We Have Nothing In Common

My son has been reminding me lately of how hard growing up can be.  When I was a little girl, I struggled with some of the same questions I see him asking.  I resisted telling people my preferences for fear of hurting their feelings and for fear of not fitting in.

I wasn’t unpopular and I wasn’t popular.  I got along with both groups but never fit in well with either. I was stuck awkwardly in the middle. I kept my mouth shut and tried not to offend anyone.  I feared telling people no.  I feared telling people yes. I feared.

My son told me that he doesn’t really enjoy playing with one of his little friends anymore.  They no longer have anything in common.  He even said that he’s pretended to be interested in the things this friend is interested in just so he doesn’t hurt this little boy’s feelings. He’s tired of doing this.  He went on to tell me that he doesn’t want to be this boy’s friend anymore but doesn’t know how to tell him this.

My response:  You don’t ever tell someone you don’t want to be friends with them simply because you have nothing in common. Of course, from my bag of parenting wisdom, I pulled out this question…how would you feel if someone you like said that to you?  It’s one thing if they’ve wronged you in some way.  But this other little boy is just being who he is.

You don’t tell someone you don’t want to be friends just because you have nothing in common with them.  This is my personal opinion. (On a side note, isn’t life a journey of having to interact with lots of people who we might not have much in common with?)

I then went on to tell him that he does need to start expressing his likes and dislikes with this little boy.  If you don’t like the games he is interested in...then tell him.  If you don’t want to play what he wants to play…then tell him.   I told him he needs to stop pretending.  He needs to start articulating his interests and stop holding back.   Yet, here’s the key…you do it nicely and respectfully.

Okay, parents…what am I missing?    Am I giving the right advice?   Is there a better way to tackle this issue?

I am interested in hearing your feedback and your wisdom.

Linking up with Shari today for Leaving a Legacy Thursday

8 thoughts on “We Have Nothing In Common

  1. Anne

    You are not missing a thing! You might want to suggest that he offer other things to do that he does like, i.e.; “I don’t really like playing Ninjas but maybe we can go outside and try some horseshoes!”

    1. David Rupert

      I always tried to teach the “no, but” policy. If you have to say “no” to something, follow it up with “but.”

      The “but” is like what you described and softens the blow and helps guide people to mutually agreeable activity.

  2. Caroline

    I like Anne’s suggestion above.

    This is a tough situation, isn’t it? When I think back to my own childhood, I suppose when friends didn’t want to be friends anymore, they just kind of naturally drifted apart. You’re right that it’s a fine line between expressing personal preferences and doing so with love. It’s hard to discern sometimes… what does that line look like in certain situations?

    1. Eileen Post author

      Yes, it is tough. I don’t want my answers to somehow scar my child for life! 😉 That drifting apart is so true. But, as I was saying to my son, you need to be honest about your likes and dislikes too…so that people can make those choices based on truth. It is a fine line.

  3. Denise Dilley

    Maybe I don’t have a right to speak to this situation because I don’t have kids, but my best friend has two little girls that were hurt by a similar situation. Both of them were told by their “best” friend that she didn’t want to be their friend anymore. My friends little girls were devastated, and have continued to struggle when it comes to trusting their new friends. The youngest is especially sensitive now and still talks about it.

    With all that said, I think you’ve handled the situation well. Giving your little boy a chance to speak up and find things in common with his friend might be the best solution.

    1. Eileen Post author

      You have every right to speak up, Denise! Thank you for your input. I think it’s weird how the issue of friendship is so black and white from a child’s perspective. Yet, as we grow older we realize that we don’t have to necessarily have tons in common in order to be friends with someone. I agree with you. Those words “I don’t want to be your friend” are so hurtful. I want my son to understand this.


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