I haven't figured this out yet . . .
I hate to be presumptuous, but I think most parents want to be the most influential people in their kids’ lives. While my parents are awesome and I love them, they’re still a very close number two. If you’re a parent and you haven’t realized it, you’re going to have to come to terms with the fact that friends are more influential in your kids’ lives than you are.
The cool thing about toddlers is that they’re at an age when they start to become social beings. They can interact with other kids physically, verbally and emotionally. While it’s great that G gets to interact with kids his age while we’re not around, I sometimes dislike the influences his friends have on him. In fact, I’m convinced that nearly every bad habit G has, was either learned or has been amplified via his schoolmates.
Since exposing G to other kids out there in the world, I’ve become a lot more apprehensive about the types of kids he plays with. Despite my disdain for the neighborhood bully, as I like to call him, G still wants to play with this boy. I don’t know why he wants to befriend this kid, and I should be proud of my son’s continual efforts, but I’d rather he stay away from the kid so he doesn’t pick up the bad behavior. Is that wrong? I know I’m being judgy, but that’s all parents do. We judge. And that kid sucks.
Positive influences on my kids make me happy. I’m more than willing to let my kids run around with friends who, while they may get into some mischief, are generally positive influences and won’t teach my kids things like, violence, insane yelling, or snotty behavior. Today my kids got treated to some positive influences while hanging out with some of our friends’ kids.
Just look at them sitting in their little booth, eating their frozen yogurt nicely at the table. I love my son, but he has the worst table sitting skills because he usually doesn’t just sit and enjoy his food. I was pleasantly surprised by the total lack of ruckus.
The kids wouldn’t do this for me. If I took them both out by myself and asked them to sit nicely at a tiny table by themselves, it wouldn’t happen. Kids aren’t usually trying to impress or copy their parents. I mean, they do try to copy their parents because they pick up on our habits too, but with friends it’s different.
When kids are with their peers, they’re on hyper alert to behave as their friends do. And kids always prefer their friends over their parents. Except for me. I chose evenings with my parents over my friends on several occasions when I was a teenager and I’m still scratching my head on that one. I just chock it up to my parents being really cool to hang out with.
My kids won’t do that because I’m not cool enough to hang out with. Or, at least I hope my kids don’t ever think I’m cooler than their friends because that would mean they have really lame friends.