Making Peace with the Fact That Your Child Needs Friends, Other than Yourself

A Mother’s Scary Journey of Facing the Unknown Traumas of Her Son Making Friends

Photo courtesy of Pamela Henry of

I have tried to avoid eye contact with mothers wanting their kid to have a play date with my son for long enough. It’s not that I’m a self-controlling mom who wants her son all to herself, dooming him to a life of ongoing therapy. I’m not that needy, seriously. The dream of watching my son become a responsible man and leaving the nest as soon as possible is real. My issue is discovering how to maneuver my way around the land mines of guns, drugs, pedophiles, and thieves.

Yes it’s true that this is coming from my own encounter with abuse when I was a child, but 2018 has become a scarier place than the 70s. Today we have found children who have been kidnapped and used as sex slaves for years on end. Young black boys are murdered for holding candy bars, playing with toy guns, wearing hoodies, playing their music too loud, and a host of other non-threatening things. Meth has become the drug of choice for many small town neighborhoods. No one seems to respect other people’s property anymore, and guns are taking over the world. In the midst of all of this, I’m expected to be OK if my son goes over to Timmy’s house for a play date.

My son is about to turn nine and he is bursting at the seams to be a normal kid and have his friends over. We live in a growing community and are the only black family in our neighborhood. He loves his school and has never had an issue with being the only black kid in his class. My first response is, “I don’t know their parents or whether they own guns.”

The gun issue is big for me, because I don’t want my son to be shot on purpose or by accident. I don’t want to find out later that the owner felt threatened by my black son when he was playing at Timmy’s house. These are the things that a mother, like me, thinks about when her son makes friends.

My son was invited to a birthday party by one of his school friends. We have been to a few birthday parties like this, and he always have fun. When I received more details about this particular party, I knew that I didn’t want him to go. The party would take place outside and the mother wanted each kid to bring a toy gun to play with. I don’t allow my son to play with toy guns at home because of the Tamir Rice incident, as well as the other shootings. I guess I should not be offended that the mother didn’t think about this when she invite my son, but this is national news.

I know that my son loves me, and he knows that I love him, so it is only fair that I try to come to a compromise so that he may partake in play time with his chosen friends. I have discussed with him why I have reservations about him going over to Timmy’s house, and he is saddened by it but understands. I feel that I need to know the parents and the child before I can comfortably make that move. So my brilliant suggestion is to have a play date in public places such as our local child friendly Freedom Station or any other child appropriate location. My heart tells me that this idea will make everybody happy, and keep me from becoming a psycho. Let the friendships commence.

Pamela Henry
Pamela Henry

Yellow is my favorite color, which expresses my joy in all things cheerful. I’m an artist and business owner of As a longtime Screen Actors Guild member and Actors Equity member, I still have hope for my big movie role.

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Making Peace with the Fact That Your Child Needs Friends, Other than Yourself
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