Parenting without Social Skills

As a child I would check out 20 books at a time from the library.  I would take those books and disappear into my room over the weekends.

In Jr. High, I would spend that time programming on my 1st home computer.

::fist bumps to Vic20 users::

In high school, I got marginally more social but always felt most myself being by myself.

By the time I started college, I was able to camouflage my lack of social skills through classes and work.

Most importantly, I just didn’t care.

At 41, I still mostly don’t.

But this isn’t about me.  This is about my younger son.  This boy of mine was born to socialize.

He babbled earlier and more than his older brother.  He wanted to interact with people in checkout lines, out walking, anywhere he could.  He hated being alone or feeling alone.  He was born this way.  It is in his soul to be with and part of others.

And his heart, so big.   It’s not worn on his sleeve; it’s worn on him as a whole.

And I just don’t know if I have what it takes to guide him.

Where he comes off friendly, I come off aloof.

When he wants to be part of, I want to be separated from.

He wants to be with, I want to be alone.

We come together when there is pain, sadness.  Pain from his strong emotions coupled with his draw to be part of.  Included.

I love this about him.  But do not understand it.

Are my lack of social skills hurting him?

How do I stay true to myself but support his needs as well?

His pain hurts me.   I try to find the words to comfort him but we speak different languages.

But I’m willing to learn.

12 thoughts on “Parenting without Social Skills

  1. Perhaps look at it this way. By having you as a mother, he will grow up with the understanding that not all people are the way he is. He will accept others – those who are a bit more happy in solitude than he is – without judgement because his mother was that way. I think it is a gift to be able to see into the personalities that are opposite of your own and find the good in them. Maybe this is something that you give to him, as he does to you.

  2. Let him be him. But also let you be you. There have been times where my boys might have been invited to join a team, or to a party, or whatever if I were more social with the moms and dads. Sure, it makes me sad from time to time, but I am a person, too. And in the end, the boys get to make their own friends and their own way.

  3. I have been asking myself this question for the last 18 years. A 2nd grade teacher of my now 17yar old son told me, “You HAVE to arrange play dates! He just wants to be alone and you have to discourage this!” I blinked twice, because he is SO me. I decided I didn’t have to, because he likes h is own company. He is not lonely, he likes himself. Have you ever heard Tim Gunn on interviews? He says he will make himself eat dinner with others, etc., but ultimately, he said what makes him happy is his own company. Tough, honest post, Jen. I don’t know what I would do if I had an opposite child

  4. Nurturing while navigating through our own emotions is most probably one of the biggest parenting challenges…for me, anyway…I’ve grown to accept the fact that this is a life long learning process, my kids and I are sort of winging it, together. (((hugs)))

  5. I may not HAVE kids yet, but I’ve been one so that counts right? :)

    I think the only thing you could do to hurt him would be to try to make him like you. If you can accept his different outlook on life (you have), accept it (you have), and do what you CAN to nurture it (you’re clearly trying), you’ve done a great job. It’s funny, as you describe him, you could be absolutely talking about me, as a kid and now. And your older son is so much like my husband. That variety is something the very thing that makes families work so well, and allows everyone to learn from one another, and where you cannot quite meet in the middle, you simply balance each other out.

    I love the suggestion of Natalie. I had a lot of activities as a kid where I simply got dropped off by a parent who wasn’t interested in all of that, and I got to relish in the social activity and totally be myself. I almost feel like it was better NOT having a parent there, whom I might feel bad about dragging to something that wasn’t their cup of tea. I suspect the same could be true for you guys. But I’m no psychologist so take that for what it’s worth ;)

    You are one AMAZING mom, and a great friend. I have no doubt you’ll end up doing a great job. And look, you have a wealth of brainpower willing to jump on this post and help out as much as we can. ::hugs::

    • That\’s definitely a part of it, I have him involved with any and all sports that he wants. I do that for him but it comes with this social side that\’s hard for me. It\’s funny he\’ll often ask \”Are you going to stay\” because he prefers if I leave, so in a way I think he knows in his soul that it\’s hard for me. Or, maybe I\’m just ruining his street cred.

  6. Great post! As parents it’s super tough to balance our personalities to our children’s. We struggle to understand an introverted child if we are extroverted and vice versa.
    I would bet one of the best things you could do for him is to find organizations, clubs and activities that he can participate in that fill up his social cup but do not require you to be deeply involved as a parent. There are tons of community things that are drop and go where you can bring your kids and then you are free to leave. I can remember early on as a parent finding some relief where I could drop off my little ones and then just go for a cup of coffee ALL ALONE.
    When we feel like our needs are being met as a mom, we are so much more willing to do what our kids need as well. If you crave the alone time, finding some pockets where you can escape to solitude will give you so much more energy to be what you son needs when he is asking for the social interaction.
    Thank you for the reminder to recognize that differences do exist and we need to be aware of them.

  7. I can relate completely…. To him. I am just as you describe him. His heart is bigger than he can handle and his emotions are so strong that they can take over. You cannot relate and because of that you think you don’t know what to say or how to comfort him when he needs it. And speaking from experience, this can sometimes be frustrating for someone like him. BUT, you are comforting him by loving the way he is and cherishing his passion to be joyfully involved and full of life. Just support him and keep him confident. Love his love for others.

    Just my advise, take it or leave it – don’t squash his need for company, don’t try to tell him not to care what others think of him (because you didn’t as a child and still don’t)… because he will always care. He will always want to be involved and accepted and friendly. He will always have a positive outlook and an upbeat sense of humor.

    But with this type of personality, there are consequences. Take into consideration that there will always be others who hate him for it. I have had so many people be unkind toward me simply because I smile too much or laugh too loud or just (and I quote this from an older lady who met me once) “live life with ease and joy”. He wants others around him to join in and share his big heart, not everyone will be receptive. As he matures, he will learn to not take things so personally. Or rather, he will learn to deal with his emotions a bit more and not waste good vibes on those who don’t deserve his warmth.

    • This happened in our house too. When my very very outgoing daughter was born I hoped the hospital wrist band had not been swapped with my real child. She was so outgoing that it didn’t appear that my lack of “social focus” made any difference to her whatsoever. She would try to make a social being out of everyone, including strangers (Don’t know that kid’s name? Just call her “girl.”) I just let her be who she was and everything seemed to be fine…..and then it got even finer. My daughter taught me that I am not really as socially challenged as i thought. My life up to then had left me unsure in social situations, but really I liked people! Over time I became what I call a “learned extrovert” simply by hanging with my girl.

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