Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.

— Winston Churchill

Wondering on Wednesday: How Long Can Parents Choose Child’s Friends?

We moved to our current neighborhood in 2007 for several reasons, the most important of which was the idea it will provide abundant opportunity for our son, Aaron, to develop relationships with other children. He has a serious case of Only Child Syndrome, and we enrolled him in preschool for similar reasons. (I swear we didn’t enroll him in preschool so my husband and I could have afternoon sex).

Just before we moved, a good friend pulled me aside and explained that in order for Aaron to make friends, I actually have to be nice to the other mothers…I actually have to be social, and I actually have to participate in playground mommy chats, oh my. I was kind of hoping I could simply drop him off by the swing sets and he’d take care of the rest.

I’m not very good at the social mommy thing. I’m an introvert who has to morph in social situations. It’s been brought to my attention more than once that I have a tendency to come across as a bitch when really I’m simply quiet. Yes, I know, none of you are surprised by the bitch reference. I’m working on it.

I’ve had to learn-as-I-go and one thing that’s become very apparent over the last year is that Aaron doesn’t really choose his friends at all. I choose them based on whether or not I like the other parents. Other parents are deciding whether or not they want their child to play with Aaron based on what they think of me…yikes!

When I host a play date or schedule an outing with one of Aaron’s buddies, it’s more likely that I enjoy spending time with the other parent than whether or not Aaron initially showed interest in the other child. Thankfully, the moms and dads I like the most have children Aaron seems to really enjoy.

So, I’m wondering on Wednesday—how long will this utopia last?

When do children start choosing their own friends, regardless of whether or not the parents like or approve of each other, and will I really have to let him?

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12 comments to Wondering on Wednesday: How Long Can Parents Choose Child’s Friends?

  • donna

    Trust me it will happen. When it does you will wish that you could pick his friends again, but you can not. However you can help him see that the friends he picks are either good friends or are not so good. You can ban him from the bad ones and only let him go out with the good ones. But be aware that the bad ones are sneaky and will try to make you think they are good.

    When it happens be his parent and not his friend. He looks up to you for right and wrong, for guidence and support for what he does.
    Keep your eyes open and help him to go thru life without blinders on. Teach him to be a good person and all the rest will follow.


  • I would say around grade school is when they really start choosing their own friends. Because at that point they have a little more independence and you would trust him more to be on his own.

    WickedStepMoms last blog post..Giggly Bushes

  • We’re going through the same sort of thing. My husband is of the opinion that he already has enough friends and somewhere along the line stopped seeking other friendships out. That sort of left me to be the friend-maker in the neighborhood. It’s gone pretty well. After 3 years of living in our new neighborhood we are friendly with two other couples with kids around our kids ages. It’s a nice integration for Logan, he can play with his preschool buddies at school and then we have kids for him to hang out with on the weekends.

    My mother is an only child and so am I. I really love the way she understood that part of me when I was growing up. She worked a lot at friend-making, just so I would have playmates. I think what your friend told you is kind of true.

    Just remember to check your shy at the door when we get together this summer!!

    HeatherPrides last blog post..Butterflies Are Free (But Only Through the Age of Three)

  • I’m trying to think back as to when that stops, and I don’t remember. BUT I do know with 3 teens, I have no say whatsoever over their friends. I do still invoke praise to endorse the friends I like best. Instead of saying anything critical about a LOSER friend, I mention a positive quality about one of their friends I like. Fortunately, my kids have done a good job picking their friends for the most part. The biggest challenge came when RC played high school football. The whole team hung out together a lot and some of those boys … *shudder*.

    I’m exactly like you with the mom thing. I’m not a social person and the mom network makes me cringe. Fortunately, as the kids get older that disappears too. Thank God. Who wants to spend time with a bunch of hormonal, judgmental, competitive bitches? Oh wait … maybe that’s just Orange County!

  • You’ll have no problem realizing the moment he decides to choose for himself when he gives you “the look” at your suggestion to invite little Johnny over to play and he can’t stand LJ.

    Our personalities are exactly the same. People that don’t know me think I’m “stuck up” or “a bitch” when in fact I’m quite the opposite but very quiet. *sigh*

    Midlife Slicess last blog post..Market Center or Wild Kingdom?

  • Teenagers definately select their own friends. I was horrible at the helping of their social lives. I barely had time for work, grad classes and my own friends.

    One of my friends was so good at it that she had a hardtime letting go… the flip side.

    phhhsts last blog post..Meme Me Interview

  • I think it happens in time. We have family friends, families we hang out with and my kids (10,7) love and would pick to play with anyway. But it’s an extension of my choices still. They are family to us.

    But my kids are picking new friends too, and though I try to be friendly, I’m not particularly close to these moms. One seems far more introverted so we are quite a pair. I like that there isn’t pressure to hang out, just because our girls hit it off.

    It’s an interesting transition.

    Lisa Miltons last blog post..sickly and inspired

  • I like this. It means I am not the only one! A woman once told me, “I like you better the more I get to know you.” I knew what she was trying to say and I took it as a compliment. My standoffishness is due to a lack of social skill, not because I am trying to be a rude person. It takes thought for me to really make friends in our neighborhood. I don’t think I do it very well either. My own mother did not do this well and as a child I envied the kids whose mother’s were more involved socially. Even with that… I have a terrible time connecting myself to the social networks of playground mothering. I continue to make the effort.

    Queenofphrumps last blog post..Diversity

  • I have trouble with being quiet too. It’s just hard for me to think of things to say if I don’t know a person well. Sometimes even then I have trouble with that. I’m better with the written word. Maybe I should just hand out notes to people.

    My oldest is only 6, but she’s started making her own friends last year when she started Kindergarten and I no longer necessarily know the parents of the children she’s playing with.

    Heathers last blog post..Is it Just Me or Does She Look Like She’s Going to be Walking Soon?

  • My sons chose their own friends…beginning about age 4 when they were in pre-K. I’m not a social mommy either…but if they wanted to play with a particular child I would work out a play date. If I didn’t like the child (or parents) too much I wouldn’t work very hard at setting it up! At age 5-8 my older son had friendships with boys who lived next door, so that was easy.

    Smalltown Moms last blog post..Civic Duty

  • I would say mid-elementary school and by middle school you not only have no say but they sometimes like to pick the kids you would never pick. *sigh*

    Smart Mouth Broads last blog post..IT’S A THREE DOG NIGHT

  • By the time my kids hit third grade, they befriended on their own. That said, their tastes in children run along the same lines as my taste in parents, so most of their friends have parents whom I enjoy chatting with. (If, you know, I’m ever forced to chat.)

    patoiss last blog post..It’s on the Tip of My Tongue

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