Close your eyes and imagine your child all grown up, savoring a free weekend. What do you see?
Is your daughter grabbing brunch with her pals? Is your son joining his pick-up basketball team on the court? Or perhaps you envision your kids enjoying a hike or a museum exhibit with a couple of close friends?
Regardless of what your vision for your child’s future involves, I bet it doesn’t include him or her sitting miserably at home, feeling lonely and friendless. As parents, we want our children to thrive socially, forming close bonds with their peers.
So, we encourage our children to make friends from the first years of their lives. We sign them up for baby classes and send them to preschool. We arrange playdates and nudge them towards other children at the playground. We tell them to share, organize group games, and teach conflict resolution skills to handle any inevitable skirmishes that arise between them and their new buddies.
But as we work to support our kids’ fledgling social lives, how many of us nurture our own friendships? How many of us are focused on our own social bonds with our own peers?
Too often, the responsibilities of work, home, and parenting take priority over our own social lives. We spend our days chasing down Hydra-esque To-Do lists – for every item we cross off, two seem to grow in its place.
We lose touch with friends who aren’t parents because they seem to be living in a different world. And we lose touch with friends who are parents because they’re as insanely busy as we are.
Making Friends for my Child’s Sake
A shy and awkward kid, I went through a lot of social drama. In school, I felt that no one understood me and often struggled to make friends. As a nerd, immigrant, and scholarship student at a fancy private school, I was objectively very different from my classmates.