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MOM FRIENDS, PART 3: Is it really that important to have other parent friends?
MOM FRIENDS is a multi-part series where moms chat about making friends with others parents. In this post, moms chat the value of friendships.
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Know the value of face-to-face communication. Very young children learn best through two-way communication. Engaging in back-and-forth "talk time" is critical for language development. Conversations can be face-to-face or, if necessary, by video chat with a traveling parent or far-away grandparent. Research has shown that it's that "back-and-forth conversation" that improves language skills—much more so than "passive" listening or one-way interaction with a screen.
Welcome back to MOM FRIENDS, the three-part series where moms chat about making friends with others parents.
This is the last leg of journey! So we're asking the ever-important question, the reason we should or shouldn't be chatting "mom friends" in the first place.
Here we go:
Are mom friends really that important?
We talked about WHY it's hard to make and maintain friends as a mom, and HOW moms are doing it (like Facebook, for example). But this question is key.
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Most of the moms we spoke to said friendships, whether they are with parents or non-parents, are important. Friends allow us to bounce around ideas, vent, brag to and laugh. The key, it seems, is that friends make you feel like you're not alone.
Check out what the moms had to say.
As a young mom, having other parent friends helps you feel less like an outsider:
Ashley Lopez, mother of three:
"When I was younger, I thought it was really important to have mom friends. I had my son at 18 and was 23 when I had my daughter. At 18, all of my friends from high school were going out and being normal 18-year-olds. I still wanted to be around other moms so I wouldn’t feel so alone and embarrassed.
When I had my daughter, I was attending ASU and no one that I talked to had any kids so I definitely did not fit in. I don’t know if it was the age or the relationship I was in, but I didn’t feel like I needed to be friends with other moms. Of course it would be nice because they understand your life more, but it’s just not that important to me anymore. I’m happy with the way my life is now with mom friends and my non-mom friends."
Know when to toilet train. Look for these two signs that your child is ready to use the potty: He senses the urge to pee and poop (this is different from knowing that he's already gone), and he asks for a diaper change.
What Lopez wants people to know:
I think it’s just important to be around people who will better your life as a person and a mother. That being said, I'm also a stepmom and it is important to meet women who are stepmoms. It’s a different territory and it’s difficult to not over step any boundaries or to just understand the boundaries in general. Talking to other moms truly does help.
It's always good to get advice from fellow moms
Tatyana, mother of one:
"They’re someone who can offer advice and be an ear. Someone who knows what you’re going through."
What Tatyana wants people to know:
It’s OK not to have mom friends as well. I have plenty of friends who aren’t parents but can provide great examples as individuals.
Kristi Piper, mother of five:
I have a "Google friend" whom I go to for any questions like where to sign my kids up for football or need-to-know info about the area. "I consider ... friendships very valuable."
Friends remind you of your individuality
Jordan Johnson, mother of one:
"I think it's important for moms to go out without their kids every once and a while, too. It feels like once you become a mom then you don't get to be your own person anymore. You have to be completely selfless and put your kids first 100 percent of the time. Some people are able to do that but you shouldn't feel bad for needing a break from your kids. It's nice to go out with your friends and have a conversation without constantly being interrupted."
Building confidence. Use descriptive praise to build confidence. An example would be “I like the way you picked up your toys. You’re so helpful,” instead of “that’s great.” Praise strengths unrelated to talking as well such as athletic skills, being organized, independent, or careful.
It's nice to be with people who get it
Araceli Perez, mother of two:
"It’s nice to relate to the mom friends that I do have. Most of the time, when my kid decides to act out, I don’t feel discouraged around them since they can relate. The best mom friends are the ones that never judge or try to say something when it comes to your choices."
It's different than a romantic relationship
Whitney Ford, mother of two:
"I notice when I get out of the house, it always ends up being worth it," Ford said. It's "having the empathy and human connection" that is so important.
"It's good for your mental health to have another person that you can relate to on that level," she said. And it's different than a spouse.
"Moms and dads experience parenthood differently, so having other mom friends...I really do think it's important for your well-being."
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Turn taking. Help all members of the family take turns talking and listening. Children find it much easier to talk when there are fewer interruptions.