See Saw Margery Daw – The Ups and Downs Of Children’s Friendships

Bonus Boy has had a very close relationship with one particular friend since before he was born. His Mum and I met at ante-natal yoga classes so our boys were bumps together, they were born within two weeks of each other and have played with each other virtually every week ever since. However, it has lately become apparent that my boy has strayed. He is sharing his affections. He is in love. With a girl!

I first found out that something was ‘going on’ from Bonus Boy himself. He stopped talking about A on the way home from nursery and started talking about B instead. He told me he was in love with her, that he was ‘on her team’ that she was his ‘Supergirl’.

I had a little think (I have learned that this is a good thing to do rather than blurting out my first thoughts every time!) and then told him that I was delighted he had found a new special friend but that I hoped he wasn’t leaving A out; that he wasn’t being unkind.

He had a bit of a think (wiser than his years would suggest) and said ‘I know Mummy, I can share myself. I can play with A and B.’ Later on he started talking about slicing himself down the middle and sharing himself out in little pieces but I told him that I didn’t think that would be necessary.

It is a complicated thing this friendship lark and there is only so much interfering we can do as parents. In the end, they have to sort themselves out, find their own level, fight their own fights. But it is very hard to keep your nose out, to keep your mouth shut. I am very fond of Bonus Boy’s Best Friend and I couldn’t bear to see him being sad. I kept mentioning it to my boy ‘You’re not being unkind are you?’ and ‘You won’t leave A out will you?’ until I could hear the teenager in his voice ‘Mu-um, I know!’ and I zipped my lip.

They did, of course, sort it out and re-establish their equilibrium. They love being together and doing ‘boy stuff’.

Next week they start big school together and there will undoubtedly be more friendship issues on both sides. I will keep my lip zipped. I will not nag. I will encourage kindness and thoughtfulness. This is my pledge! Fundamentally, they like each other…a lot, and that will carry them through!

So, are you a parent who can’t help getting involved? Have you sorted it out or made it worse? Or do you stand back and let them sort themselves out and does it always work?


Filed under Children's Development, Parenting, Relationships

59 responses to “See Saw Margery Daw – The Ups and Downs Of Children’s Friendships

  1. I try to stay out. Monkey tells me occasionally that he’s not friends with someone any more and I let it wash over me. However, he did tell me that one boy kept pushing him over (largely through being over-boisterous) so I told him to stay away from him. Thankfully, he’s not been really close to him ever and has either done that of his own accord or heeded my advice. Moot point now as I’ve heard the child has moved away over the summer holidays unexpectedly.

    • That’s covenient! I think Bonus Boy is used to dealing with the ups and downs because he has so many siblings and there is always someone else to play with. I’m hoping the hurly burly of family life will leave him well equipped to cope with the wider world as he steps out into it next week!🙂

  2. As usual a thoughful post Chris.
    It is so difficult because as a parent you don’t want your xchild to be the one that is left out or unhappy. However, building relationships is what we humans do & we can only give our littles the tools & let them find out themselves. Our job is there to pick up any pieces that may fall!

    • Thanks Julia. Each one of my children is different and the friendship issues are different, I have to adjust my response to suit each and every time! I do a lot of picking up of little pieces of fragile ego!

  3. “I know Mummy, I can share myself.” — LOVE IT!

    Very wise youngin! I still need to learn to share my self on a regular basis — especially when I’m in a dating relationship.


  4. My daughters go through this rotation of ‘best friends.’ One day it’s soandso the next it’s someone else. I’ve learned to quit feeling sorry for the slighted best friend, as I know in week or so they will be best buds again. I guess it’s the age.

  5. Boyo’s friendships are so far very straightforward – he hold no grudge, he rubs along well with people, arguments are quickly over and friendship resumes.

    Girly on the other hand – well girls are horrid – just horrid – how at seven they are so mean to each other and bitchy is beyond me & yes sometimes it breaks my heart

    • I know! Boys are so much more forgiving, girls brood and it can get quite nasty. My daughter is pretty good so far at staying out of it, she had her fingers burned a couple of times and decided it wasn’t worth it – I hope she hangs on to that attitude!

  6. I always tried to stay out of it. Until this year when my daughter’s friends kicked her out of the pack and preceded to bully her. She was teased, had things thrown at her, and was ostracized by the whole second grade. She still won’t talk about it, but we are changing schools and I am ridiculously involved. You are a good mom to encourage kindness and good friendships. My daughter could have used a friend like your son.

    • Oh bless her and bless you. I am so sorry, how awful that you felt you had to move her. How did the school deal with it? Did they? I really hope things are better for her in her new school. x

  7. Sunflowerdiva

    Little kids are so smart and so funny. They live in the moment. It makes we want to be little again….

  8. This is something that everyone can keep in mind, young and old…it would go a long way.
    I love hearing it from the little peoples point of view and the things they come up with are priceless. love this post, thanks for sharing!

  9. When my son started school he was very quiet and took a little time to make friends. Now, much to my wife’s horror, gangs of kids descend upon our house uninvited on an almost daily level to play with him. I was pleased that he’d made so many friends until he told me that he didn’t really like them and prefer it if they didn’t come! I’ve no idea how to deal with that little bombshell. I guess we’ll both just stand back and see what happens. It’s tough being a parent, but it must be tougher being a kid.

    • Oh goodness, that’s tough! Does he want you to help him to sort it out? Perhaps he could just ‘not be there’ when they call? What a horrible pressure for him, I do hope you manage to resolve it. It is so tough being a kid!

  10. Stay out of it. Let him manage his own friendships — as well as anything else he can in his own life.

    When you give him the opportunity to make his own decisions and live with the consequences, he will learn so much more.

    He will learn to make good decisions when he becomes a teenager and is 60 miles away going 60 miles an hour…

    trust me, I’ve been there! You WANT THEM to make good decisions, so start giving them opportunities when they’re young, where the consequences are small.

  11. How sweet. Young ones are wise! He can share himself!

  12. Me: two boys. one girl. The boys had a grand total of one type of friendship throughout their childhood (“I like him/her. He/she is my friend”). My daughter had countless variations of friendship. Sometimes, someone would ask me, “Is your daughter friends with So-and-so?” and I’d answer, “Depends on what time it is.”

  13. I try and stay out of everything – I think unless there’s bullying going on that’s the way it should be really.

    I’ve made sure that both of mine know how important it is to be kind to others and I’m really proud of the way they are with their friends – having said that my 7 y/o is very stubborn so when she does fall out with someone she doesn’t like to be the first one to make a move to make friends (stubborn – who said she takes after me lol).

    I think girls fight and argue way more than boys!

  14. oh this is very interesting. I’m not sure what I am yet, but my boy (4, about to start school) is very keen on our neighbours’ girl (known her since birth) but she is less keen on him. NOthing unkind about it, it’s just the way it is. He doesn’t seem to mind too much, and has transferred his affections to another girl. But I do idly worry about this kind of stuff, knowing there is precious little I can do to influence such situations anyway.

    Really thoughtful post, thanks for sharing. x

  15. This year my youngest starts kindergarten. His best friend is in the other class because the pre-k teachers notice the rely too much on each other. My guy has speech issues and his buddy plays interpreter. They still play hard with each other when at home but this is going to be challenging for my guy in the class room.

  16. Red Ted Art

    Great post! Such a tricky one… I am yet to face this situation as Red Ted gets older. I can see how hard it will be not to interfere. I guess that is one of the big life lessons of being a parents. Yikes. I like being in control!!

    When it comes to toddler fights, I do try and let them sort it themselves, unless it getting out of hand or one of the chilren is clearly getting distressed. Very hard though sometimes!


    • I have to leave the room when my lot start. I do listen in to check it’s not getting out of hand as my 14 year old is far more in control of the situation than his 10 year old sister and I do try to encourage him to play fair rather than pulling rank! Usually, however, I just leave them to it totally because it is good for her to practice arguing with a man!

  17. I fall somewhere in the middle. I stand back and let them sort it out themselves while encouraging my son to be thoughtful and kind to ALL his friends. It took me a while to learn how to stand back though! Jen

  18. sayitinasong

    Your son is very lucky to have such a good friend from such an early age. And I would not worry too much- it is absolutely natuiral to go through phases where they don’t interact that much- or even seem to gorw their separte ways when older- I met my best friend when we were both 4 years old… and now, both in our 40s… here we still are- on 2 different continents but friends still the same…

  19. Wow what a lucky boy to have a great friend from birth and a really sensible Mummy! My mum was like you and you have really reminded me of her in this post. My BF has been my BF since we were four, we are now hitting 30! She is my Baba’s godmummy and we have been through a lot together, secrets, ops and all sorts but also through lots and lots of rows. We are very different and everytime we rowed my mum would try not to get involved but would say something very wise and clever that would make me think about what had happened. I hope that I can be as clever as that with Baba…

  20. Growing up I had lots of friend battles! I’m not a parent but I think my Mom did a fantastic job keeping the role of the outsider looking in.

    She always put in her 2 cents when there were tiffs (which of course being a little kid you ignore) and they always seemed to be right and the perfect way to resolve the problems🙂

    I can’t say that my closes friends who I hung out with every single day when I was little are my BFF’s still, but that’s just a matter of growing up.

    As long as you keep that outsider looking in p.o.v, I think everything will work its course🙂 And if they are meant to be buds for all of eternity, those tiffs will get sorted out and they will work it out…eventually…on their own🙂

  21. This was so thoughtful and sweet. My daughter is at the beginning stages of this whole “friendship thing,” and i appreciate the thoughts of women who’ve been there!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it! This is about my 4th child so it is easier to appear wise and sensible this time round! However they are all very different so they each take a whole new set of skills…exhausting!

  22. I bet that is hard, not getting involved. I wish you all the best with your young ones this school year.

  23. bluesnake2009

    I really like this blog

  24. herby

    Aaw that brought little tears of emotion to my eyes. What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.

    And congrats on being freshly pressed🙂

  25. So far I’ve been able to choose my sons friends based on which parents I like the best. Roll on school where hell be forever making friend with Wayne and waynettas brood. Oh joy.


  26. Nick

    These two kids are cute, and very beautiful.

  27. I would stay out of it. Too many mothers get too involved and try to organise friendships but this can complicate things for their own children and for others. By the time they are at secondary school they should be able to make their own friendships. I have seen some mothers who continue to try and force friendships but it doesnt work and if anything it means those kids fail to find others who might be more compatible. However there is no harm in pointing out that you should be kind. I also say to boys that boys are better playing in a gang or all playing football together. There is no point in making enemies or leaving people out. I would like to thing girls could be like that too but from what I’ve seen most arent. I think I probably was a bit like that though myself.
    I hope your boy enjoys big school though ! Good Luck ! And also say they are allowed to defend themselves ! Mine wouldnt have minded hitting some violent kids back at all but were worried the teachers would then sit them in the library as a punishment. I said that maybe that wouldnt be too bad and I didnt mind them defending !! Also its surprising how many mothers and maybe fathers dont say to their boys how dangerous it is to hit others of for example head, face, private parts etc, stomach. It can be bad ! So send them to karate so they can defend themselves !

  28. I love that you’re reminding him not to be “unkind.” Because all friendship and relationships go through lulls, but it’s when someone is unkind that the rubber for “bouncing back” gets dry and crack and crumbles. There are lessons in every moment. Sounds like you’re quite the mom for seizing and making the most out of them! 🙂 By the way, congrats on being FP’d!

  29. I have yet to encounter this, so will be having a good read of all those comments.

  30. childrens friendship is really full of ups and downs…i have had my share too…and i am really glad my parents never interfered…it helps you prepare for bigger challenges in life ahead!

  31. ryoko861

    Let it go, but keep an eye out. And it doesn’t end either. I have a 19 and 22 year old. And we’re STILL giving them advice on friends! We advise and let them decide. It’s the only way they learn. When they fall, pick them up, brush them off and kick ’em back out there!!

  32. J

    I dont get involved because my daughter would have my life like a soap opera lol. I think its best not to, kids are so funny they will be friends the next day. Plus my daughter was a bit of a taddle tail so she was losing friends left and right, then she would say sorry and they would put her on probation:)

  33. Pingback: Bonus Boy’s Big Day « Thinly Spread

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