Even if We Are Not Capable to Form Genuinely Deep Relationships, Like Friendship, Let’s Make Sure that Our Children Can.

We are the way we are. In his short story The Door in the Wall H.G. Wells pointed out how futile is “to seek again belatedly that which is not found by seeking.”

Let’s just accept it but without denouncing the importance of deep friendship altogether. Let’s focus primarily on helping our children to form life-long warm and supportive relations with their peers. And for that children need — first and foremost — plenty of time for freely playing with each other. We should be aware of that every time we pull our children away from the crude noise and perilous chaos of playing with their friends, so they can learn wonderful individual skills like creativity, nature-connectedness, compassion, arts, emotional intelligence, marine biology, programming videogames — you name it — in safe educational setting.

Many modern progressive educational programs are trying to combine play and learning subject matter. As a rule they are not doing a good job at either one. Fortunately, children need little help, if any, to learn how to play with each other. All what we as parents need, is to give them time and space for being together. Not once a week. Not twice, but every day for several hours, if they wish. And this requires appreciation of the task’s difficulty and importance.

Living our lives focusing on individual achievement, we are highly mobile. Every time we move — because of a new job, nicer house, higher rated school, warmer winters, or because of changing a partner (many of us are starving for meaningful and deep connections with others, even when we are not capable of establishing or keeping them anymore) — our children’s heart-to-heart ties with their friends are severed. They learn that it will hurt, if you become emotionally involved, that it will not last anyway. They lose their ability to derive satisfaction from sharing time together. They try compensating it by focusing on individual achievements. It never works. Feelings become convoluted, as is perceptively captured in “Illumination” by Gogol Bordello, which concludes with the line: “You are the only light there is for yourself my friend.”

And then they have their own children, whose need to play with friends they cannot perceive anymore. Is there a way out?