Friend, buddies and influences

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Much as I tried H and N were never the perfectly behaved children I would have liked them to be. They had their good moments and their bad. They could embarrass me thoroughly in public making me question my upbringing and then do something so sweet, so thoughtful, so completely unselfish that my heart would fill with love and pride. Their being Geminis might have something to do with it!
However hard these ups and downs might have been, they taught me one thing – that there were no really ‘bad’ kids. Having seen so many shades of my own I believed firmly that all kids had bits of good and bad in them.
And so when they were younger I encouraged them to include all other kids around them when they played. The quiet ones, the shy ones, the naughty and boisterous, the spoilt and the generous ones – all of them. Despite their quirks and shortcomings they all stuck together. Also, once I got to know them I learnt to like them all.
It helped that we were a bunch of like-minded mothers who looked out for all the kids and reprimanded them too, as they would their own.
However, I find things changing as the kids grow. They are no longer small children nor are their friends. All of them have suddenly developed personalities of their own, rather strong ones, at that! They have fixed ideas of what is cool and what is not, what is good what is bad, right and wrong and that, sometimes, doesn’t coincide with what I think is right or age-appropriate.
I hear some of the older girls giggling over ‘crushes’ and  when N tells me about them, all I can think is “She’s just ten!” — too early to be listening in on stories of crushes. I hear words like ‘loser’ (how I detest it!), ‘jerk’ and much worse. One day N asked me what a b*****d was. Then we had this very lengthy discussion on why I must object each time they says sh**. ‘Everyone says it’, H argued, ‘even adults say it.’ He’s right of course and yet I’d much rather not have that language at home.
With peer-pressure peaking, I have to confess I have begun to think about how other kids influence H and N, specially the older ‘cooler’ lot, who the twins idolise. I find, now, that there are children whom I wish H and N just wouldn’t hang out with. Yet it doesn’t feel quite right to brand a particular child ‘bad company’, to ask the children to stay away from him or her.
What makes it more complicated is that I do see the good in them too – some are extremely well-read and well-informed, one of them is a crazy Harry Potter fan (a definite plus for me), one is a computer whizz, another one is passionate about animals and has loads of interesting nuggets of information. I like them for all those things but I feel they’re not quite right for H and N.
So what do I do?
I understand that there will be good and bad influences around them all the time. I cannot control them. I know that. So can I continue to stick with my idea of ‘people aren’t bad, habits are’? That’s what I told them when they were younger. Or am I being too idealistic?
Should I accept that along with the good comes bad and let them be, even while I continue to remind them of the rights and wrongs and hope to God they are listening? Will that help at all? Are they capable of seeing the good from the bad rather than idolising people as a whole? Or are they just too young to evaluate people objectively?
I could engage them elsewhere and minimise interaction. But that needs just so much energy and mind space. Sigh!

Apologies for off loading my worries here but I’m a bit lost. Am I over-thinking this whole thing?
Picture credit: PIXABAY
Linking up with Nabanita’s #MommyTalks.

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36 thoughts on “Friend, buddies and influences

  • December 20, 2016 at 3:43 am
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    This is a tough situation. You are doing a great work of keeping the discussion channel open with H and N.

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  • December 15, 2016 at 2:20 am
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    It is true that everyone has good and 'not so good' parts. That's exactly how I see it too. As long as H and N know where to draw the line they'll be alright. It is a good thing to meet and interact with different kinds of people. Maybe just let them know that they needn't have to do everything their friend does and still be best friends, that it is absolutely fine for them to not like something their friend likes and that they don't ever have to do/say anything that they don't want to. I really think you are an awesome mom and with your guidance, they'll grow into amazing individuals!

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  • December 13, 2016 at 1:44 pm
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    That's my natural reaction too Naba except I've seen these kids grow up before my eyes and I know their parents to be wonderfully level-headed. Banning them doesn't see quite right.

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    • December 13, 2016 at 2:07 pm
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      This concept of space bothers me a bit. I keep wondering how much is too much?

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  • December 12, 2016 at 12:36 pm
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    my dad was so strict when i was growing up and now I think THANK god he was , when i see others in my group.. where they are and where i am there is a big difference..

    I am sure your kids will appreciate when they grow up and understand at the moment they dont just as I did not at that time

    Bikram's

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    • December 13, 2016 at 2:08 pm
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      We had a strict mom too and we've grown to be grateful for it. I hope the kids understand this too.. and soon.

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  • December 11, 2016 at 2:41 pm
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    I remember my mother telling me stay away from a certain gang I was getting close with. I never could agree with that. It's difficult to filter out the 'good friends', just as you mentioned there are only bad habits..and that was in everyone, even ourselves. Kids today tend to be a lot more mature for their age, the easy online exposure could be the reason. Swear words are used by ten year olds, by thirteen or fourteen it becomes common language. Times change, we can't exactly point out who's on the wrong now.

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    • December 13, 2016 at 2:06 pm
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      You have a point there Darshana – times change. What was unacceptable a few decades ago is completely normal and acceptable now. That said things like using bad words do get to me.

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  • December 11, 2016 at 9:36 am
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    Aah! I totally understand this. Peer influence is pretty powerful actually. It is challenging to keep the kids away from negative influence. I remember, A using the F word because his best friend started using it. We had to do instant damage control and talk him through with the right and the wrong once again and things were back on track. But, yes I cant help myself from worrying about his friends and their influence.

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    • December 13, 2016 at 2:04 pm
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      It must be harder for you with A being away and not meeting him on a day-to-day basis. The thing is they do learn a lot too from their peers so we just have to make them mindful of what they are picking up.

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  • December 9, 2016 at 10:42 pm
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    oh I totally feel what you are saying here, I could write this about my life, except for the twin part. With a 9 year old and a 12 year old I feel this pressure and know more is coming. I have been so lucky with their friend choices so far, they have very beautiful friends and I love their parents which helps. But with Aspe off to high school next year that sheltered life is fast being shattered and she will be meeting so many new children and mixed with hormones and body development I am so nervous. I know she has great values and is a really good kid, but they are so influenced at that age. I tell her I understand that at school they ill use words and say things I don't allow an that if she is going to use them then keep it to school as she has younger siblings and she needs to also be mindful of adults. She needs to respect her teachers and other students. Let's hope they stay nice people, yet also not be bullied either. Great post! #mg

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    • December 13, 2016 at 2:03 pm
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      That's a great idea – to let them differentiate between home and school. And as long as they keep the basic values in place we have to let them be.

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  • December 9, 2016 at 2:42 am
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    Oh l face this all the time. It is tricky territory. Most times my gut feeling is right. But l know that telling them to keep away is counter productive. So l try to be cautious and bide my time. If l see something harmful l intervene else l allow then the space to make mistakes no matter how much l try to butt in. Just yesterday the younger son split up with a boy l never liked. Finally he saw how mean the other child was. And you know the worst part. That boy's mother was a real specimen regularly yelling at other kids for trivial kiddie fights. Anyway der aaye durust aaye. Very tricky indeed and gets worse as they grow older.

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    • December 13, 2016 at 2:01 pm
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      Oh thank goodness. It's the waiting and watching them that's painful. But I guess they'll learn from their own mistakes.

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  • December 8, 2016 at 2:02 pm
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    I am still battling this with my elder one.. She gets bullied by a group of kids and the influence is negative. I have tried telling her to stay away, but not sure why she still ends up being around the, After a point I stopped telling her. Its best she figured it out herself soemtimes.

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    • December 13, 2016 at 1:58 pm
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      Oh yes I know this one – they get bullied by the kids they hang out with and yet want to be with them – how paradoxical is that! Kids!!!

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  • December 7, 2016 at 2:13 pm
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    Actually, growing up kids with great values is a big task. But I believe that you job is instilling family values in children at regular intervals. When their roots become firm they will be wiser in choosing between good and bad.

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    • December 13, 2016 at 1:57 pm
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      Hmm… you're right. It's an ongoing process.

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  • December 7, 2016 at 1:40 pm
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    Interesting and it must be hard as a parent. If I were you, after I had told them the basics, I would let them learn their lessons. This is because I feel that such things will only increase with time and you cannot control much. So as a part of personality development, let them develop theirs. Not sure, how much it is possible but can try 🙂 Hugs and don't worry too much.

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    • December 13, 2016 at 1:56 pm
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      Right Parul I cannot control them so I'll have to let them be. Somedays the worrying gets to me. Thanks for being around :-).

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  • December 6, 2016 at 10:33 pm
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    You babies are geminians! Yayyy… Well good luck 😉
    You took me back to the time when my bro was hanging out with older kids. My mom had almost lost her hair trying to pry him away from them, even my dad was worried. Those were his teenage years and you can imagine how teenagers behave. His grades suffered. I used to talk to with him, that no matter what he has to live his dream. Well 10 years later he did start living his dreams. Even though we were worried about his future, the one thing that never stopped was continuous encouragement and motivation. My parents are excellent at that. I don't think we can exclude bad company completely… We can just make sure they are capable of taking a better decision.

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    • December 13, 2016 at 1:55 pm
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      Another Gemini? This place is teeming with them :-). If they turn out anything like your brother I'll only be too grateful. Yeah I'll be around them if they need help.

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    • December 13, 2016 at 1:54 pm
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      Touchwood to that. Thanks for visiting.

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  • December 6, 2016 at 3:30 pm
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    I have no experience as a Mom, but I hear you, Tulika. I know of my friends and neighbors who go through the same and I am sure, I will too someday. But, here's one tight hug to you, if it helps. 🙂

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    • December 13, 2016 at 1:53 pm
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      Oh yes it helps immensely. It does Shalini. Thanks for dropping by.

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  • December 6, 2016 at 3:07 pm
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    Interesting to know your babies are Geminis! "WE" Geminis are special, you see? We change colours like the chameleon! 😛
    Well, the topic you shared is something I haven't experienced as a mom, but I used to feel the same way when my younger bro would hang out with guys of all sorts, weird sorts, to be specific. Then, I would fume and fight with him, cos I knew not how to handle it all. Now, I feel, Tulika, however much you dissuade them from hanging out with certain kids, well, they are going to do what they like. And, kids can be pretty sentimental and sensitive about their friends; no one likes hearing any negative remark made about their friends! We adults don't either, do we? I feel, that if you have taught them well, if your upbringing has been solid, then you really don't need to worry this much, for if they know what's right and wrong, if they know the difference between good and bad, they will know who are the right kind of friends they need to stay with. Of course, that knowledge comes with age, but before that comes rebellion. So…one needs to be cautious!
    Oops, did I talk a bit too much? 😛
    Hugs to you, Tulika! Just know that you are doing such a fab job of bringing up your twins, so you need to have faith in them and their choices. Best wishes for everything, mommy! And, apologies if I went over the top! <3

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    • December 13, 2016 at 1:52 pm
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      I had never really known (or liked) a single Gemini till I had these two and now it's like having four or more kids wrapped up in a package of two! And no you didn't go over the top – you always have something heartfelt to say Shilpa. You're right they will do what they like at the end of the day. We can only hope they do the right thing.

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  • December 6, 2016 at 12:01 pm
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    This is a tough one and I'll admit I've faced it at some level too. If the kid is a negative influence I warn Gy to be cautious and remind her to look for the good and not take the negative with her. Not sure it works but she does question me a lot, as you already know. So. Am hoping at some level it makes sense. Plus I'm sure this is going to get more challenging as they grow older. Teens. Uff! Not looking forward to that space.

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    • December 13, 2016 at 1:50 pm
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      Tell me about it! The influences will get only stronger for the next few years at least. I wish I could just fast-forward it till they come to their senses.

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  • December 6, 2016 at 11:58 am
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    I hear you, Tulika. Truly! I've faced such dilemmas myself. They are at an impressionable age and you do wish as a parent to minimize, if not eliminate, all the negative influences. However, it's not practical, methinks. Even as I type this I know that I've asked R to keep away from bullies and wonder if I'm robbing him of a friend. There's no thumb rule to this. You're already doing the right thing by sensitizing them towards what is acceptable and not acceptable behaviour. I feel, and hope the same for my child too, that even if they do not exhibit an ideal behaviour right now, these lessons will always remain with them.

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    • December 13, 2016 at 1:46 pm
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      That's a thought – that they may not follow the right thing but they do know what it is. And hopefully they'll come back to it at some point. Thanks Uma.

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  • December 6, 2016 at 6:20 am
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    What an interesting post. My gut reaction is to let them work it out. If you have raised them to see the good from the bad rather than idolising people as a whole, then that is what they'll do. They may take some time to get there, but they'll figure it out for themselves and that's the post important lesson.
    I should add that I am in no way qualified to give this advice! I am nowhere near this stage yet (my daughter is 9 months old), but I am one of five and I remember my mum juggling with this with my younger siblings.
    #mg

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    • December 13, 2016 at 1:43 pm
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      Yeah I think I'll go with that. I'll keep talking to them of course – can't help that – pointing out the goods and the bads but ultimately I'll have to leave it to them to figure it out. Thanks for dropping by.

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