My kids are a unit. Not necessarily a good unit. They are like many groups in that they are formidable to outsiders and not welcoming unless you drink the kool-aid, per se.
They have their own games, their own way of doing things. They have an entire set of rules and code, and woe to you if you try to play without knowing those boundaries.
Many times, they don’t see the point of a playdate or park day because they have each other. They honestly don’t see the need for the outside world.
Twice last week I had to cancel plans because my kids didn’t want to go. And before you go thinking I’m a giant wuss who lets my kids decide our social schedule imagine trying to visit with a friend while one, or two, or three kids, are constantly pestering you with “I’m bored. I’m hot. I want to go home. I want to play on your phone. Can I? I don’t want to be here. I’m hungry. I’m miserable.”
And okay, I am a wuss.
Then I watched this week’s episode of Parenthood. I’m now seeing the correlations between the TV family and ours. It’s not any more pleasant, but it’s helping me understand my own family a bit better. Maybe.
Anyway, Max and his cousin are a unit. Though the cousin is getting tired of being a unit with Max and wants to be with other friends, too. I started thinking about Jett and Carlos and how they are a unit. But instead of Carlos wanting friends, he is becoming more socially isolated. At his own choice. He is choosing to be Jett’s emotional blankie to help him cope with the world.
In my conversations with J about it, I’ve been throwing around vaguely inappropriate terms when describing their relationship. Terms like Stockholm Syndrome and Abused Spouse. I’m not trying to make light of either of those conditions. But I’m concerned that my five year old is developing that type of pathology.
How do you have a healthy sibling relationship when one sibling has a condition that, by definition, struggles to define and maintain healthy relationships? And how do you teach the other sibling, who by nature is a peacekeeper and lover of his family not to be a door mat? And how do you encourage that child to seek out and nurture outside relationships with he cries and clings and runs away when asked to participate in an activity outside the family sphere?
I am at a loss. I joked with Carlos yesterday that some people actually prefer to spend time with their friends over their family. He replied “Aren’t we lucky we aren’t that way”.
Are we though?