Deadly Ever After

The Writing Adventures of The Undead Duo–Julie Hutchings and Kristen Strassel

Stumbling Along the Parenthood Path

TODAY’S BREW: Is Praying for Booze a flavor?

By Julie

Tonight is my beautiful 6 year old’s school concert. Moms always want to see their kids in things like this, myself included.

But my little boy has come down with recently a social anxiety in events like this that leaves me utterly baffled. Whenever attention is on him in a crowd, he panics. Even the thought of being in the middle of a situation like that sends him into tears. This only started this year, and extends from things like small family parties to meeting Santa at school.

Now bring him to a situation where he won’t be recognized? He’s incredible. Outgoing, a leader, totally confident.

I recognize that this is something everyone goes through, not just children, but how to treat it when it’s someone you would protect with your life is the question that plagues me. While I want him to grow past his fear and know that he’s supported, I don’t want to make him do anything he’s uncomfortable with. I don’t want him to think he can always Just Say No to situations that take him out of his comfort zone, but if this is a real social anxiety disorder, I don’t want to make it worse. I want him to know I will always be there to make sure he feels protected and that I’ll save him if things get to be too much, but when does that point come?

A friend’s 12 year old little girl has been having such trouble with bullies at school that she asked to be homeschooled. My immediate reaction was what a strong, brilliant kid to make such a grownup decision and take the stand that isn’t a stand, if you know what I mean. She didn’t adhere to the rules of standing up for yourself via outsmarting them with your words brand of confrontation.She realized she may not be cut out for public school and forced socialization.

This amazing child opted to say she wasn’t going to put herself in that situation anymore. She would make her own rules.

I want to have a parade for this kid. I think she is an amazing role model.

If my little boy doesn’t want to participate in these relatively small crowd social events, I want him to feel like he has the power to say no. I confess, I don’t like them either! I want to see my kids having a good time and being part of something, but I have a problem in small crowds like that, myself. I can do a presentation for hundreds of people, but when I had to run sales meetings for a group, I stressed over it for weeks. But I know that some things can’t be avoided, no matter how much I don’t want to do them. Sometimes you do have to play by the rules.

Hence, my confusion. I won’t really know until we leave for this little extravaganza tonight what’s going to happen. My friend doesn’t know if this homeschooling thing will work out either. I think there can’t be a solid rule for do it or don’t do it situations like this, there has to be an element of calling your shots in the moment, and knowing that there are choices.

I’ve asked this question before, and I will probably ask it again. Do you deal with this with your kids? Do your own memories of being bullied or being afraid as a child affect your decisions now for your own children? Stumble along this path of parenthood with me, and let me know your thoughts.

 

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2 thoughts on “Stumbling Along the Parenthood Path

  1. It is hard for a 6 year old to be afraid or uncomfortable at a performance AND it is normal. Like all new experiences there is a comfort level that has to be built.

    As for bullies… I hate bullies and wonder why they’re so accepted in so many schools. I just want to smack their parents (who are often bullies too.)

    I’ve made an effort to teach my kids since preschool not to be “bully bait” and that bullies are the ones with the problem. One can be unique/different/individual without being a target – it has to do with confidence. I’ve also encouraged them to be good friends and that friendship means respect and work. Also not be befriend bullies. It seems to have worked. When I was a child it took getting involved in theater and art to help me overcome bullies and shyness. I was good at something and admired for something they (the bullies) couldn’t do.

    I also tell all of the children in my life to stand up for kids they know who are being bullied. It is their job to help each other and support other kids – even if those kids might be a little weird or different. Even if you aren’t bullied it is your responsibility to prevent it from happening to other kids. So far so good. But that said, parenting is never easy, but it is always rewarding (all those hugs I get back.)

  2. This is all smart. We’ve had a bully issue only once at school, and we handled it this way until it was just beyond a 6yo’s capability and responsibility and then we took him out of the class. He could not be more successful in his new class, and he’s able to focus on his schoolwork and having fun, and not how he can avoid the bully. Best choice we made was to give him the tools to handle it as best he could, and then let us help him when he couldn’t do it alone. He’s most certainly the kind of kid that isn’t afraid to be an individual, and the funny thing is, he is not at all bully bait. He’s stunningly beautiful, gifted academically, a leader, and good at physical things. Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do to prevent being on the receiving end, and it’s time to think outside of the solutions we know.

    The anxiety is normal, even if it’s not “normal” in my eyes. If that’s how my kid is, that’s how he is. We’ve decided he doesn’t have to go to the concert tonight because he’s going to dread it, cry in front of a bunch of friends, and in the end not have as much fun as be upset by it. Sometimes it’s better just to avoid the situation altogether, whether it be bullying or forced fun.

    Thanks for your great comment. These kids of yours must be great kids. 🙂
    –Julie

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