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To be terrified I'm going to mess up my son's social life?

(30 Posts)
Whyyounoeatmypie Thu 14-Jun-18 15:43:19

I have some long standing mental health issues and had horrible postnatal depression for a good year. Was raised in a controlling, emotionally abusive environment which made making friends and socialising with peers very hard, and normal socialising wasn't modelled to me by my parents. My husband has a similar background.

We've both been in therapy and working through why we find navigating groups so hard, amongst other things. We both have a small number of very close friends but new groups freak us the hell out. I've recognised that I probably come over a bit cool for school, or intimidating, or just a bit much, because I'm so scared of rejection that I try and perform like I'm interesting (!) which is obviously a bit of a shit plan. He is also a bit loud and performative which he reckons is about keeping people at a distance before they reject him.

We desperately want our son to have a loving, free and easy home where he can have friends over and develop a social life - all the things we missed out on - but neither of us really have a clue how to go about it! I'm especially sad that my PND made me so isolated from the local networks that could have helped out. We're moving to a new city in Sept and want to prioritise getting involved in the community and making sure DS - who will be 2 - gets more opportunities to socialise etc. We're just petrified we're going to cock it up!

Anyone felt similar? Any tips welcome!

Brunsdon1 Thu 14-Jun-18 16:20:04

I wanted to post not because I have any answer but that I feel exactly the same

My DP and the DC father and I are all frankly socially awkward

I try I really do but I'm just one of those people who always is just slightly off kilter and it's made me very uncomfortable in social situations

Oddly professionally all three of us do roles that require socialization and a certain personal style and we are absolutely fine but take us out of those work roles and we struggle

You really are not alone

I get embarrassed because we don't really watch tv (kids do obviously) and we don't really do "normal "stuff and I worry if parents don't like us they won't like our DC playing with their DC

I read loads of judgey stuff on here and I panic thinking no other parent is going to take the chance on my DC

I don't care for me to be honest because I'm happy but it worried me it will affect the DC

I try, I really do but I'm awful at school gate conversations and kids party conversations

Sorry not a hijack just wanted you to know you are not alone!

Davina84 Thu 14-Jun-18 16:28:38

"I get embarrassed because we don't really watch tv (kids do obviously)"
How is that embarrassing?
Haven't lived in a house with a TV for the past 15 years. And why would kids 'obviously' watch TV? Books exist. People who spent hours watching reality TV or whatever's fashionable these days are the ones who should be embarrassed if you ask me...

BertrandRussell Thu 14-Jun-18 16:34:03

When you say you don't do normal stuff-what do you mean?

Brunsdon1 Thu 14-Jun-18 16:34:45

I think it's more that I don't have anything to contribute to conversations about ...say the island thing on at the moment...whuch sets me apart and makes me odd in other mum's eyes (at least in my area)

And my DP and I are a bit odd....its hard to talk about listening to Tchaikovsky on the record player or my irrational excitement over finding a book about Chinese history in a charity shop without sounding like a smug git lol

So I shut up and I worry the DC will pay for it

Sorry OP didn't mean to hijack!

Osirus Thu 14-Jun-18 16:41:35

I’d find you really interesting to talk to because you aren’t like the majority. I love watching the island thing, but I wouldn’t judge anyone who didn’t like the same things as me.

I’m not a social person either, and I also worry about my DD, who’s the same age as your son. I do take her to play groups and she’s happy to play with others and seems confident doing so, which I do hope she holds on to. Your worries are not uncommon.

Osirus Thu 14-Jun-18 16:43:17

Sorry, OP, I got you confused with Brunsdon, but it applies to you both!

treesforesthappy Thu 14-Jun-18 16:55:50

ha, i find it really hard to make friends and hate parties/groups, but it's gotten much easier now DC is at the school nursery. Join the PTA - either as a volunteer for fundraising events or as a rep, it gives you something to talk about people with, and at the school events, you have to go if you offer to do a stall so it's a great commitment device for the shy and awkward types.

Ours are always desperate for help and then you don't have to go to events and worry about nobody talking to you.

Other ideas: cinnamon trust or borrowmydoggy - offer to walk a local dog, and you will naturally meet people as the dog plays and your DS plays.

You could try church if you're not totally against it, ones round here love to see kids.

treesforesthappy Thu 14-Jun-18 16:59:18

i've got no idea what you mean about the island, op, and I've never watched reality TV, hate strictly etc. Join a few kid clubs for people with interests you both share - there's a young archaeology club round us.

You can't fein an interest in reality TV or pop if it's not you, but you can make friends by setting up reciprocal playdates - you only need to be friendly with the other mums, not bosom buddies they invite out to get sloshed with, as such.

ladycarlotta Thu 14-Jun-18 17:00:33

oh, @Brunsdon1, you sound very interesting! I think you just need to find new people. It is nobody's fault that their likes are not your likes, it does not make anybody less-than: this world takes all sorts, and your sort are definitely out there.

Again I have little advice, but I also find that I am kind of out of step with people, and not always great at socialising (sometimes I have wondered if I am a bit ASD) - I also have no interest in the island thing, and I totally get you that current TV at least gives you stuff to talk about. The one thing I have started to feel confident enough to establish is that there are some people I feel more out of place with than others. And it's not good for me to keep beating myself up about not fitting in when a much healthier thing would be to discover people I do fit in with. This is tricky, especially as an adult, and I feel fortunate that I've had a career change/house move that makes it a bit easier to meet new people who find me intelligible and likeable, rather than a weirdo.

OP, I can't contribute much, but I think you guys are brave and honest for trying to tackle this head-on. I'm glad you've had counselling and I'm glad you have the opportunity of a fresh start to make changes. I wish you luck. I think the trick is to find the right people, I really do.

RatherBeRiding Thu 14-Jun-18 17:01:00

I really wouldn't worry! You are aware that you find socialising difficult, and are aware that you might come across as a bit "different", and that's a good thing.

I think you'll find that your child will make his own social connections very easily once he's at a playgroup, or nursery, or school. Children do not depend on their parents for their social life - which is just as well because I'm the most antisocial person going but my DC are the exact opposite and made lots of friends and had very active social lives all through their childhood years.

Find out where your local play groups are, and just go - your child will toddle off and play, and if you smile and exchange pleasantries with the other parents then you will be well on your way to establishing some valuable social connections.

agnurse Thu 14-Jun-18 17:05:00

Hubby and I are both introverts and have an extremely small circle of friends. (We only have one couple whom we see somewhat regularly and that's about it.) We're also not involved in the school parents' council. It has certainly not stopped our 13-year-old daughter from making friends. She has a few friends who periodically come to our home to visit with her.

I think, TBH, you're giving this too much headspace. Some people are natural introverts. Some are natural extroverts. You might just be an introvert. There's nothing wrong with that.

agnurse Thu 14-Jun-18 17:05:56

You might also consider getting your son involved in local after-school programs. Boy Scouts would be one example, but there might also be sports teams or other clubs he might like to join. This would allow him to interact with other children.

Lalliella Thu 14-Jun-18 17:07:49

OP and PPs on this page, you all sound lovely! I would like to be your friend. The island thing is a load of old rubbish, don’t worry about not being into that!

Just don’t try too hard, and like a PP said - join groups, volunteer and help out. Have conversations about DCs, all parents love to talk about their little darlings. Take an interest, ask questions (not too many), try and relax (hard I know!)

Lalliella Thu 14-Jun-18 17:08:31

Oh and put yourself out there! Face your fear!

treesforesthappy Thu 14-Jun-18 17:10:30

agree with agnurse that it's a good idea for DS to have different groups of friends, eg scouts and school, although expect there will be some overlap.

treesforesthappy Thu 14-Jun-18 17:11:52

as I said, I do the school volunteering because it helps me deal with my fears to have a task to do at school events, appreciate it's not for everyone!

Tambien Thu 14-Jun-18 17:17:32

My two pence worth.
Your ds is and will be aperson of his own. Support him making friends by inviting children he enjoys spending time with, let him have sleepovers (Obvioulsy when he is older!). But don’t expect that for him to have a great social life you need to have a great social life too!

For all you know, your dc might be a real introvert that doesn’t want to have lots of friends but prefers to have a few selected but very good friends instead (a bit like you actually).

I am an extrovert, I thrive on meeting people. My two dcs are introverts and don’t want friends at home all the time. Let your child guide you instead.

Benandhollysmum Thu 14-Jun-18 17:27:26

Your sons only 2 plenty time to worry when he’s older. JUst relax and go on common sense when he gets need to go overboard otherwise rather than the laid back mum and dad you come over as embarrassing, well to your kids anyway. There isn’t a right or wrong way to bring kids up, just need good old common sense and a lot of patience

watchingwithinterest Thu 14-Jun-18 17:32:16

Let your son decide how he wants his social life to be, and go from there. I have one introverted and one extroverted child and they both have completely different ideas of fun.

As long as your home is welcoming, you are kind to your children's friends and he sees you interacting with your close knit friends I don't really know what more can be expected of you.

Being an introvert is not contagious, he can't catch it you know. He will be his own person (minus the damage hopefully) and forcing friendships and social occasions on him won't end well.

You might know you didn't have the best upbringing but I am willing to guess anyone else would have a clue. Relax and follow his lead.

watchingwithinterest Thu 14-Jun-18 17:34:01

Just wanted to say there is nothing wrong with being an introvert - and some of my best friends are introverts and are the most wonderful company and loyal friends. It is not an indication of success or happiness (no matter how many manuals from the US tell us otherwise!)

watchingwithinterest Thu 14-Jun-18 17:35:04

Would not have a clue. My I am doing well tonight.

scottishclive Thu 14-Jun-18 17:39:03

When / if your child goes to nursery and school they will spend most of their time with their peers without parents to direct social interactions.

So their own personality will come out. One thing we found was that our DC was initially quite shy but seemed to grow of it that. Play-dates as well as school helped, so that might be something you want to endure!

cestlavielife Thu 14-Jun-18 17:55:14

He is only 2
Don't worry
Send him to nursery then school. Take him to all the parties.
Sign him up for something like drama out of school when he is old enough to give him confidence. Or sports or music whichever he may like.

Sharpandshineyteeth Thu 14-Jun-18 17:56:10

My umm hardly left the house when I was younger and only had friends to use them.

I made friends in school and kept those friends. I ha e also made more throughout life. I get on fine socially, even though it was never modelled to me by my parents

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