What Kids Need Part 1: Others

Zoes

We can’t be all things for each other. We just can’t. We need other people – other people to like and even other people to be annoyed with.

A few days ago, I found myself sitting in our closet crying onto my phone while I played Sudoku. My husband had just said, “Don’t come out. Stay in here till they’re down for bed. I got this.” 

Maybe you’ve been there, too. First, you ask a child to do something – ideally, this thing is expected and part of a routine. Second, they don’t do that thing despite your best efforts. And third, they yell at you for one of the following reasons: a) You held them accountable; b) You provided a natural consequence; c) You took a break from the frustrating situation…for example, to hide in your closet and cry alone. 

I’ve always thought of myself as a logical person. The rules of logic make sense to me. They fit my brain. I’ve thought of logic as a skill or asset, one of the strengths I use personally and professionally. Yet, lately, I’ve found it’s also a liability. For me, logic leads to shoulds. And as I learned in grad school, “should-ing” on yourself is never helpful. 

This should work. This should not happen. She should not be acting like this. This situation doesn’t make sense, but it SHOULD. Arghhhh!! 

I think part of the problem is that we cannot be all things to all people. I cannot be all things to all people. I cannot be all things to my daughter. I just can’t. I feel like I should be able to because I love her so much and know her so well and I want to be…but I can’t. 

It can’t and won’t go well all the time. I can’t exactly tell you why – c’mon logic! – but when I calmed down from my closet/Sudoku episode, I felt it in my soul. She needs more people. She needs to be around more people. 

We are social – even you introverts out there. We need others, we need community, and we need connections. 

Heck, we even benefit from un-fun others, tricky communities, and difficult connections. (*Disclaimer, some are legitimately harmful – not advocating for those.) 

Yet, my daughter benefits from “regular tricky” interactions, too. That’s how she learns. That’s how she chooses friends. And that’s how she becomes a better human to be around. 

As a parent, I cannot wait for my daughter to attend camp this summer, to be part of a group and to build relationships with new people. She needs them, and it will be good for her and good for us. 

After being in our house for the majority of the last year, she will have 11 other people to negotiate with and to enjoy. Instead of being the little sister in the family, she’ll be one of the girls at camp. Rather than being dismissed sometimes by older siblings and overworked parents, she’ll be able to decide when to lead or follow, when to argue or let it go. 

It’s going to be a beautiful thing to witness, not always easy but so worth it. Watching her be with people, seeing new friendships emerge, sharing her love and angst with the world. I can’t wait.

 

Dr. Kelly Jones
Executive Director, Outpost Summer Camps
“We don’t have to do all of it alone. We were never meant to.” Brené Brown

(This is part one of a three-part series about what kids need most this summer.)

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