Robyn L. Coburn

It's hard when you really dislike how your child wants to spend their time. Whether it's an aversion to TV, to electronic gaming, to particular friends, to a club or activity - it's really hard.

I've never had problems with my daughter watching tv. Even when there were a couple of shows I didn't care for, I knew that she would grow out of them, and they weren't harming her.

I love that she plays computer games and online games and wants me to play them with her. Even though I find Mario Party a bit slow moving at times - and I am not very good at some of the mini-games - I love that she wants to play with me and I love hearing her reading stuff from the screen.

I love her enthusiasm for dolls, for drawing, for more dolls, for writing stories, for writing stories about her dolls.....her interests and passions have been easy to support.

No - my particular challenge, again, is just the particular friends that she loves and apparently prefers over everyone else in the world, often including her father and I, who just aren't nice kids, living in a rulebound home with other issues that I find hard to deal with. She isn't doing what some of you have reported of your children - noticing the unpleasant part and choosing to back off. She isn't insulating her Self from what ever the stressors are - she is bringing her stress home and acting out with us once she can relax. She isn't picking and choosing - she is always, always the begging supplicant, looking out the window first thing in the morning, watching for them to come home, insisting on going over every time we get home - while they apparently don't particularly care and never seek her out. She's just this convenience for them. If I felt that they truly loved her, maybe it would somewhat better.

So I sympathise with other moms journeying towards unschooling who feel the same anxiety about their little ones sitting in front of the computer again, as I do in the pit of my stomach that is only relieved when I hear Jayn coming up the stairs to home. I sympathise with other moms who are afraid that tv is somehow stronger than their child's mind and heart (it's not stronger than my child's mind or heart but I fear that the insidious influence of these kids somehow is.) I sympathise with moms wanting to erect a big, strong wall around their child's health, even when I know that this won't work nearly as well to protect them as the power of knowledge and self awareness will.

I know from bitter experience that living the lie of silence - not expressing my misgivings about a person - is harmful to our relationship. But now I fear going too far in the opposite direction - expressing my dislike too strongly, my disapproval, my fear, my disappointment, my fear, my annoyance, my fear - will have the same negative effect as with any other issue, like Pam speaking of her disparaging attitude towards her dh's tv a long time ago (and it must have been a long time ago.)

So I have been struggling, and saying to myself over and over, "it's just like tv, it's just her passion" and I make a determined effort to speak brightly and ask how it went, what they played, was it fun. But tonight I am slammed with the realization that it is not "just like" anything else in our life.

Because I love tv. I have no desire for her to "have her fill" and not care for any more. I will be perfectly content if she watches tv avidly and enthusiastically for the rest of her life. Or not.

But these kids....I'm watching, waiting, hoping that she will soon be done with them. That she will see the difference between these low grade friends, and the truly lovely kids who genuinely like her and seek her out, that she plays with in other situations, playdates I strive to have as many of as possible (am I really doing enough? Surely no...) And again it is not that I don't trust's that I don't trust them, or their family, and I haven't the slightest idea what horrible antithetical ideas or philosophies they are insidiously inserting into my dear, pure child's unsullied mind.

And yes, she is a different person when she spends any amount of time with them, especially at their house, than when she doesn't.

I don't think living with the emotional turmoil of a sense of desperation is good for me, for her, for the peace of our household. But short of moving away (and I keep hoping they will) I'm not sure what to tell myself to find acceptance. Any thoughts will be welcomed.

Robyn L. Coburn

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Pamela Sorooshian

Hey - that was Roya. Roya used to be kind of desperate like that - and
it made me so sad and worried about her. She still IS a very very
social person and when she was Jayn's age really wanted a group of
friends to hang out with many hours of each day. At nearly 24 she has
just started to enjoy her alone time more than she had in the past -
but still she almost always wants a friend along, no matter what she's
doing. She's more discriminating about her friends, these days,
though, by the way.

Let me ask you this - how would you respond to the whole situation
if you were absolutely sure that these playtimes/playmates would have
no long-lasting impact? How would you feel different than you do now?
How would you talk about them with Jayn?

Robyn - I really truly don't think hanging out with some problematic
neighbor kids is going to have any long-lasting impact at all on
Jayn. I hung out quite a bit with a kid who ended up in prison for
murder - and he wasn't a nice kid, either, just a neighbor. Lots of
the kids on my street were, now that I look back on it, not all that
nice. It was a regular Peyton Place among the adults (I heard later,
from my mom, after I was grown), so I guess no wonder there was lots
of meanness among the kids. But I was, like Roya, a very very socially
needy kid and I was not at ALL discriminating in my friendships. I
just played with the kids on my street- whichever was available at the

That said, seems to me your best approach is to keep her socially
satisfied by offering far more social time away from the neighbor
kids, even if that means not being home as much as you'd like.

But, it might help you to have more confidence in her if I tell you
that there were times that my girls have had playmates I found sort of
unsavory and that it WILL happen even when they are teens - it is hard
to explain sometimes what attracts our kids to befriend someone whom
we see is, for example, manipulative or demanding. But we can trust
that there is something our kid is getting out of that relationship -
and if we can figure out what it is, we might be able to help them get
what they need in better ways, but we may not be able to figure out
what it is. Can you take a more detached or clinical look at what
she's getting from these friendships and focus more on supporting her
getting that, rather than focusing on your fears that the other
children's negative characteristics are going to contaminate Jayn?


On Nov 24, 2008, at 8:53 PM, Robyn L. Coburn wrote:

> she is always, always the begging supplicant, looking out the
> window first thing in the morning, watching for them to come home,
> insisting on going over every time we get home

Sandra Dodd

-=-But short of moving away (and I keep hoping they will) I'm not
sure what to tell myself to find acceptance. Any thoughts will be

Can you move away? But Jane would still be an only child wherever
you went.

There are tales of only children who grew up in isolation and did
okay as adults, but if she can see other kids and wants to be with
them, it seems cruel not to let her try.

When my kids brought bad attitude and emotion in from their outside
activities, I would tell them they couldn't do that, that if the
friend was going to cause them to be awful to us that they needed to
not hang out with the friend. Maybe you can tell her (maybe you
have) that she needs to figure out a way to be her best and sweetest
self with you and her dad, or she needs not to play with the other kids.

Marty had one friend who was not a great influence, and I wish I had
made less noise about it, because the kids name him immediately when
such topics come up. He grew up better than I had thought he would,
but he still is reckless and lacks some of the kinds of regard for
people and property than I think is important. His mom was
inconsistent and his dad was in prison across the country (I don't
know why and really didn't want to know), but Marty liked him. He
was sometimes in school and sometimes homeschooled, sometimes too
free, sometimes overly constrained.


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Jenny C

Chamille has always seemed to attract and be attracted to kids with
really dysfunctional families. Something that I've seen happen over the
years, is that in many ways, Chamille has shown those kids another way
of being in the world.

Most of the time kids always wanted to be at our house, not theirs, so
it was easier for me. Could you push that more?

Now that Chamille is older, she is less tolerant of bad behavior from
her friends. She's still patient and kind and open to friendship, but
she doesn't let people walk on her or abuse her in any way. A lot of
that is because she's learned, through years of playing with kids like
that, how to mediate and navigate in and around turmoil.

She's really grown a lot just in the last year in regards to how she
analyzes people and their behavior. It started when she was small and
tried to make sense of why so and so tried to steal things or why so and
so treated her stuff badly, or why so and so was mean to the other kid,
etc. We talked, and worked through scenarios of possibilities, actual
and imaginary.

She's always watched people, often, in such a way, where she has no
interest at all in actually talking or interacting with them, just
watch. Kids have always wanted to be around Chamille though, especially
when she was littler, because she had all the good ideas and she was
gracious about sharing everything and being fair.

I used to be concerned with all her friend choices, because mostly they
weren't the "nice" kids. At least one of those kids, we still see, and
she relies heavily on our family to show her kindness because it's the
only time she sees it. I think, she will survive, in part, because of