It’s cold and wintery, but the temperature finally hit above 45 degrees and you are determined to get your kid to the park. You hope the outcome will be to get some much needed socialization for him, and yourself as well. After 3 runny noses, 2 coughs, and 1 covid scare, you can finally face the world without your tot infecting others. At the park, you and the other parents are around but are all busy making sure your kids don’t fall off the play structure. Finally you get your child occupied on the swing, or in the sand pit and you say hello to the mom pushing her child on the swing next to you. After a pleasantry about the weather and a comment about how cute their kid is, you have no idea what to say next! How do we go from casual conversation to deep connections? How do we make mom friends?
Why do we struggle making friends with other parents?
According to Hope Kelaher, making friends as an adult overall is challenging. From her book, Here to Make Friends: How to Make Friends as an Adult, we don’t live in the same type of communities as our parents and grandparents. Our parents, who relied on physical relationships to sustain this connection, saw other people
more often and in a more meaningful way. Nowadays, the prevalence of social media, our relationships are a bit more shallow. We follow the highlight reel of good events on Instagram, but many of us can count on one hand friendships that we could call in an emergency or even to hang out. This transient type of relationship makes it hard to establish the trust necessary to maintain and sustain meaningful friendships. Meeting up at the park with a mom from a facebook group for a playdate may not translate into a meaningful friendship if you can’t develop a deep connection and a regularity of meetings.
Is there hope for me in finding mom friends?!
Yes, but it’s going to take some work! Kelaher suggests that one element to finding quality friendships is “reciprocity and interdependence”. When you meet a parent friend at your child’s school, you have be ready to begin the deeper conversations and actually get to know them! This means that finding opportunities to regularly engage with this person can materialize a deeper connection, and maybe even a friendship. Once you find this connection, you have to go beyond liking their Instagram posts to begin learning about their likes and dislikes and interests. Just because your kid likes their kid doesn’t mean you will like that parent if your interests and personalities clash.
Where do I go from here?
In our slightly dystopian covid world, it can seem that our prospects for finding parent friends is positively glum. I like to think that while the pandemic has made it hard to meet friends while wearing a mask, not all hope is lost. Finding mom friends might look like connecting with your work’s parenting group and suggesting a group activity to the zoo. It might look like posting on a facebook group about finding a parent friend who likes specific activities (Target and Starbucks anyone?), and it might even mean joining a club or hobby group and finding people who have shared interests and happen to also have children.
Making friends as an adult isn’t like your days at school, because you aren’t around the same people everyday. The nice thing about this is that you have opportunities to make life-long connections with people that are actually interested in the same things you are. It seems scary, but remember most people are trying to get socialization just like you are! Go out there and make some mom friends turned BFFs!