our little one, we know that we don't want to have her staying with family without one of us, simply because she is our responsiblity. This came up when my BIL asked us what kind of disipline we would let him use if he was watching her, my husband just said to him that it wouldn't matter cause she wouldn't be there with out one of us. My BIL asked why and Andrew just explained that it is our job to raise her and not someone elses. I realise that I have gone off topic but I think I understand what you are saying about family socialising, why can't we do it all together and not seperate based on age.

claimthemountain said...

This is an excellent point and I am so glad you brought it out. I see this so much among the families at our church. I RARELY see 2 families going out together to do things - just a family plus one or two 'extra' kids from another family. I really wish they would rethink that!

TravelinPilgrim said...

You have really hit the nail on the head! As my children are getting older, we have had to think about this more as well. We have always had a rule in our home regarding sleep-overs, they are not allowed unless one of us, as parents, are there. They have never spent the night anywhere except with Grandma and Grandpa and their aunt. I make it a big deal that the kids can have just about anybody to our house to play, but very rarely have they been able to go to someone else's house just to play unless mom or dad have gone as well. This is not always accepted, but mostly it is from other parents. I stress that it is not them, but I must have this general rule for everyone. Otherwise people get their feelings hurt. Am I being too strict, or just trying to watch out for my children? I would rather error on the side of being too strict than to have another child teach them something that is so wrong. It can happen anywhere, even in a homeschool circle. Yes, I cannot shelter them each day of their life, so I hope I am teaching them to notice these things on their own. We talk a lot about things at home. I'd rather they hear it from me. At least I know what they are hearing or doing. Does this help? I've just written a book!! :)

prov31rj said...

What a thought-inspring post this is. :)

I know what you mean about kids being "seperate" from parents and depending more on friends and peers. This is supposed to be something that we are getting away from and a reason we are homeschooling. We want to avoid the peer dependence.

That being said, I don't deal with a lot of what you posted about since dd is an only child. I can understand what you are saying, though.

His Tender Mercies said...

travlin pilgrim....

Thanks for commenting....it's so hard it seems to find people that think the way I do about this subject. I guess for me, having been through a difficult situation with one of my children by letting him be too consumed with an outside friendship ....... I'm very sensitive in this area.

Saved Sinner said...

This is something my husband and I have been talking about too (socialising as a whole family that is - we only have one child so far so large family size is not an issue). I do think that there is a cultural idea that children "need"/"should" have friendships completely separate from their family and that this is necessary in order for them to be independent. I guess it is similar in a way tot he idea that they "need" to go to school for "socialisation".

His Tender Mercies said...

saved sinner ~ thank you for your comment. I know friendship is important ...all people need it. I just think the idea that children, especially teenagers have to have friendships that are completely seperate from family in order for them to not be social misfits is crazy. I just love to see my kids involved with kids of all ages. Like when I have a friend over with little ones.....they are down on the floor playing with them. They don't run off and hide in the other room because there's nothing in it for them.