12 November 2011

The Friend Thing

Hubby and I took Agent E (along with Agents J and A) to a favorite playground one afternoon last week. Several of her old preschool buddies were there. Ones she hadn't seen in the last few months because of our decision to homeschool. This lead to lots of hugging, giggling, and running about. And a wee bit of Momma Guilt.

E clearly missed her classmates, and had a great time, not surprising given her playground personality

Then the doubts started: By not sending her to school, am I unfairly limiting her opportunities to be with her peers? Am I denying her something she should be enjoying? Am I preventing her from developing relationships? What about all the fun she had? She missed her friends.

But, hold on just a minute . . . Do children even need friends?

Last month I wrote about the first part of Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need To Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate. A section later in the book, which I will likely muse about in greater detail in the future, talks a lot about friendship and what it means to and for young children. 
The very concept of friendship is meaningless when applied to immature people. As adults, we would not consider a person to be a true friend unless he treated us with consideration, acknowledged our boundaries, and respected us as individuals. A true friend supports our development and growth, regardless of how that would affect the relationship. This concept of friendship is based on a solid foundation of mutual respect and individuality. True friendship is not possible, therefore, until a certain level of maturity has been realized and a capacity for social integration has been achieved. Many children are not even remotely capable of such friendships.  
Until children are capable of true friendship, they really do not need friends, just attachments. And the only attachments a child needs are with family and those who share responsibility for the child. What a child really needs is to become capable of true friendship, a fruit of maturation that develops only in a viable relationship with a caring adult. Our time is more wisely spent cultivating relationships with the adults in our child's life than obsessing about their relationships with one another. (from Chapter 17, Don't Court the Competition, page 244)
So, do I think my children need friends? In short, no. They need security. They need attachments. They need adults who care about them. Friendships, real friendships, will develop in time. 

That's not to say the Agents (and Momma) don't enjoy a trip to the playground or a play date with someone other than their siblings every once in a while. We certainly enjoy the company of other families who have similar age children.

I simply don't buy into the whole "but children must to spend time with other kids to turn out okay" bit. That if they don't, they won't be . . . wait for it . . . social

I think what my children need right now is to enjoy learning and practice kindness. Everything else can wait. Even friends. 
Agents enjoying a beautiful Saturday

04 November 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (14)

Many thanks to Jennifer for hosting this each week. Be sure to click over to Conversion Diary to see her post and others linked up. These will all be quicker than usual because it's been, um, that kind of week.

1. Trick-or-treating Monday, followed by birthday cake Tuesday, equals way too much sweet going on here and we all could use some detoxing. (Okay, mostly Momma. If it is there, I will eat it. I can't help myself. No control when it comes to chocolate.)

2. Littlest Agent had three nights in a row that he didn't sleep well, so Momma didn't sleep well, either. I think I have totally blocked out what being up at night tending to babies is actually like, because those couple of nights about killed me. Hooray for co-sleeping, otherwise I am sure I would be dead by now.

3. Okay, someone please enlighten me on Catholic Bible Study. A commenter last week pointed it out as a distinction from, well, just regular old Bible study, I guess. Whatever that is. Am I missing something? Is there some super special secret way to study the Word that only Catholics are privy to? (I should probably note that I grew up going to Catholic church, religious education classes, etc. and never once did I open a Bible nor did anyone even suggest it to me as an option. The general message I received was: Catholics don't read the Bible. If there were something in there you were supposed to know about, the Pope would tell you. When I first started reading it on my own as an adult, it was . . . whoa. Probably another post there.)

With my little dragon
4. Agents and I all got flu vaccines this week. Hoping to lessen the chance of repeating last year's two weeks of torture when all three kids had the flu. Of course, I know it's not foolproof, but now I've done something proactive, and that always makes me feel better.

5. E and J like to play games based on various stories they are infatuated with at any given moment; currently it's Pooh and company. They assign each family member a role, and then do some improv. I am almost always Rabbit. Yes, my children consistently make me the most neurotic storybook/cartoon character of all time. I'm not sure what to make of that.

6. I haven't posted on this blog since last Friday's Quick Takes. I've been feeling a bit slacker-ish, but am looking forward to getting out of this funk and putting in some actual writing time.

7. I have also slacked on my weekly homeschooling wrap-ups, but hope to get back on track soon. Those small people require a lot of attention and time.