The big birthday bash is coming up later tonight. Thank you for your great ideas. The party talk has got me to thinking though.

We are having a family party, not friends. My kids are the youngest of all the cousins. All of the wonderful ideas for tutus and dress-up and such just wouldn't work with the 8 to 14-year-old crowd.
The thought of little girls trying to bowl in fancy princess clothes is so adorably hilarious that I toyed with the idea of changing to a friend party instead- or simply inviting some friends along too.
Then,it hit me. My children do not have friends. I couldn't think of any friends to invite. Not a single one.
Sure, they know other kids. They see kids at church on Sunday. My son is back in pre-school. They are in a little gymnastics class at the local Y. But none of these others are friends.
We have never invited other kids over "just to play." I babysat a 4-year-old all day today. After she left, I asked my own if they had fun with her. Both gave a resounding "no."
I realized that I have spent so much effort into ensuring that my son and daughter view each other as their own best friend, that I have failed to allow them to have other friends. (I realize the brother/sister best friend gig will only last for so long, but I keep my fingers crossed.)
I called my son to me as I pondered on all of this. I asked him if he could have any friend over to play, who would it be?
His answer? My 13-year-old niece. I told him he needed to think of someone closer to his age. He then came up with another niece- several years older than him. Next, I said ok- no cousins. Who could we invite over to play next week? After a lot of thinking, he mentioned a boy from his pre school class last year. Last year!

What have I done? What should I do?

So much of how we as parents control our children is like a chess game. We move them along, prodding slowly forward, a few mishaps back, but always aiming to a final goal. The question: is the opponent the big scary world out there or is it myself? Is my sheltering of my most prized game pieces actually causing more harm than good?
I am quite sure that we are inviting someone over to play next week. And hopefully the next, and maybe the next after that. Now I just have to figure out who.


  1. I think the best place to start is a playgroup. Obviously there are other kids AROUND, so just call up their moms and ask to get together at a local park. Certainly your kids are bound to find someone as they spend time with them. Right? And maybe you will find yourself closer to some other mommy friends too...couldn't hurt. :)

  2. Having been in the same situation, I can honestly say that this is not a problem at all! I have four kids, and they always have entertained one another. They too, didn't have any other little friends other than the kids at church, and no one in particular became close during the very early preschool years. However once they reached kindergarten, I needed a separate calendar just to keep track of playdates! lol You aren't doing anything wrong at all by letting them become close friends as siblings! When there are no playdate days at my house, they still have each other and no one complains! =)

  3. My best friends are all family members. I have a few friends who aren't related, but my best are. I think it is important to have your kids get along with each other, but I also think it is important for them to interact with others outside of their family, too. My kids mostly play with each other, but we do have friends to play sometimes. You need to find a good balance, but I wouldn't stress about it. They have time!

  4. OH MY GOSH, CAMILLE! I could have written this! Seriously, I am starting to wonder if we were seperated at birth.

    I used to have some of the same guilt feelings. I don't feel that way anymore. Partly because they can really articulate the things that they are thinking and feeling. They let me know when they need something that I can't give them. Things have started changing a little as they age. I think there is a natural progression, whether you like it or not. Now, they play with friends once and a while. (but not very much) It's their choice. I think they are well rounded kids who can adapt well to social situations... but don't NEED it. I think it's a bit of an injustice to constantly be entertaining your kids. Kids need to be stimulated socially and mentally- but not all the time! At the end of the day- they will only have their family, and I feel like it is my gift to them, to help cultivate that relationship. It's not always automatic. My brother and I didn't enjoy each other AT ALL... and my mom didn't really do anything to change or help it. I'm close to him now, but only because I'm close to his wife. If you were to ask my kids they would tell you, some of their favorite memories are our lazy days at home.

  5. Just count your blessings Eli doesn't go to Kindergarten this year--it is a killer adjustment for ME and Matthew. Matthew whines the whole time for Isaac!

    The problem Camille is that you live outside of civilization and too close to family ;)

  6. Ah, I wouldn't be too hard on yourself. Once your kids get into school they will have tons of friends. My nieces (grades 1 & 2) already have friends calling the house just to 'talk.' It'll all happen eventually by itself. Having others over to play is good if you want to, but I wouldn't expect too much out of it. Maybe kill two birds with one stone - find a family who has a kid the right age who just had another baby. Then do service by having that kid(s) over to play once or twice a week so the other mommy can get some sleep. You'll be having a playdate, but you'll also be showing your kids that service and helping others is important.

  7. I think inviting kids over is a great way to start. A party is good way to do that too. Maybe a Halloween party?

  8. Don't worry. Grace didn't really start having friends until we moved here. (Plus there is a 4 yr age gap between the two girls). When I do a guest list for a friend party its... just the kids in her primary class and to be quite honest, Grace is so shy, she doesn't even speak to any of them. But I figure that she will be growing up with these kids so I can start with baby steps. ;)

  9. We're free for a playdate!!! :)

    I started scheduling playdates for my oldest when he entered nursery because he didn't have any siblings yet and I noticed that he needed to develop some social skills. We've had playmates ever since. I try to make sure that we've got at least one playdate every week because I really do think it is important for young children to learn how to get along with many personalities, how to share their toys, and how to behave at other people's homes. Don't get me wrong - it WAY more important that they are close to their sibs. Family unity is top on the priority list around here.

    ALL THAT BEING SAID, I am extremely selective about who we play with. For the first few playdates with new friends the parents are always expected to come as well. I watch how they treat their children and handle scuffles. We sip lemonade and have snacks while the kids play and I casually pick their brains on personal beliefs, parenting practices, etc. My children are allowed to go out to a very select few homes where I have spent lots of time and feel completely comfortable.

    Dysfunctional mommy's idea was a good one - throw a Halloween party and see who your kids hit it off with. Or get to know a few moms at the party and invite them back on an individual basis.