It's hard to know how involved to get with your children's friendships. In fact, let me ask you this - how involved are you in your children's friendships?
I can imagine that as a parent you would get involved if you thought your child was involved in a friendship / relationship that was potentially harmful to them. (I am sure that is still coming my way. Great.) But what about friendships that YOU like but your kids are not so keen on?
Not sure if it is this way with most boys, but Adam has easy friendships. He is friends with just about everyone. He has a few 'preferred' friends that he will choose first if I ask him who he wants to have a play date with, but he will pretty much play with anyone. He has a wide circle of friends. Like sports? You are my friend. Simple.
Kate's friendships are more complicated. She has a smaller group of friends. She has friends who prefer to have a more exclusive relationship with her. She has best friends and people who want to be best friends with her. Unfortunately these aren't always the same people.
There is one girl who I am very fond of and who Kate used to play so nicely with for the last 2 years or so. But lately Kate has said she no longer wants to be friends with this girl. She doesn't dislike the girl, she just doesn't want to be close friends with her. I have asked her repeatedly why, but she wouldn't say. "I don't know! I just don't want to be friends with her anymore". The best that she could come up with was "she asks me too many questions". For a while, I sort of forced her to be friends with this girl by inviting her over to play because (a) she was a really lovely girl and I like her a lot, (b) because I felt sorry for this girl, she really loves Kate (and me) and (c) Kate and her had so much fun together!! When they played together, they would laugh and play for hours. So how could Kate not want to be friends with her? I thought Kate was just being otherwise.
I think I eventually figured out what the problem is. This other little girl is very intense emotionally. She forms intense bonds and relationships. I don't think Kate has the emotional maturity to articulate why she didn't want to be best friends with this girl anymore, but I think Kate felt overwhelmed by the emotional neediness of this other little girl.
My heart goes out to this girl because she is so intense and she loves Kate so. I hate that she gets heart-sore when Kate doesn't want to play with her. I feel such a strong nurturing feeling towards her. I am torn between wanting Kate to be compassionate towards other people's feelings and needs, but also wanting to respect her own boundaries and relationships.
Today Kate said "Mom, I really don't want to be friends with her anymore". And so I said ok, but then I think we should tell her in a way that will not make her heart-sore. (My heart is already sore at how sore her heart will be!! She is going to be so sad :( ). I said that Kate needed to break up with her in a way that wouldn't hurt her too much. So Kate asked me "how do you break up with a friend?" I was sort of stumped and said "I don't know?". How do you break up with a friend?? She asked how I break up with my friends. Again, I wasn't sure! How do I break up with my friends? I don't know! I don't really break up with my friends? If I don't want the friendship to continue, I sort of back off until it weans off and the person either gets the message or loses interest. Which is perhaps a very cowardly way to break up with a friend.
That approach is not going to work with young children who aren't in tune enough to pick up subtle cues, so I suggested that perhaps we write a letter to the friend to explain that the friendship wasn't working.
"Dear friend, I don't think I can be the type of friend that you need and deserve. I think you are a great person and you deserve to find a friend who can be a true best friend to you."
And then we got stuck with how to end it. "Wishing you well"? "All the best"? "Farewell"? Breaking up letters are hard!!
What do you think we should do? Are we (me!) over-thinking this? Am I too involved? What should we / Kate do? How do you break up with a friend when you are 9 years old. (or even when you are older than 9 like me)
PS what makes it even worse is that not only do I really like the little girl, I really like her parents too and I can imagine it will be hard for them as well. Sigh.