Socializing with Other Parents.

Updated on May 12, 2013
J.M. asks from Chesterfield, MO
23 answers

My husband and I attended a party recently given by parents from our children's school. As soon as we walk in, I start to say hello to some of the moms and go to introduce my husband and realize he had just turned right around and walked back out the door. I made an excuse like he probably just got a business call and go out to check on him. He tells me he didn't like how everyone turned to look at us when we walked in. We finally go in and notice everyone has name tags on. Ok, no big deal, kind of fun. So, I go to make mine and he tells me, begging all most he does not want to wear one. I told him if he doesn't put one on he is going to draw more attention to himself, being the only one who doesn't have one on. So he gets his way, no name tag. Then doesn't get anything to eat, nothing to drink, not even water. We sit in the front room alone as I eat by myself trying to convince my husband not to be rude and eat the delicious food. I try to scarf it down quickly so we can get out of the awkward situation and go mingle & hurry so not many people notice we are sitting by ourselves. The whole hour and a half we're there he was either right by my side or disappeared outside. It was obvious how weird my husband was being. And I say weird because that's what he looked like if i didn't know him. He probably said 2 words to someone while we were there. He knew the host and one other dad. It was very embarrassing as I watched and mingled with the moms and seeing the dads all talking together while my husband did not participate and act so selfish because he didn't want to be there.

My husband gets a little weird when he doesn't know people but he's not shy. He can strike up a conversation better than I can and deals with small talk better than I can. He just doesn't like to go out and always complains while we are getting ready to go somewhere. Complaining he doesn't have anything to where, why do we have to do this or that. We are always late because he is stalling. If it's not something my husband wants to do then we don't do it.

His excuse about this behavior has made me feel so bitter and not attracted to him. It was selfish and all about himself instead of thinking about his children and me because he knows I volunteer at school and I know these women. Telling me "what's the point of going to these functions? We'll never see these people again." His parents never did this kind of stuff, on and on and on. But my parents NEVER socialized with our friends parents and I don't think it is natural. We have two children and we should do it for them.

I told him these are the parents of our children's friends. We should get to know them and find out what they are like because our children hang out at some of their homes. We do this stuff for our children and ourselves. A lot of these parents are so nice and so fun.

He is not a very hands on dad. His biological dad relinquished his rights from him when he was a baby and has never had anything to do with him and his mom remarried and her 2nd husband adopted him when he was 8 but is not very close to him. My husband has always just been very independent but not very social. Selfish when it comes to doing things, if he's not getting anything out of it, he won't do it. He works all the time. Lately he hasn't been able to take time out for himself and when he does he doesn't know what to do with himself. He's really just up and down.

What are your thoughts on socializing with other parents and bottom line doing things for your children sometimes even when they are not involved?

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answers from Milwaukee on

My husband would HATE to be put in that situation. I know this so I would never have him go. Some men like to socialize but many don't. Actually, my BIL is like this too. Hates to go to these social events where you don't know anyone.
Because he did not know anyone there, he felt uncomfortable. Most men don't care to make new friends either.

Be careful about the grass being greener thing. Super social men can be annoying as they are always trying to hang out with others and possibly trying to one up and impress others. They kind of leave you hanging. My friend left her boyfriend because everytime they were at an event he would be off talking to everyone. She wanted to hang out with him.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Hubby is a total introvert and is totally uncomfortable in social settings. We go anyway because I make him. I just tell him we're going because it's expected.

So we go and if he needs to he can sit in the corner all night while I enjoy visiting with everyone and just hanging out. If he gets noticed it's usually by some other man that isn't comfortable so they either sit side by side in silence or the find something to chat about for a few minutes.

I like the party and he likes the people watching. It works out because I basically ignore his attitude and behaviors. If anyone does notice he's not the social butterfly I just say it takes all kinds of people to make the world a whole.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

That would be my idea of death by party. While I would not do the things he did, in my head and heart, I am wishing I could do the very same thing!

You think he is selfish. I think the pot is calling the kettle black. If my poor H hated parties that much I wouldn't make him go.

Yes, I am shy at big gatherings. Most men are shy at big gatherings.
My H might go but neither of us would stay long. Yet Friday we went and served PTA lunch to 150-200 faculty and staff at the high school. If you give us a job to do we are in our element. We know how to serve people, we can make small talk, we can talk to the people serving along side us.

But goodness knows, I hate to walk around and just schmooze. It feels fake and pointless.

Working, volunteering gives us plan. It maps out our interactions. If you want to drag him to counseling, you can. It might help. But you will never make him, you. Find him a job to do that gets him out doing stuff with others side by side. Good luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

I actually feel bad for your husband. He's not comfortable at these events and is trying to explain that to you, and he's drowning socially in a sea of people that he doesn't know. You want him to behave like a social butterfly when maybe he simply can't. It's not the same thing socializing with strangers as it is socializing with people you know... and these are "your" people, not "his" people and not "yours and his" people.

Each time you called him selfish in your post, I cringed. I think he needs understanding, not bitterness and a wife who now finds him unattractive because of this social awkwardness.

On top of it, you said yourself that your husband has been having to work all the time and has no time for himself. You're supposedly socializing with other adults from your childrens' school for their benefit, but isn't that taking time away from your family? Time that your husband could be spending with you and bonding with the children?

I might try socializing one on one with other parents, and maybe have it in your home so that you can invite your childrens' friends to come along. Then your children can be involved and your husband could ACTUALLY get to know the parents of the other children instead of just being thrown into the middle of the ocean not knowing how to swim.

And maybe schedule some marriage counseling for both of you. You need to reconnect and communicate better.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I think that people have different strengths.

While one of your strengths in "networking for your kids" is bubbly parties...

HIS may well be in a different avenue:
- Building a playground
- Tutoring
- Basketball / Computer/ Art/ Whatever seminar
- Fundraising
- et cetera

As long as you try to force him to do things he doesn't like AND be happy about them... (You'll eat it and you'll like it!)... You are going to be disappointed.

A person would have to be exceptionally daft to look forward to doing something they hate, and then are going to be looked down upon & get in trouble for not having fun and not doing it like someone else wants it done.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

It sounds like he has some anxiety in this particular social situation. My husband can be the same way in certain situations where he doesn't know anyone. Most of the school functions I attend by myself (usually it's mostly moms there anyway.) I would cut him a break on this one and go by yourself in the future. It's not worth putting your marriage at risk.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My initial thought was that he obviously doesn't want to be there so leave him at home. But you know what? I agree with you that mature adults step out of their comfort zones and do things they don't want to do for each other and their children. I don't think you're asking too much of him at all - if he had anxiety or depression or some other illness, either physical or emotional, that would make social situations too draining then sure, give him a pass, but that doesn't seem to be the case here. It does seem that he just doesn't value these situations so therefore he's going to be a sourpuss and that's not OK.

What I would do if I were you would be to come to agreement with him on the number/frequency of these outings that are, in your opinion, a command performance for him. I have long had this argument with my husband about family functions. He tells me that I don't have to go to his family's functions - which is just hilarious because not only would I never *not* show up to a family function, I'm usually help planning it or am bringing a key dish like the entree or a special dessert - and tries to weasel out of mine because of that ("I don't expect me to go to your family functions so I shouldn't have to go to yours"). So we have come to an agreement that Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, July 4th, Thanksgiving (if we see my family) and Christmas are not negotiable. St. Patrick's day or a birthday or First Communion? I don't care.

So come up with a number of these kinds of things that you can agree on - maybe one every other month, or 3 or 6 a year or something. Then for the others, don't let his lack of involvement keep you at home, just say that he wasn't able to join you and go yourself if you'd like.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Does he have social anxiety? My dad does. It prevented him from participating in many activities over the course of his life. He's even left weddings early because he just couldn't hold it together any longer. He's also not shy--he can talk your ear off, sometimes, but other times he retreats into himself and just needs his personal space and privacy.

See if you can get him to talk to a counselor, rather than just get frustrated and angry with him. It might not be something that he can control without outside help.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

OMG!!! My friend and I just had this discussion. I even went out of my way to find a friend for him. It is someone who is already his friend that they do things together (same flying club), yet this man is also involved with the school the head of dad's club. Oh heck no would my husband go. I was begging to make an effort. Please just get involved. Have one conversation with someone at the baseball game, please something.

My friend who is very involved said similar things about her husband. Also, my friend who was complaining has a husband who is a tball/baseball coach. So i think he is involved, but not to the level she wants him to be. He was invited to do a dad's night out and he ignored the message and had no plans that night (my friend was upset that he didn't make he effort).

My husband is not as extreme as your story. He would be polite around parents of our kids' classmates, yet i would need to remind him about the activity and hear "oh, do i need to go too?" Maybe it was an off day for your husband?

edit: i read some of the other answers. every situation is different. i think some people (dad's in this case) have an 'i don't have time...what's in it for me attitude.' S' M made a good point. But i feel like J.'s husband and my examples are men who are the standoffs who she would not want to socialize with when they act this way. I also agree with getting together with one or two couples could be a better way to get to know people.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

I can not think of many men who would find that enjoyable, and these are men who are pretty hands on parents.

You feel as if he was being selfish by not doing what you wanted, but can't you see how you are also being selfish by trying to force him into doing what you wanted him to do when it was very clear just how out of his element he felt?

There isn't a lot I wouldn't do for my kids, but I don't feel I have to do everything (including socialize) if it makes me uncomfortable, and that doesn't make me less of a parent.

Next, time he can stay home and you can go and enjoy yourself. no excuses for him, if asked just a simple explanation that he stayed behind. It's no one elses business what your husband is doing or why he isn't there.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Sure there are some men who actually enjoy these things but I promise you more often than not they would rather be home watching basketball or golf on TV. Most of them are there at the insistence of their wives!
My husband hates all the parent-social stuff.
I hate going to his business dinners.
But we both do it, when absolutely necessary.
You need to compromise here. You don't need to force him to every single event, just make sure he's there when it's important, the big game, the school play, the academic awards ceremony, stuff like that.
My husband only asks me to go to business dinners and cocktail parties when spouses are expected (I am a social person but I HATE making forced small talk with people I really have nothing in common with!)
We make it easier on each other for getting in and out as quickly as possible.
You will get to know other parents as your children start playing together, or play on a team together.
If you come across another couple you really like and want to get to know better, invite them over for drinks an/or dinner. It's usually more relaxing to entertain people in your own home.
If you're husband is TRULY anti social don't let that stop you, reach out and spend time with other moms, I've made some really good friends that way, and I didn't need my husband to do it :-)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I have definitely been in your husband's shoes: It's a vibe thing. I am Mexican and the socializing in playdates, birthday parties, or 'small talk' is most certain foreign to me. I am an extrovert and have no problems walking up to strangers, in social or work setting. I guess the best way I can put it is, I am very picky who I spend my limited personal time with, and forcing me to spend time with someone, whose facial expressions/body language tell me they are standoffish is against my core principle. Hope you and your husband can find a middle ground. Good luck & Happy Mother's Day :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Counseling.. He has major issues for good reasons. But, He is missing out on his child life...

And pulling you along with him..

If you all do not show how to be social and get long with others, what do you expect your son to do?

I hope you can convince your husband he is missing out on lots of opportunities for all of you..

If he refuses to get help..go by yourself.. You need someone to help you deal with this behavior.

I am sending you strength.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I don't what to tell you, J.. If my husband had acted/behaved that way - I would most likely have left him by himself and let him fend for himself.

It's almost like he was behaving that way FOR attention. He knows how to socialize - he dated and married you - so he has skills. Why are you giving him excuses?

Next time - just go without him. Tell him that you aren't going to be his lifeboat and hang with him all night because he doesn't want to put himself out there. That's on HIM. NOT YOU. Yes, it's a tad harsh - but really? Enough. He's an adult. He does not need to be hand-held in this situation.

About his parenting style? You need to step up and tell him what you expect. If he didn't have good examples growing up on how to be a dad - tell him how your dad did....tell him what you expect. He can change. He has to WANT to change.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

How annoying and incredibly immature of him. Good news is its the moms who really are more key in terms of helping their kids facilitate friendships. I'd leave him home next time. It's not a must that you attend these things for your kids. You can host playmates instead etc. I'm in your camp of wanting to get to know the other parents etc but it's not a must. But if you want to make friends, go alone. People will just focus on the fact that you're nice and friendly and they'll write him off. I'm lucky my husband might not be dying to go but he'd be friendly etc. and chances are by the end of the night he would have met someone he liked.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

my husband does not like to socialize with people he doesn't know. when he is put in that situation, the whole setting gets funny, him struggling to find a common topic with someone. but that's why he married me. he can't make me shut up even if he wanted to. i really don't see any faults with his behavior being that that's who he is. then the kids' social life falls on your shoulders, just like mine depend on me. i know it's frustrating but it's how it is. if we depended on my husband to have a social life, we'd have none.
so my thoughts on socializing for kids' sake is okay as long as it's something you want to do. if your husband does not like doing something like that, don't force him. he will just get more awkward.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I don't always enjoy them, but I go when warranted.

I would pick apart what the specific issues are. Is it his parenting? Is it socializing? I am unlikely to strike up a conversation, but my extroverted husband will talk to just about anybody. I go when I need to go, but sometimes he goes by himself, too.

I'm an introvert. If he is an introvert, getting to talk to people is a tough thing. I hate small talk, but if I know a mom pretty well, I can chat with her. Does he have this generic problem in any social situation? Like if you went to a wedding and he didn't know anyone? Or is it just about kids? Are these events where he really needs to go or are some More Important?

I also suggest that you and he consider counseling, as all these issues are so intertwined you feel turned off by him.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

My friend has a husband who also hates to socialize. So, she just happily goes to these events without him and makes an excuse for him. She is VERY social and has many friends. Now I know he feels shy and is extremely unhappy at things with many people...but when we go to their house for dinner he is happy to socialize with us one on one. Your husband has some extreme social anxiety...and I think it's not that uncommon. He should talk to his doctor about it. Personally, I think he should try taking something for it and try making an effort. But if he does not do that you should go to social things without him.



answers from Kansas City on

I think most men hate stuff like this.
But if he cannot appreciate how awkward his (rude) behavior looks and how much it disappoints you, how rude je was to the people that bothered to include hom--go alone from now on.

Seriously, if it such TORTURE for him--leave him at home! (I suspect the cat is already out of the bag with this group with regard to his odd behavior. I had a former coworker that brought her husband to a cookout once and he literally crouched & ate in a corner of the hosts yard and spoke to noone. That was office fodder for years! Everyone wondered what she saw in him/why she even brought him & how odd & rude it was.

Is it that he CAN'T do it or WON'T do it (be polite & sociable)?



answers from Chicago on

Yuck, I hate those kind of get togethers. Unless I know people and like them, I do not go to these functions. how do they benefit your kids? i do like doing one on one get togethers and are open to them. But going to a parents' party night, no thanks.

I may not be as obvious as your husband in my distaste of this type of thing but I would probably be watching the clock the whole time!



answers from Boston on

Sounds like an introvert, but no excuse to be rude. I agree that you will occasionally see these people at soccer fields etc and he needs to learn to be polite.



answers from Portland on

I was a single mom and now am a single grandmother. There will be single moms at these events. Just go by yourself. It's important to at least know other parents so that your child can have play dates and visit in other homes. You want to know what the other parent's priorities and parenting styles are. You'll want to know if they are friendly and reasonable as people.
Going to these events is a good way to get to know these things.

I never socialized separately with my daughter's friend's parents or my grandchildren's parents but I have and still do know them enough to be comfortable with them having my children in their homes and their children in my home and to take children and have children take to other events.

My husband also didn't like to socialize. I did not depend on him for my social life and he didn't mind. In fact he was relieved.



answers from Dallas on

If he feels like he's out of sync, and not sure what to do with himself, and if he wants to be better, suggest counseling. The way you describe the situation, it sounded like a combination of selfish AND anxious. You know he loves you and your kids. You know he loves you. You know he has no real solid experience at healthy parenting and modeling that kind of behavior. Hopefully he'll get the message and try. Don't go on the attack - ask him if he wants to parent the way HE experienced it, or if he wants it to be different for his kids, then let him know you want to work with him to make it happen.

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