Advice

Carolyn Hax: Woman wants kids but is awkward near them

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: I am getting married to a wonderful man and could not be more excited. He and I both want to have children within the next few years. The thing is, I’m not great with kids. I was even adamantly against having children until I began to change my mind a few years ago (before we started dating). I didn’t grow up around them, my friends don’t have them, and the only exposure I had was as a camp counselor. My future sister-in-law has two kids, and I get along with them pretty well, but often find I don’t know what to do or say around them. Do I need to find a way to spend more time around kids so I’m ready for my own?

Kids kids kids

Only if you think that would settle your nerves (and if you can find a way to do it, because adults with no connections to kids can’t exactly start milling around playgrounds).

I’m not terribly concerned, though. A lot of people who are flummoxed by kids do just fine with their own. You know them so well and/or experience so much together, you always have something to say or ask or giggle about. Plus, you’re in at the ground floor, so you can — to the degree they cooperate — influence their interests in order to guarantee some shared ones.

Which reminds me, I need to get my kids watching more Monty Python.

Bonus: Your not being a natural kid person means you’ll be more cognizant of the fact that not everyone will be thrilled by your kids.

Re: Kids: How do you ensure that your kid DOESN’T share of any of your interests? My husband and I are fairly nerdy, but I don’t need them practicing their silly walks and reciting the dead parrot skit to their friends in eighth grade and being the class weirdo. Is it even possible to keep kids out of their parents’ interests?

Fairly Nerdy

This breaks my heart. How bout we bury the idea of “class weirdo,” one set of parents at a time.

I believe in introducing kids to all kinds of constructive or cultural things and then watching their faces. Where you see joy, you keep feeding them whatever brought it about, even if it isn't what you would have chosen for them. By supporting and validating what brings them joy, and encouraging them to run with these things in their own ways using their own ideas and resources, you help create a strong kid. A strong kid will be on a better path than a popular one, always, even if the path sometimes is steeply uphill.

Re: Class Weirdo:

How else are they going to make friends with people who accept them as they are?

Anonymous

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at washingtonpost.com.

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