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Do you feel you have to socialise with other parents for your children to have a good social life at school?

(32 Posts)
BottySpottom Thu 02-Jul-09 23:20:22

Following on from a thread on here the other day (tips for Reception starters), I was surprised to see someone write that you should make a big effort with other parents as your child's social life will depend on them for many years.

Do you really feel this is the case? Part of me thinks that they will befriend who they want - another tiny part thinks that maybe if they are thrown together with other children at week-ends etc, they will get on with those children better.

notnowbernard Thu 02-Jul-09 23:25:46

DD1 is at end of Reception year

AFAIK (and according to her teacher) she is not part of a small group of friends, but is one that tends to play with anyone who is around... she doesn't name specific people again and again to me, but tends to talk about lots of the class

Personally, I'm glad she's like this (they're only 5, aren't they? Plenty of time to develop friendships with significant others)

So I see no point in trying to 'engineer' friendships. I'm sort of relying on her to tell me that she wants so-and-so to come to tea or whatever

OTOH I have made friends with a couple of the Mums in DD's class... incidentally DD does not seem particularly close to their children

OurLadyOfPerpetualSupper Thu 02-Jul-09 23:33:58

I can't stand that social engineering thing - mums clinging to each other in the playground and expecting their kids to be friends exclusively with their friends' kids iyswim.

That's not to say you shouldn't be polite and friendly, but as NNB said, your friends' children aren't necessarily the ones your own will want to be friends with.

BottySpottom Thu 02-Jul-09 23:40:03

In DC1's year there were mothers who did literally that - clung to each other, stood in a really strange circle so that no-one else could enter the group, and arranged endless inter-circle play dates shock

notnowbernard Thu 02-Jul-09 23:40:58

IME it has felt a bit forced at times with some of the Mums in DD's class (particularly those with DDs)

I see them arranging 'playdates' on an almost weekly basis. I know that some have been on sleepovers shock

I sort of assumed that they must have known each other at nursery or whatever, but this isn't the case apparently

I did sort of wonder at first if I should make a bit of an effort but it seems to be happening naturally for dd (she's gone to lots of parties and back for tea a couple of times) and seems completely happy at school so I'm carriying on with my slack relaxed attitude

PheasantPlucker Thu 02-Jul-09 23:43:23

No! Really not my thing at all, and dd2 seems happy heading towards reception with lots of nursery friends.

There are a couple of mums I do really like, but I have no plans to engineer dd2's friendships.

epithet Thu 02-Jul-09 23:44:03

No, I don't like that. I've made a point of being friendly and smalltalky with everyone, but not over-friendly/needy. Dd1 has just finished Reception in a tight triangular friendship group - neither of the other girls were children she mentioned at all in the first term. By great good luck, they both have lovely mums and we are now organising summer holiday meet-ups.

I think it's best to be generally friendly and go with your dc's flow smile.

notnowbernard Thu 02-Jul-09 23:46:45

Agree it is good to do the small-talk and smile thing though

It's helped kill a few afternoons... ie, trotting off to the park after school

Clary Fri 03-Jul-09 00:25:03

well botty I posted that on the reception thread and what I meant was that you will all be standing in the same place every afternoon at 3.25pm for the next 7 might as well find out a few names and have a chat lol.

Actually my pals who are mums at school are not really or certainly not exclusively parents of my DCs' pals. It doesn't necessarily follow. And in fact just cause I might go for a drink with mum, I don't expect a party invite for DD. It's not a problem.

sunnydelight Fri 03-Jul-09 06:23:25

I'm with you Clary. DD started kindy (reception) this year in a school where, if all goes to plan, she will stay for the next 13 years! I reckon I'll be seeing the same people for a LONG time so it's nice to be friendly. That doesn't mean the school parents are my new best mates or that I will be engineering playdates - we're all so scattered very few people do after school playdates anyway, saving getting together for the holidays.

I made some great friends when DS1 started reception, some of whom I am still in touch with 11 years later (and we now live on the other side of the world). If the only thing you have in common is your kids you will never be more than casual aquaintances but sometimes you "click" with someone and a real friendship is formed.

ABetaDad Fri 03-Jul-09 07:25:39

TBH - we did it the other way round.

We have never made any effort to be friends with other parents, not antisocial but not makng a special effort. After all, they are only a random group of people who happen to send their children to the same school as your child(ren).

However, what we do is let our children naturally find their own friends then just become acquaintences with their parents (e.g birthday parties). We also naturally get to know people who live nearby as we live right next to the school. What happens is we eventually find a few people we really like and get on with as proper friends and are on nodding terms with most others.

I don't think you can force friendship to happen.

RealityIsMyOnlyDelusion Fri 03-Jul-09 07:34:10

Message withdrawn

Overmydeadbody Fri 03-Jul-09 07:36:49

I don't feel I have to make a big effort for the sake of DS's social life, but I have got to know a number of parents as it makes the whole school drop off and pick-up a lot more pleasant and actually other mums make quite good friends.

I have make friends with some mums even though our children don't really play together, and DS has made some friends who's mums and I have never got past a "hello" at the school gates and he still gets invited to their houses and I invite their childrne to mine.

No point forcing or faking friendships, your children will still get invites regardless of this, if they have friends.

TEJQ Fri 03-Jul-09 07:38:24

Having had a total of three kids at primary school continuously over the last 16 years I'd say you HAVE to make an effort to talk to other mums, mix with them, go for and invite back for coffee, lunch, playdates etc. if you want your child to have a very active school social life.

Much depends on the mums, whether you like it or not, even if little Jonny likes your little Ben, if Jonny's mum isn't keen on either of you then the playdate invites will fizzle out after a while.

Its all pretty OK in YR and Y1 and for most of Y2, kids are pretty non-selective of friends and quite open to playing with all and sundry. By late Y2/early Y3 they do start to become selective about friends and who is good to be friendly with, and they will pick up on nuances from their parents about who is a 'nice' child to play with and invite home. If your child has some wacky behaviours, other children will rapidly get the message from their parents that s/he is not a nice child to play with and one to avoid.

Girls pair up often with that special 'best friend' by about age 7, whereas boys don't go for the 'best friend' thing quite so much and have friendship clusters, and in my experience ability at sport, preferably football is one of the useful things for them to have by around age 8 to get invited into playground kickabouts. As is parents getting involved at this age with local children's sports teams, being a helper or coach. If your child has no ball skills then be aware that just that may exclude them from inclusion the 'popular' group in junior school.

My experience is based on a small primary school in a pretty middle class area with a high proportion of SAHM's, the rest mostly working profs like teachers, nurses etc. And for some of these people they do actively involve themselves in directing their kids to mix with certain groups of kids, and the parents themselves mix quite closely; the walking mums (do their mile circuit after drop off), the lunching mums, the mums who are involved with the PTA, the mums who are Friday evening social gatherers and invite each other to dinner etc. They exist, and if you want to be part of it, effort in YR and Y1 is essential; they won't come up to you in the playground and invite you to mix with them, you need to make the effort for quite a while to be accepted into the group.

Podrick Fri 03-Jul-09 08:06:52

I think it is helpful for your child if you are involved in school life - and being friends with other parents is one way to do that.

I have made some lovely friends, mostly with other parents of only children. My daughter's closest friendships are with other children but I would still recommend making friends with adults associated with your child's school.

Oblomov Fri 03-Jul-09 09:54:18

I agree with most things that people have posted. You do need to make an effort.
And whatever you do, don't fall out with anyone. I did. And I am saddened to think that I have affected my sons social life with people that he is going to be at school with for years and years.

CMOTdibbler Fri 03-Jul-09 09:58:00

My DS is not going to have a good social life then, since he'll be in wrap around care at school, and I'll never see any parents.

Oh well, another thing to feel guilty about

TEJQ Fri 03-Jul-09 10:17:32

CMOT, it can be done as a working parent, it just means you need to make more effort to do things like join the PTA, go to quiz nights, race nights, bring-a-dish nights, summer BBQ or offer to help out at the Christmas/summer fayres or man the refreshment stall at the kids discos.

When you get odd days off work make the effort to organise a playdate and invite DS's friend home for tea, or occasionally sacrifice a Saturday morning for a playdate.

cat64 Fri 03-Jul-09 10:23:12

Message withdrawn

Oblomov Fri 03-Jul-09 10:23:17

Depends what the ratio is , at your school. I was totally shocked, when ds1 started Reception in Sept last year, and still am, at the ratio at our school. All SAHM's. One nanny. A few of us work p/t. I am sure this is not normal.
But I have pleasant chit chat. Often with mums that ds is not that friendly with. And I have made a REAL friend. so that's nice.
This ALL by-passes ds. He is fine. Totally fine.

Oblomov Fri 03-Jul-09 10:25:22

Agree with cat. PTA stuff is not necessary. None of the reception mums are involved in ours, so wat does that tell you.
We all get on fine.

Acinonyx Fri 03-Jul-09 10:30:39

We are relitively new here and dd is at preschool and reception in Sep. I have tried being friendly with the parents of dd's playmates but feel rebuffed. I'm not suggesting we go camping together - just trying to be friendly for dd's sake but these other dcs all have older sibs and I think the parents are done with all that.

I'm not shy and generally make friends fairly easily but I am finding this school gate stuff really hard going.

I wil also be working PT and I'm thinking about the PTA. It really doesn't feel like 'me' though!

stealthsquiggle Fri 03-Jul-09 10:34:57

Just answering the OP - I think the advice was to be nice to the other parents at school. I honestly don't think you need to socialise with them outside school unless you happen to want to - just show yourself to be a normal friendly human being. If you are a SAHM it might be wise to accept/issue a few invites to coffee/whatever, but if you are a WOHM you will be judged excused grin.

cat64 Fri 03-Jul-09 10:39:24

Message withdrawn

TEJQ Fri 03-Jul-09 10:43:34

There's a difference between 'being friends' and 'being friendly'.

You do need to 'be friendly' and make SOME effort as Cat64 obviously does, and that I have to say has always been my limit, i.e. on first name terms, have phone number to check up where kids are, pass the time of day, discuss odd issues etc going on at school, what's going on in people's families/home life, chat and walk alongside to school etc. But not especially going out of my way to become bosom buddies with people. In infants most folk are friendly with everyone else.

To 'be friends with' requires a bit more than that, and I've generally not bothered to go to that stage - dinner parties, going out together as couples/groups, making plans to do things together as families etc. Some people do want this, and by juniors parents and child friendship groups are a bit more compartmentalised. If you want this level of involvement with other parents and children you do need to make an effort to cultivate it IMHO - I don't want it, so have never gone beyond the 'being friendly' bit. Some parents get upset if they aren't invited into the school gate circles, but often you need to make an effort to be part of that group if that's what you want.

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