My son is different
He doesn’t have many friends. We don’t get requests for play dates very often, and that is OK.
I know he is difficult. Of all the people in the world who know this, I do. Nobody needs to remind me or offer up advice that feels more like criticism. I am doing my best, yet it never feels like it is good enough when it fails to help him succeed. When I don’t feel good enough I just cannot be the best mom possible. In turn, I worry that my son will start to think he is not good enough because he sees me struggle (and fail) to successfully handle him. The thing is, he is good enough and I know it. I have let go of needing anyone else to see that. If I am the only one who believes it – that is good enough.
I often feel lonely as a mother, not willing to take him places because it degrades into a tantrum. He deserves to have friends. I believe that in time he will find someone who understands him. Someday, a friend will invite him over (more than once!) and I will hear from the parents that he was well behaved. In the meantime, I fill his days as best I can and shield him from judgements.
It is getting harder and harder to tell myself that he is good enough, as the list of places we are willing to take him slowly shrinks. He has burned bridges by simply being himself. How will he learn to manage relationships and be a good friend? I hope you see that I don’t blame anyone or any other parent. I know this is my problem and that I likely created it.
The burning question is, what can I do to help him?
The first priority is verbally reinforcing his confidence every chance we get. For my family this is easily done because we are communicators: huggers, talkers and cheerleaders. We communicate about things going on in our lives, and find ways to handle a tricky situation together. In our house we hug A LOT because we just can’t ever get enough physical connection that helps build our emotional strength and resilience. At the dinner table we talk until my son asks us to stop ‘arguing’ (any conversation between me and Dad that doesn’t revolve around him). In life, we cheer each other on relentlessly, through the best and worst that is thrown at us.
I focus on strengthening our family dynamic in hopes that it will offset his social shortcomings. I hope that we will be enough to fulfill him and lift him up until one day his friend walks through the door. That day might come sooner than later. The sweet little boy across the street just knocked on our door and asked if his friend can come out to play…