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by Abigail Van Buren

Find Good Company in Solitude Through an Active Imagination

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are expecting our first child (a boy) later this year. How do I teach my son to enjoy solitude and his own company? Too many people today turn on the radio or TV because they can't appreciate the quiet.

I want my little one to have loving friends, but also periods of quiet, reflective fun time by himself. My husband and I grew up with siblings, but he hates solitude while I find lots of activities to do by myself. I am never lonely. What's the difference between solitude and loneliness? -- SOLITARY WOMAN IN OTTAWA, CANADA

DEAR SOLITARY WOMAN: The difference between solitude and loneliness depends on how an individual handles being alone. Some people find silence threatening, while others -- like yourself -- need it to recharge their batteries.

For your son to be at ease when he's alone, ration his television time. Read to him so he'll learn to appreciate the entertainment books provide. Give him items to play with that foster creativity, such as clay, paints and paper, a cardboard box he can pretend is a playhouse or a spaceship. (You may find he prefers it to whatever toy the carton contained.) If he's encouraged to use it, his imagination will flourish.

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