Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Do You Dislike Your Child's Friends...?

Apparently you are not alone! I have to say though, my children have excellent taste in friends. Charlotte has a few close friends whom are all really lovely whilst Zachary has a great group of kids around him. They have been close since they started school and can see them being friends for life. 

As responsible adults, we like to think we’re above the politics of the playground that our children may bring home with them. But here’s the thing: we aren’t, and that’s kind of “official”, no matter what we might think!

A fascinating new study reveals that very few of us can prevent our basic instincts, whereby the protection and care of our children is paramount, from sneaking up to the surface and clouding our otherwise objective viewpoint.

Most mums will know the feeling of developing a bit of a dislike for one of our children’s friends, perhaps based on meeting the child in question and/or from listening to our own children’s comments about what the child said or did etc. So if you do feel this way, you’re not alone and it’s perfectly natural. According to the research provided by Voucherbox, a staggering 40% of parents surveyed actively dislike at least one of their child(ren)’s friends. Meanwhile, around 33% of parents surveyed also said they actively dislike the parents of their children’s friends as well.

The reasons for this dislike are many and varied but include things like bad behaviour of the child(ren) in question, the fact that these children are perceived to be spoilt, and/or that they are manipulative or bullies. What’s more, the males of the species are slightly more intolerant than we women are of our offspring’s friends' parents – and they’re also more likely to have to voice their “concerns” in this regard when it comes to advising the kids. That’s right; the Dads are more forward than we Mums are in encouraging our children to seek friendships elsewhere.

And finally, the survey reveals that over a third of us won’t even invite the children we don’t particularly like to our own child’s playdates as we try to discourage further friendship forming.

So those feelings you may have been having about your children’s friends, and that you may have been feeling you really ought to rise above, are far more common than you may have been thinking. But this should come as no surprise; after all, we’re only sophisticated apes at the end of the day and no matter how sophisticated we may be in other areas - when it comes to our own children, our more primeval instincts tend to kick in. It’s a little like the old “fight or flight” type response that explains a lot of human behaviours; where our children are concerned, the bond of love is so strong that we are sometimes blind to the imperfections in our own children and we tend to be overly protective.

Maybe we shouldn’t be beating ourselves up about this stuff too much, but at the same time, maybe we should try and reflect in our more rational moments that we aren’t always being too rational here. Learning to cope with difficult people is a life skill that we all need to develop. And if your child is choosing difficult people at an early age, maybe it’s not necessarily all bad. Instead, it’s positive for development. If they can see for themselves the fundamental flaws in others, and learn to cope in the way they see fit with your help and guidance – this is surely better for their longer term development than the avoidance we may naturally try to impose on them?

Either way, please stop worrying – you certainly aren’t alone in your most natural of feelings here.

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