Saturday, June 25, 2011

Building Friendships

Friendships for my kids haven't come so easy over the years. Their delays put them behind other kids so it's hard to connect and for my son, his mental health issues over the recent years has caused a lot of isolation for him and for all of us in the family.

Proper mental health treatment, stable health and more time because there is less mental/medical intervention needed is hopefully the right mix for the kids few potential friendships to grow. Their circle is small, just a couple of friends each. Expanding that, even with more time and effort, is difficult.

There is a lot of encouraging (on my part with my kids) to get them to reach out, there is a lot of management (me calling or emailing or dialing the phone) and there is still a good chance a friendship won't grow because my kids are behind their peers in development. We're inching forward though, however slowly.

The kids have invisable (to the bystander) disabilities. It is not until you are around them and other kids that you can see the differences, which makes for interesting conversations between me and other parents or with the other kids. I do a lot of, "Well, sweetie, we're all different. We all learn things at different times. We all have different talents!"

It's exhausting, it is. I'm trying to encourage friendships that look like they have some potential; like there is a natural fit between the kids.

I'm wondering how others are navigating this...pushing or letting nature takes it's course? Or a little bit of both?

Julia blogs her family's journey at Kidneys and Eyes and began a social networking site for special needs familieis called Support for Special Needs.com.

4 comments:

  1. I'm not dealing with that yet but I'm sure my turn will come. I'm sorry you're having a difficult time with this. I don't have any solid advice but I did want to drop you a line of support and encouragement. I'm assuming that I will do the same thing as you. Some combination of pushing and not. Good luck!

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  2. I have found that if I let my son know I am there to help him join in or make friends if he wants, he will often come to me and ask for that help. I used to just do it when he was younger but I think often he needs some time hovering on the sidelines before hes ready. Hes 9. Hard to know what to do but try asking them what they need from you to facilitate their friendships - they definately do seem to need the facilitating, sometimes more sometimes less - my son goes through ups and downs - and I cut back on his playdates during the downs just because its so stressful for me supervising and intervening so much to make it successful. Sounds like youre doing a great job for your kids social lives.

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  3. Thanks so much for your support. I hope, I hope...

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  4. I organized a "circle of friends" group for my daughter for a couple of years. I picked kids who had demonstrated kindness to her at school, and told their parents so. A small group at our home, doing a fun activity. Once a month. It helped a lot. Now she is able to navigate play dates on her own. I do have to admit, her version of "friends" is different than mine. She is happy to see a friend once every few months. She doesn't have the "typical" need for intense closeness which a lot of little girls have for their friends, but she's happy. Her friendships don't have to be like my friendships. That's been a lesson for me.

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