A Question of Following and Friendship
Question from a father:
I have two daughters. One of them is six years old and the other one is two years old. My elder daughter has many friends, but sometime I get the feeling that they are trying to avoid her. She still follows them around and wants to hang around with them. How should I convince her not to follow them?
This is a big question. A hot topic in parenting circles today is the balance between sheltering and protecting children vs. letting them make their own choices, choices that might put them in a situation where they could end up facing problems and difficulties.
As parents, and probably more so as parents of young children, we want to keep our children safe from people or situations that could end up causing them hurt—whether emotionally, physically, or other forms of hurt. This is definitely one of our primary responsibilities as parents: to protect our children from any sort of harm or danger.
Unfortunately, things are not always so clear cut, such as your situation stated above. You are concerned, and rightly so, about the effect on your daughter if she were to continue following a group of kids that don’t seem to want her around. You might even feel that they are not the best influence on her in the first place. However, as our children have their own perspectives, your daughter might see it differently. From her perspective, they are probably “cool” kids; maybe she has fun interacting with them.
What is the answer? The exact solution would be different for each child, as every child is in a unique place mentally, physically and emotionally. A strategy instituted by one parent might work great for one child but be an absolute flop for the next child. Even something that works for a time will not always be the answer. Children change and grow, just as we do…or should be doing.
In this particular situation, I would ask a couple of questions:
- What other options does your daughter have as far as interaction and friendship if she didn’t have these children to interact with?
- Why do you feel that her interaction with this group of children is negative? For instance, does it affect her overall attitude and demeanor?
- Have you witnessed one or more of the children talking negatively to her, or is it a matter of your concern that she might be hurt if she realizes they are avoiding her?
Answers to the above questions could help in more specific advice, but here are a few general tips and ideas:
- Work to create opportunities for her to interact with other groups of children.
- Sign her up for a class, or take her to the park, or find other places and situations that she can meet and play with other children.
- Try to get her interested in other things by creating more opportunities for fun and learning with you, as a parent.
- There are many websites that give ideas for educational activities and more, or take time to teach her a skill, such as riding a bike or some form of artwork.
Communication is also a great key in a parent/child relationship. Sometimes our children need a reminder that we are there as a friend and that we have their best interests—their happiness and overall well being—in mind. Of course, we can’t fulfill every need of a child for friendship, fun, and education, but if they know we are accepting and encouraging, we will be able to more easily guide them into making the right decisions.
We won’t always be with our children, right next to them, telling or advising the way that they should go, but as we consistently pour into them day by day, the things we instill in their hearts and minds will be with them always, no matter how old they are.
(Image by © Roy Morsch/zefa/Corbis)
Posted on June 2, 2011, in Life Lessons and tagged attention, children, father, friendship, fun, life, parenting, preparation, protective parent, questions, safety, sheltering, true friend. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.