School Age Issues
Read about being a mother of 12 as our resident 'Supermom' shares her wise parenting advice.
It starts as young as the first grade. You see your child weighing your behavior during a playdate, wondering if his friend thinks you're too weird. You start to see yourself reflected through the eyes of your child's playmates and find yourself tailoring your conduct as though for a more sedate audience. You're afraid to embarrass your child.
Your usual silly self
It used to be that pride shone in your child's eyes as you acted your usual silly self at the playground, the center of attention, the playground mom. Now you find your child shrinking at even the most inconsequential exchange between you and his friends. You could be driving your kids to the local community center pool. You venture to make conversation with your child's friend, since the silence is palpable. You toss off a flippant, "How are your mom and dad?", and looking through the rear view mirror find your child trying to disappear into or perhaps unite with the upholstery of the backseat of your car.
Be sensitive to his concerns
I'm no stranger to this phenomenon, since I am a mother to 12 children. I try to be sensitive to my child and his concerns about how I am viewed in the eyes of his peers, but I can't let it rule my life. This is my child's learning experience, not my own. He worries that what he finds special about you will be found wanting in the eyes of his friends. If I can remember to see things in this light, it's easier to take, because this is, in reality, a compliment. Your child sees you as unique. However, he lacks self-confidence and is still feeling his way around societal expectations. His concern is that others will read unique as unusual. The unique or unusual are abhorrent to school aged kids and teens.
It's much worse if you're in the public eye. Perhaps you are a teacher or a columnist for your local newspaper. Your child can't hide you or fade you into the woodwork. Compounding the problem is that other kids are looking for your child's Achilles' heel. They know that teasing him about you is the best way to rile him up, and getting a reaction is what they desire most in a relationship.
The upshot? Be sensitive and keep quiet wherever possible, but you don't have to make dramatic lifestyle changes just to smooth your child's way. It's all a learning process.