If you want your children to open up to you and seek advice from you when they are teens, you need to keep them close to you from the time they are little.
Too many parents are concerned that their kids will lack socialization opportunities so they are obsessed with enrolling them in all sort of activities outside the home, play dates, classes, etc. But tell me, do you usually learn new skills from a novice or from an expert?
Involving kids in all these activities and play dates are opportunities for exposure to other humans, but to think that they will learn appropriate social skills from other clueless individuals is an illusion.
You and other closely attached adults are the one who teaches your child socialization skills, and only in your home can you control what your children learn. Proof is, how many of you report how you kids picked up bad habits or manner from kids they hang out with? Or have been bullied or pushed around? Or have had their possessions stolen or broken? Can you say that these are appropriate social skills?
School, extra curricular activities, play dates are all artificial means to learn appropriate social skills. And they are not representative of real life. We don’t hang out with people who are only the same age, same color, same religion, same interests, etc. In real life, we are exposed to a melting pot of different kinds of individuals and this is how we learn. In the olden days, they had it right. Classrooms were mixed age groups and the younger children would learn from the older ones.
When you keep sending off your children to play with peers, or go to classes from a young age, where they spend less and less time with you (maybe one hour a night, if so), unknowingly, you are teaching your children that their best teachers are their peers or people outside your home. They become less and less attached to you and more and more attached to their friends.
Humans, and animals need to feel attached. After years of training them this way, it is no wonder that when they hit puberty, they don’t really care for your opinion, and look to peers for support and advise. That’s exactly what you will have taught them. It is a natural need… if you don’t make sure your children are securely attached to you, they will look elsewhere to fulfill that need.
On the other hand. If you keep your children close, you get involved in activities with them and their siblings or close friends or extended family, you feed that parent-child bond in a positive way.
Are homeschooling kids outcasts and socially inept? On the contrary, how about people who live in isolated areas? Socialization is taught at home and by adults, not peers.
So for parents of young children don’t be so worried that your children have to constantly be with other children to become social creatures. Your first concern should be that they are securely attached to you, their parents, and nourish that bond carefully, or you will lose the closeness of your relationship with your child. You want your children to come to you for support, advise, and help.