I haven’t confirmed to any specific age while making friends and neither has my husband. Ranging from teenagers to sexagenarians, we have struck a friendly rapport, to the point of enjoying everyone’s company as friends, every now and then. I guess that’s how our kid also assessed that a good company, can be labelled as friend, without confirming to any specific age (also he is too young to understand and I don’t want to spoil that spirit)
In fact, both I and my husband, enjoyed the company of older company, as much as our peers, during our growing up years. My husband, had a huge influence and benefited phenomenally well from his older friends, who were sometimes even 20 years or something older to him! And I’m equally thrilled when I see some of his choices in my kid as well.
The other day, my kid, a preschooler, happily introduced me to his new bus buddy. I was expecting another smaller version of him, but I was utterly surprised because what stepped down was a figure, which was almost three times taller than my son. It was a class 11th student, who gave a cheery smile and an equally cheerful hi-fi to him before walking away.
Apparently, this tall bus buddy, helps my son to enjoy his ride to school and plays games with him, while also telling him about how to sit and stand carefully in a moving bus. Now, that’s not bad! What better way to have probing eyes on my child, through an older friend!
Just in case you are wondering how helpful it could be, let me sum up a few bits of help that one can receive from having an older kid as friend.
- Non-preachy friends:-Your child will enjoy the company of someone older, who is not so preachy. As parents, no matter how much we try and befriend our kids, we end up being tad bit preachy. However, when the equation starts off with older people, as friends, this preachy-ness takes a back seat and valuable lessons are shown and not told. Kids learn through their older friends’ actions and reactions towards situations in life.
- Gain a perspective about life:-Often children associate well with someone else’s perspective of life more than parents. And if this perspective is gained through older friends, then this influence stays in life. Since younger kids are often at an impressionable age, the older kid’s perspective seems fresh, exciting and enticing as well. They usually gain an image about things and people from older friends really well, more than parents.
- Learn to enjoy life: Kids in older kids company, learn to enjoy things because they know they have someone elder, non-pushy and a more responsible one to look up to and to fall back upon (in case things go wrong).
- Older kids are vigilant: – With prying eyes of a trustworthy parent, but through a lens of a friend, an older friend usually keeps vigil over the younger one, allowing him to have fun, while guiding and steering him clear from problems.
- Teaches him valuable lessons through his own experiences: – As friends, the older kids often talk to the younger ones, sharing their joys and sorrows, like a confidante. This value of being considered as a friend often helps a younger one, to empathize, build trust and learn from an elder friend. \
- Feeling belonged:- When older kids choose younger ones as friends, they instill a feeling of acceptance and belonging in the hearts of the younger ones. This instills a feeling of security, somewhat confidence in them. Also the feeling of being accepted, despite being young, helps them to gain confidence about their other equations in life as well.
Having talked about the benefits, while it is a good idea to let your kid mingle with some older ones, but some caution is equally required to be undertaken by parents. It’s equally important that as parents, we are aware and updated about these older friends in the vicinity of our kids. Considering the level of child abuse cases, it wouldn’t be prudent to leave them completely in the older kids’ company. Caution is prescribed, but not at the cost of hampering the equation.
Ensure that the older kids in the younger ones’ circle are known to you and you know them well (if not at par like your kid). You should be equally vigilant about your kid’s movement with them, till the time they are not literally grown up.
Stay informed, but not interfering!
The idea is to not keep any boundaries for unadulterated good company, not for your and neither for your kids. Let them choose their friends, irrespective of any age. The idea should be to let them have simply good company, which makes them feel good about themselves. Anybody who cannot, no matter whatever age or even if its peers, need not be entertained.
After all, there are no rules in friendship except for feeling good in the company! Isn’t it!