My daughter asked me; ’Mummy, how do you make friends?’ All my children’s lives, I have been a very protective mother. And this has meant that when they went to Playgroup or Nursery if I wasn’t comfortable with a child’s parents my kids played with then the friendship would not go beyond the playground. I left home at the age of 15 and growing up in a domestically violent home I knew what it was like not having anyone to protect me. Because of that I have always felt that one of my responsibilities as a mother is to protect my kids and make sure they are only around safe people.
This level of overprotection has meant that my kids didn’t make friends on their own. I would speak to the parents for a few months and watch how my kids played with their children in the playground, or I would ask the teacher to give me a report on how my children interacted with the other kids and then I would approach the parent(s) and ask if they would be okay to organize a play- date.
I don’t hang out with the parents of my children’s friends, but I like to know that if there are issues about the friendship and they can’t resolve them, we, the parents, can ask the children what happened and try to help them resolve things without leaving any resentment. And my children have kept all their friends from Nursery, Primary school up through the years.
So when my eldest daughter was starting High School I told her ‘now you are on your own when it comes to making friends and try to keep them.’
So this is why she asked me the question about making friends. I told her ‘ I know many people but not everyone is my friend.’ She said ‘Mum, I watch you when we go shopping and you start talking to a lady for a long time and then you tell her we can talk some more give me your number and I will text you.’
I told her she was right. If I feel it is someone I want to get to know then I will give my number or take theirs, but sometimes we text and then we both find that we don’t have anything in common so they become my acquaintance. We text occasionally but we won’t hang out.
I gave her this example: I went clothes shopping one day and started chatting with this lady for about half – an – hour and then suggested we exchange numbers. We contacted each other and we started to learn about one another. We learned that both of us worked in similar industries and then both chose to be stay- at- home mums. Then we started giving each other advice on relationships, kids etc. And then we became friends.
I told my daughter when she started at High School if there is a girl you want be friends with but are not sure about then write your number down and give it to her. If she starts texting you that is a good sign and you can learn about each other.
So, she took my advice. She was scared but she did it. Since the lockdown, her friends have been calling her and texting her. There is only one rule😂😂. No boys are allowed to text or call her.
Friendship is a wonderful gift. Friends make us laugh and cry; friends can teach us how to share, compromise and handle some conflicts that your family can’t help you with. We learn from a very young age that talking is one of the great benefits of friendship. But what happens when friendship withers and fades? As we get older this seems to happen. Friends move away or they get into relationships that take them away.
It is a fact of life that even some very close friendships somehow come to an end. You may have experienced that sadness and sense of loss. If so, you can start afresh.
The key to making friends is talk to people: at work, the supermarket, anywhere. Preferably people of your own age, sexual orientation, life experiences etc.
But talk, and see what happens.
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