I once heard someone say, “Kids are like farts, you only like your own.”
It’s disgusting, kind of funny, and sometimes a little true. However, I do love kids, and I like to be the house that all my kids’ friends want to come to. I like to get to know my kids’ friends. It’s always interesting to see what type of young people my kids are drawn to. I have one kid who always finds friends who share everything in common with him, another kid who tends to find friends a little calmer and lower maintenance than he is, and I have a daughter who seems to enjoy all personalities as long as they talk to her. I’ve enjoyed meeting so many different little kids and their parents.
Kids are kids though.
They are sticky, they sometimes smell funny and are sometimes messy, loud, age appropriately inappropriate, odd, and unique in their own way. Our kids may respond to some friends in different ways, by acting a little different when they are around. Sometimes other kids help our kids become better people, and sometimes they help lead our kids into trouble.
Of course we don’t want our kids to be friends with a kid who makes them mean or who is mean to them. We want our kids to find other kind and smart friends to be around. Many of us have heard our parents say, “we are the company that we keep,” and in many cases I agree with that.
But what if your child brings home a friend you don’t like?
I think most of us would say it’s justified to not like a kid who is teaching your child bad behavior.
But what if there really is no good reason for not liking the friend?
I found myself in this predicament a while back. My kids had a friend who would come over regularly and there was just something about the child I didn’t like, and it made me feel like a horrible mother, a horrible person for that matter.
How could I not like another person’s child?
There was just something about this kid that bothered me. However, she continually showed up at my door, and my kids continually played with her. I honestly felt horrible about my feelings toward this child; I even talked to a friend about how awful I felt.
Let’s be honest for just a second. Have you ever avoided parking next to a car because it looked dented or jacked up in the parking lot? And part of you thought, “I don’t want the person bumping into me and jacking up my nice car.” Have you ever met a child with a troubled personality and hoped their oddness didn’t rub off on your child and make your kid weird?
Well, I will admit, I think this was my problem. Yes it was my problem, not my kid’s problem and not that kid’s problem.
I communicate with my kids very well, and they are at an age that if I disallowed them to play with any child, I would owe them an explanation.
If I gave my kids an honest explanation as to why I didn’t want them to play with this kid, I would be teaching them something I fundamentally don’t believe in.
I believe we should always treat others with kindness, and we should always do our best to find the good in people. So I decided I would try and do just that with this child.
But then I started finding out that other parents felt the same way about this child. This made me feel a little relieved that it wasn’t just me, but it also made me feel bad for the kid.
Because what if that was my kid?
So I decided to start looking for the good in her when she was at my house. Also, I should add that this was one of the very few kids in my neighborhood who I didn’t have a friendship with the parent. I met the parents once, exchanged names and where we lived and that was it.
I looked for the good but other things kept bothering me.
If she stopped by to see if my kids could play, she couldn’t accept a “no, not right now” answer, she needed a full explanation with follow up questions. She ruined a piece of furniture I had and blamed my dog. And there were a few other things. While playing a game with my kids, I heard her yelling a bad word phrase. I let her know that we don’t use that language in our house. I also let her know that if she continued with that language, she would not be able to play here. The next day I got a call from one of my son’s teachers telling me that he had yelled the bad word phrase at a classmate.
Needless to say, I was upset. And I felt like I finally had a legitimate reason to put an end to this friendship.
I decided to have a talk with my kids about their friend and how I didn’t really want them hanging around her anymore.
My son, 10 years old, looked at me with sad eyes and said, “but mom I feel bad for her. The other kids in class don’t really like her and are not very nice to her. We are all she has to play with.”
My boys basically went on to tell me that although they thought her behavior was kind of weird and annoying at times, they just ignored that and focused on the fun they did have with her.
I ended up having my kids take a short break from playing with her as a punishment for the bad language used in class. But I also talked to them about being aware of any inappropriate behavior or language, making sure that all of their friends knew it wasn’t right and also letting me know.
My kids have remained friends with her, and I accepted her as their friend. I have also put more of a sincere effort into getting to know her.
My kids set an example for me.
As I said earlier, kids are kids. All kids just want to be loved and accepted. They want to feel wanted and liked for who they are. As a parent who wants kids to be at my house hanging out, my goal is to get to know each child for who he or she is.
Instead of trying to exile them for bad behavior, I will be a guide and example for good behavior. I do believe that love and kindness are what changes people and the world. That’s going to have to start with our children. So I am thankful my kids were a good example for me.