Can Mom Friends Stand the Test of Time?
By Lynn Cukaj, ATR-BC www.CreativeExpressionsConsulting.com
Art Therapy for Children, Teenagers and Adults
Mom friends. What is it that connects us?
In a general sense, “Mom Friends” are women who hang out with each other because their kids are the same age, attend the same school, belong to the same clubs and teams, or live in the same neighborhood. Are these friendships circumstantial and can they stand the test of time?
I once read that women go through friendship changes every 7 years. This is due in part to the changes a woman experiences in her life. Let’s take this theory and apply it to the “traditional” stages in a woman’s adult life: From 18 to 25, many are single, attend college, and start a job. By 25 to 32, many will advance their career, get married and raise a family. 32 to 37 we begin to get more active and involved in our children's lives. At this stage, family life is also very time consuming. By 37 to 44, our children grow older and become more independent. By the time our children are in college, they are no longer influencing our connections with other moms. And the friendships that have lasted throughout the 7 year intervals will most likely last a long time. Although this is not always the path for women, generally, every 7 years, situations and interests change and therefore new friendships may begin while others wane. Other situations that may cause a shift in friendships may be due to a move, change in jobs, or change in marital status.
Think about your friends. How many have you known since childhood and how many have you known for less than a decade?
As a parent, we want to see our children choose friends who we believe are in their best interest. Is it right then, for us to influence a friendship between our child and another child by becoming friends with their mom? Or do we let our child choose for themselves? Think of the friendships we had growing up: Were they influenced by our mothers? If so, are we still friends with them today?
Perhaps you are living in the town you grew up in or moved to a place you are familiar with. Friendships with other moms came easy. Alternatively, new friendships may be established by other means like dance class, soccer practice, or cub scouts.
There is a meme circulating the internet about moms using playdates with their kids as a way to make mom friends. I laugh because it’s not very far off from my experience, whether or not I admitted it at the time. I remember going to music group with my son and being among all of the other new moms in the room. The moms would then plan to meet at the local library for story hour, so I joined. And then it was at the playground, where i’d sit with the other moms while our children played. These connections were beneficial at that time because they helped me gain valuable insight on preschools, dentists, doctors, and so on. At that time, the only thing in common with other moms is the fact that we both had a child the same age. For some, as our children’s commonalities grew, so did our friendships. But once the child becomes independent from the parent, will the mom friendship last?
In order for mom friendships to sustain over time, there needs to be common interests or hobbies outside of your children.
If the connection lasts beyond the commonalities of your children, then a true friendship has a chance to blossom. If not, then perhaps the relationship is more of an acquaintance. These types of relationships are necessary to stay in the know about PTA events, school related issues, future planning when it comes to the college admittance process, and more. We need to have both types of relationships in our lives as parents. Similar to having a good book to read and reading the newspaper for information, is it beneficial to have both mom friends and mom acquaintances. It is also key to differentiate the two, as setting personal boundaries with acquaintances can protect us and our child from neighborhood gossip.
The pandemic made many people assess their friendships as it wasn’t as convenient to foster them with other parents. Many of us chose to stay closer with friends who are fulfilling and bring positivity into our lives. Finding true friends is a life-long quest. Whether our friendships began in childhood, were influenced by our moms, or was based on circumstantial events such as work or parenthood, when we find a true friend, it can be extremely meaningful and fulfilling. And for friendships that last through the 7 year itch, consider them special. Continue to be open, honest, and communicative with them in order to strengthen your bond.
By fostering healthy relationships in our lives, we are ultimately being a good role model for our children.
Please comment below with your experience with other mom friends, how you deal with the choices your children make when picking their friends, or anything else that sparked some thought in this post.
Mindful Activity to Evaluate Friendships
You may do this activity independently to analyze your own friendships or you may sit with your child and have a discussion. When working with your child, be cognizant of how you listen and be gentile as you guide.
Pick one friend in particular when answering the following six questions:
1. List 3 top reasons why you like this friend.
2. Think about the last time you hung out with them. How did you feel when you joined their company and how did you feel when you left their company?
3. What are your common interests?
4. Does your friend ever say things that make you feel bad or sad about yourself? Do you ever feel criticized or judged by them? Does your friend gossip or say mean things about other people?
5. Think of the last time you felt sad about something. Was your friend there to make you feel better? Likewise, last time your friend was sad about something were you there to support him/her?
6. Is there a healthy balance of interest among the two of you? Do they reach out to you to make plans as much as you reach out to them?
For more therapeutic activities and resources on how to incorporate Art Therapy into your life, read more from Lynn's Creative Expressions Blog.
Learn more about Art Therapy and Lynn Cukaj, Board Certified Art Therapist here: www.CreativeExpressionsConsulting.com