I've recently realized that my daughter's social skills could use some improvement and I began to ask myself why. She's smart, articulate and ambitious but when it comes to dealing with her peers (and sometimes authority) she's been having a lot of difficulty.
Early on in her life she was more involved in group play and our city recreation classes, but when I went back to school in 2004 some of that activity was scaled back. I was too busy with school and other responsibilities to keep up our normal lifestyle. I finally graduated last year, but in 2008 I gave birth to a preemie and her brother was in the hospital for about 3 1/2 months which seriously cut down on not only mommy and me time but also our social life. Then his first year home also resulted in us being homebound most of the time because he was prohibited from visiting heavily populated areas (malls, playgrounds, the rec center).
Fast forward to 2010: She goes to school, comes home, interacts with me, her brother and other family members, goes back to school, comes home, more interaction, back to school...and so on.
There has been little time in her life for other kids and other types of interaction. Which has become a serious problem.
The reality is that our little girls already have a stigma attached to them. They are already viewed as angry people with crippled social skills, whether it is true or not. By not allowing our children to be involved in extra-curricular activities we are prohibiting them from developing the necessary social skills to survive in this world. They need to interact with other children and not just children who look like them and are the same age as them or live in the same neighborhood. They need to be exposed to children of all ages, ethnicities and social statuses. This will help give them a better understanding of the world and where they view themselves in it.
This year is going to be a year of changes. I'm going to have get out more (and as a writer who is a hermit by nature) that is not going to be easy for me. Yet it's her I'm worried about.
As moms we can become overwhelmed with the responsibilities of work and everyday life, but it's important to consider how that is affecting our children. I honestly hadn't considered that my desire to 'stay-in' coupled with the necessity to 'stay-in' was affecting my daughters social life. I figured she was making friends at school, that it was enough. But it never can be. She needs to interact with children on a regular basis behind and outside of the school walls. It will help her build confidence and allow her to shine and become even better than she already is.