Hi! Can you really stay friends with people who have different parenting styles than yours? I am evaluating some friendships now that I became a parent. My DS has social anxiety and I cannot take him to every play date or event where groups are big. I wanted to keep it low key with 2-3 kids because my DS is more comfortable in those situations. The thing is, 3 of my mom friends have 4 or more other mom friends that they regularly see usually in outdoor bigger play dates. I feel left out when we see them. Do I need to keep seeing them? Also, I often suggest for home play dates but they always plan outdoor stuff that involves driving to places and paying a facility. I am starting to see our neighbors who have the same style as mine but sometimes I miss my friends. They mean well but I am having a hard time because DS is always miserable during those type of events. Anybody on the same boat with me? What did you do? Thanks!
Loosing friends because of differences in parenting styles
It sounds like parenting style differences isn't playing a big part in this so much differences in what the kids can handle. It sounds like their kids thrive on outdoor time and playdates with lots of kids while your child doesn't.
Have you explained to your friends about your child's social anxiety and why you can't really do the outdoor, large play dates? They may not realize that these playdates are so hard on your son. It's unfair of you to ask them to stop going to the large playdates that their kids enjoy, but it's perfectly fair to ask them to make time for you and your child and include playdates that your son can handle. If they know why you're suggesting home play dates and still refuse to do them, they may not respect your son's situation and it may be time for you to find new friends for your son to play with. I don't know how you can find other kids that enjoy smaller playdates, but I'm sure it's possible.
Hi! Thanks for your beautiful response. I did explain it to them, but they keep on suggesting to take him all the time so that he will get use to it. This is where I can see a difference in parenting style. I believe in waiting for the right time and pick our activities because of his anxiety. I got tired of hosting home play dates because I am the one doing it all the time. My DS is 2.5 and I have a 1 DD as well. They were so close together I cannot just take them everywhere. All of my friends have only one child. When it is their turn for a play date it has to be outdoors like the mall or gym. I got tired of it and I can see this in the future. It is also getting expensive. One of the reasons why I want my kids to socialize with them is because the group has the same culture where I was from. It also does not help that they meet on a monthly basis for parties for adults and we only attend the kids parties because of our schedule. They have a very tight playgroup and only 1-2 moms are my close friends but I feel like you have to invite everybody because they are in a playgroup . I just faded out but we still bump with each other at church..etc. Hope this makes more sense. I think it is time for me to find a new playgroup. I really feel left out every time we meet. We will continue to attend kids birthday parties but do not know until when. Thanks you for your perspective. It really helps to have someone see it from a different point of view.
I don't think they understand social anxiety. It's not something that can easily be 'just gotten used to'. Is your son being treated for his anxiety? I would talk to his doctors to get their opinion just to make sure, but it's generally better not to throw a kid with problems like that into the deep end. Small steps are needed.
You could try inviting 1 or 2 people that you consider close friends and see if they'd be willing to continue having small groups in a way that your child needs. I appreciate why you don't want to, but it's worth a try.
I would see if there's any sort of support system for parents of kids with special needs. It would be easier for you to make playdates that work for your son if you're talking to parents who understand what you're going through and that your son's problems aren't something he can just "get over".
Thanks again for taking time to reply. I am a special education teacher and I did a lot of stuff for my DS. He was not diagnosed for social anxiety, this is just how I describe his reaction when he is with new people in closer proximity but not all the time. He is fine at church, grocery, gym and public areas. It is when you take him to parties where there are a lot of adults who are into his face. My doc is not concerned and said to use aversion therapy but not take him to big events where all of us will end stressed out and miserable. I might sound like a broken record but the only reason I let him join the playgroup is because of culture and language exposure. He has a few friends in the neighborhood whom we hag out regularly and he is fine with it. It is just that he gets invited by the other playgroup for birthdays that he freaks out because he does not see them a lot. I did offer smaller play dates at home but I got tired because I always host at home but then when it their turn it is always a big event outdoors with lots of kids . This has been going on for 4 times already and I get exhausted. I do not think they understand my situation and I get tired answering questions on "why he is like" that and that "he will get use to it". Introverts run in the family, dad, uncle and grandma are all introvert and they can relate to my DS. I am hoping for the best. Thanks for your insight. You were right in saying it is not fair for me to ask them to limit their activities because of my DS but also if they really are true friends and understand my situation they will respect my future decisions. Thanks!
OP, how about taking a break from the group? Let your son grow up some more and try later. I totally understand the culture/language as we are living in US and are south asians. But sometimes, we get too fixated on the culture aspect. My son also has social and other challenges, though it seems your son is doing great with other kids. Let him play with people he likes and maybe in time, you can explain to him and talk to him why you want to hang out with "other friends" and he may get it.
Also, I honestly believe that if a friendship stresses you out even after several attempts from your side, let it go. It's not worth it.
I do not think they understand my situation and I get tired answering questions on "why he is like" that and that "he will get use to it". ... You were right in saying it is not fair for me to ask them to limit their activities because of my DS but also if they really are true friends and understand my situation they will respect my future decisions. Thanks!
I have a DD with a social anxiety disorder as well as autism. I've lost more friends than I kept, and I've made peace with the fact that most people just don't get it.
If there is anyone in that group that you REALLY value as a friend, then be frank with them that the "he will get used to it" comments are unhelpful BS, and that if they were your true friend, they would show some understanding and respect.
In some ways, having a child with special needs helps sort out people. You find out what sort of humanity and character people have. Sadly, some people are just into their groove and have been given lives that are pretty unchallenging. They can't be bothered to get out of their own "fun" enough to be kind to a child who is a little different.
I don't see it has a parenting style difference, but a lack of willingness on their part to understand that you got a more complicated child to raise. After all, if you had a child who enjoyed those sorts of outings, you would be fine with them. This doesn't have anything to do with YOU or your STYLE.
I only skimmed over the thread, but i wonder if you couldnt explain it more clearly to them. I think they just do not understand.(they are a little clueless and are still in that 'only child' honeymooon phase of parenting) You could overtly suggest that a playdate in their home would be nice-your son requested it. My kids often make specific requests about where they want a playdate, and i try to honor it. Thats my style of parenting. Actually, i find playdates outside the home somewhat annoying, because the kids go in different directions, and my kids will always find someone to play with anyway, so they dont need an organized playdate. Its kind of a waste of time in my book. An at home playdate is more personal and allows the kids to get to now each other better.
In my book, its the polite thing to do to offer a playdate in your home, when the last time, the other person did it. Take turns, unless there is a specific preference either way that suits both parties.
I would make myself clear to them. I might even ask if there is any reason why an at home playdate is out of the question, and list the advantages for everyone. I went through a phase where i was dying to offer playdates in my home, but it was so small, and wasnt an option.