All any parent wants is for their child to be happy - ultimately. And nothing is more upsetting than the idea that they could be rejected by their peers at school.
But sometimes I wonder, what is the value that my children individually place on their needs for friendship and “acceptance”.
For many children, starting school can be their real first taste of feeling accepted emotionally outside the home. Every persons’ value system is different, and acceptance may be lower in the hierarchy for some than others.
It's difficult to remember this sometimes, and offen we will automatically apply our own value system, assuming others will feel the same or similar. This is often exacerbated when we find ourselves in an emotionally confronting situation - I.e. Little johny says he plays by himself at lunchtime.
One of my children can be very introverted and finds it easier/more enjoyable to have one or two friends. Those relationships that he does strike up are intense ones. Consequently he will often come home upset that his friend wouldn't play with him. When I gently suggest that maybe he might find it fun to make other friends too; he looks at me perplexed “but mum I don't need any other friends- I have two”. Every day that I pick him up, we talk about what he did that day at school - sometimes he will say (unemotively) that he played by himself at morning tea and lunch. As a mum, the idea that you child is lonely &/or that other children won't play with them can be heartbreaking. But then I wonder, is he happy like that?!
It's something that makes me sad based on my maternal need to protect him. I must remember that he needs to be allowed to grow and be his own person, and this includes learning what things he values e.g. Is it lots of time with friends or some? Lots of friends, or few? Alone time?
It’s funny how history can repeat itself, and how the actions of your children can often strike in yourself a moment of epiphany. The epiphany being that as a child I was just like him. And if I'm being truthful, as an adult I am just like him. I can be social, I know how to make friends easily and enjoy the company of others. But in all honesty I enjoy my own company more. I enjoy quiet contemplation over raucous and rowdy and I enjoy having a couple of rocks for friends over many. My son reminded me of this, and reminded me of my need to respect his needs, to respect his values and to allow them to grow without implanting what the “norm” is from myself and from society. I can't promise him it won't make me sad when he says he spent his lunchtime alone - but that's because I hope it's on his terms. I will however be proud of him being confident to listen to and let his values grow.