My boyfriend’s cousin’s wife has a 6-year-old daughter that just started first grade at a brand new school last week. She has spent her entire life in one particular community and made a majority of her friends within that community. Additionally my boyfriend has a pretty large close-knit family, and as a result she has plenty of cousins her age that she is friends with as well. Because that particular community is in an area where schools aren’t the best, her parents moved her to an area with a better school system. This meant a brand new school, in a brand new area, with little girls that she had never met before. Now she is pretty outgoing, and had no issue making friends at her old school. But on her first day last week, at her new school, she found that a majority of the little girls already had made their friends from kindergarten the year before. Which means cliques were formed, and friendships were already cultivated.
She went around asking each person in her class, “Will you be my friend?”
And every single person said “no”. Except for one little boy, who only said “yes” because he felt bad about everyone telling her no.
She came home sad, and a little surprised that someone as outgoing as herself could not “fit in”, in this new school. When she told her mother what happened, her mom was completely caught off guard. Her mom simply said, “Well you aren’t there for friends, your there for school. So just focus on school.”
Now me, my friend, and my boyfriend analyzed that situation with different perspectives. My friend has kids-all under the age of 4. My boyfriend and I have zero children. My friend happens to be the sister and law of my boyfriend’s cousin’s wife. They are both are young parents–my friend being 24, and her sister-in-law being 27. Both have three children. A part of me wonders if age, lack of experience, and having two other children to worry about, contributed to her responding to her daughter the way she did.
Though my friend, who is even younger, said that if her daughter came home and told her this story she would’ve said, “I’m sorry baby. You have to understand that they don’t know you yet. But I’m sure that you’ll have a better day tomorrow.” In other words she would’ve comforted her child.
My boyfriend’s perspective is, “well what if she doesn’t have a good day tomorrow? What if she doesn’t make friends? At least if she know’s she only there to focus on school and not necessarily on friends then at least she won’t be disappointed that she isn’t making friends.”
I disagreed with him. I feel as if when a child is young, of COURSE they want friends, and of course they’ll feel frustrated, sad, and alone if they have trouble making friends. And if I were a parent I would comfort my child. My advice would be along the lines of me telling my child that I had experienced what they experienced (I did) and how eventually things DO get better. And to just hang in there.
Obviously everyone has a different way of broaching this subject.
As a parent have you ever had this happen to your child? How did you address their concerns? How did you make it all better? And what advice would you have given this little girl if she were your child?