My three boys argue and fight. They are three very different people and they all think they are the alpha male in the house. They are all assertive kids with opinions, ideas and good vocabularies. They can stand their ground and they will physically defend themselves if attacked. Sometimes, they are the one attacking one of the others.
They are also really great fun. They are smart enough and work hard enough that they will manage school and eventually, real life. Their teachers tell me they have strong friendships but can move fluidly between social groups. Other adults frequently tell me they enjoy their company. I have enough knowledge to realise they are all emotionally attached to me in a healthy way – neither too dependent nor independent for their ages. They are perfectly capable of being together in harmony and often play together well. But they scrap most days and often more than once a day.
As a result, they are learning to make things work between them; to repair relationships when they have been ruptured; and to understand there are aspects of living in a group, which involve compromise and imperfection. They know how to apologise and they know how to dress minor wounds.
They also know they can depend on me to intervene and not allow one to bully or dominate any of the others; no one gets away with emotional blackmail. No one gets to play persecutor. No one gets to play victim. I do my best to mediate rather than rescue when things aren’t harmonious.
I doubt my boys will be friends when they are adults, and that’s just fine. Part of my parenting agenda is to not have an agenda for their adulthoods. If they do end up being friends that’s a bonus, as far as I am concerned. Raising mature and socially capable individuals is my ultimate goal and what happens next is entirely up to them.
I have friends who are very close to their siblings and friends who are not at all interested in spending time with any of their family members. Some are close in age; other are not. Some are from a group of single sex siblings; others are not. People – to me – are who they are, and some get on with one another and others don’t. I really can’t see why siblings should be any different. Yet, I seem to be alone in this point of view.
I seldom go a day without hearing a parent say: they had their children close in age…so they will be friends; they strongly desire their children to be friends when they are adults; or they despair that their children will never be friends with one another. Why? What is it that I don’t see or understand? Can anyone explain this to me?
What do you think? Is it ideal for our children to be friends with one another?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Karyn Van Der Zwet in New Zealand. Author of ‘All About Tantrums’ and the blog ‘kloppenmum‘.
Photo credit to the author.
In 1983 I was 14 years old and I’d fallen in love for the first time. The object of my affection was an American boy by the name of Campbell T Fisher Jr (known as Toby). He and his family were sailing around the world in a small yacht. Their “modus operandi” was to stay in a place only for as long as it took them to earn enough money for fuel and provisions (for the next leg of their journey).
From the moment we met at a school dance, we knew that our time together was precious. Back then there were no cell phones (hence no texting) and no Internet. His parents didn’t have a car and mine worked all day, so we used to walk (a lot) to wherever we wanted to go. Money was tight for both of us, so going to watch a movie was a rare treat. The first movie he took me to see was “An Officer and A Gentleman” which was being shown at the Yacht Club where his family’s yacht was anchored. I remember thinking that the movie was so appropriate because Toby was my” officer and gentleman.”
Unfortunately they were only in Cape Town for 6 months. I was totally devastated when he sailed away, but we vowed to keep in touch and get together again as soon as possible. Keeping in touch meant “snail mail.” We’d write long, rambling letters telling each other everything that was happening in our lives. Of course, by the time the letter arrived, most of the news was “stale.” We also sent each other “mixed tapes.” Do you remember those? We’d put together compilations of sappy love songs and mail them to each other! (more…)
Relationships are the key to life…
Lately, in my personal life there have been many changes. And I started wondering about relationships and how much importance and attachment we give to them. And the fact that certain relationships make or break our life.
For instance, the relationship each one of us have with our children as mothers is so precious and may seem to signify the epitome of any wholesome relationship. But what is it that we share with our children that we cherish in this relationship? Love is a very poignant word, and I sometimes wonder the real meaning of it. Maybe it is the capacity to give your life for your child? Perhaps!
And then we have these relationships with our spouses and meaningful others. Other than physical intimacy, emotional attachment and love (again, that word) what else do we share with them? An interdependency, trust, common value system and a few other things like this. But what is a relationship based on? (more…)
Between the ages of 4 and 16, I was a Girl Scout. I sold cookies, calendars, cans of nuts; went camping, learned to tie knots and start campfires; made new friends, crafts and sewed badges on my vest (or, rather, my mom probably did that one). I completed my Silver Award, but dropped out of the Scouts before I could reach the Gold Award. Being a Girl Scout wasn’t cool, and I gave it up.
Considering I only had one more project to reach the top of the Girl Scout pyramid, I’ve always been slightly disappointed in myself for quitting. The organization was fun, and it was a place where I developed close friendships. I even worked for a short period of time at the local office.
I always imagined my own children would be Scouts. I imagined camping trips, teaching them to tie knots (I used to be really good at tying knots), helping them earn badges, and watching them make a bunch of new friendships that would last the rest of their lives. (more…)
The author holding her son after completing the Best Buddies 5K in August 2012.
I hold my breath as my five-year old son zooms around the playground. There are children laughing and squealing all around us. Games of tag and the sound of ring-around-the-rosey sung in unison fill the evening air.
My son continues to run in circles as if he is the only child on the playground. Another child approaches him and catches his attention. He stops. My heart starts pounding and I convince myself to wait and watch before jumping in to help him navigate this brief social encounter. It’s over as quickly as it began and he is back to zooming around the playground.
Some of the moms and other children begin to stare. Most smile politely and continue on with what they were doing and I sink back into my seat, wondering what the future will hold for my son. This is a typical day in the life of my five-year old son who is diagnosed with autism and cognitive delay. While my other typically developing five-year old son is eager to play with friends on the playground, my son with special needs is satisfied to stay within his comfort zone of isolation.
Could you imagine a world without friendship? I certainly could not.
So one day I asked myself if my son is truly happy playing alone with only brief and superficial social encounters. Doesn’t he really crave friendship like his brother? Although my son is limited verbally, a single conversation was enough to clarify that he did indeed want to make friends. As his mother, I was determined to help him do it. (more…)
Teddy Bear Picnic Fundraiser
Global awareness has been identified, by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, as key to the success of today’s young people. I have always prided myself on my commitment to raising my three young daughters to understand the challenges that people all over the world face on a daily basis. Despite my best efforts, I felt like I was failing. Of no fault of their own, given their young ages, I felt that they were slowly being swallowed up by a world driven, at times, by materialism and egocentrism. As their mom, I knew it was my responsibility to raise them as globally aware citizens. But how?
The major stumbling block at the time was their young age. How would I ever manage to teach my daughters to be empathetic when they were all under the age of 6! After much thought, I realized that the only way to accomplish this was to truly involve them in the process right from the start. So, no fancy and sophisticated fundraisers, no black tie events, no galas…but a teddy bear picnic: absolutely! (more…)