As much as we want to protect our children, we parents also know the value of helping them develop social bonds with their peers. So as my son grows, it becomes increasingly important to me that he develops friendships with children his own age. My goal isn't just for him to be around kids - important enough on its own - I also want him to find ways to be around the same kids, to form relationships and build a community of friends.
Since he isn't yet in school, and I personally don't know many parents, we've become creative in our efforts toward sociability. We join several free activities throughout the week - a reading group here, a music and dance time there - creating a routine around these little half-hour adventures. We also try to visit the park, the library, and the indoor playground around the same times each week in hopes that we'll see familiar faces. When we do, I try to hang back. I sit at a bench or under a tree and read a book, avoiding my parental inclination to hover and interfere with natural friend-making.
All of this - the time around other children, the specific routine intended for us to run into the same families, and my efforts to avoid interfering - helps him to meet kids and make friends. But it also, unexpectedly, has helped me to form my own community. I resist my tendency to keep to myself, and find that I am developing my own community of friends with the other parents hanging back anxiously as their little ones play.
Liz Moorhead is an English teacher-turned-writer and illustrator. She paints stationery, writes for a top wedding site, and blogs at Happy Sighs between walks to the park with her two boys.