• Tue, Jul 23 2013

8 Reasons Not To Seek Out ‘Mom Friends’

“Mommy friends” are coveted milestone in motherhood — yet a fraught one. As Rebecca Eckler and Maria Guido have independently voiced, being an “old mom” can be awkward once all your previous mom friends have older kids and are kicking back tequila shots. Conversely, if you’re one of the first ones in your friend group to welcome a baby, you may find that your childless counterparts are also kicking back tequila shots while you timidly ask if BYOB means “bring your own baby.” But whether you’re a 19-year-old mom, a 29-year-old mom, or a 39-year-old mom, making mom friends is compared to dating for a reason. And that’s because all the various dynamics over parenting ideologies, mommy stigmas, and childrearing techniques can make for very hit or miss chemistry.

So while I encourage all the ladies (and gentlemen) of the Mommyish community to keep keepin’ on for mommy companions, my best advice to you is to not seek out friends with kids at all. Just seek out friends (some of whom may happen to have kids), and for the following reasons.

1. They will judge you faster than you can say “baby formula”

frowning baby

Even if you guys swear up and down over your matching Sophies that you will never harbor any mommy judgement, they totally will. One day — while you are at the park, while you are at playgroup, while you pick your kid up from school — they will have a fleeting moment of parental judgement. They may promise to never vocalize it to you (so decide how you feel about that), but it’s definitely there behind the trembling of their eyebrow and, “Oh, it’s fiiiiiine.”

(photo:  Conor O’Dea)

2. Having matching parenting ideologies isn’t a match made in heaven

lactivist

So you’ve decided mid-pregnancy that you’re going to be an AP parent? A Ferber gal? A “Cry It Out” couple? And you research out various baby and mommy groups according to your preferred parenting tactic? While this approach is great in theory, there will most likely come a moment where you, as a fully capable parent, decide well maybe baby-wearing isn’t for your family after all. Or maybe you won’t be able to commit to hardcore ferberizing your kids like you planned. Or maybe sleep training will look pretty tempting after a few months. Infants have a distinct way of changing what kind of parent you thought you’d like to be. And the very LAST thing you need as you reroute your parenting ideologies are some snarky ladies with resting bitchface giving you the eye roll because you’ve decided not to breastfeed.

(photo:  Jennifer Laycock)

3. Your kids may not like each other just because you do — and that will be awkward

fighting cats

Just because you and your new-found mommy companion are “Orange Is The New Black” watching soul mates doesn’t mean that your spawn will be having an arranged marriage. While your new blobs of JELLO (also known as newborns) may delight in wobbling next to one another on blankets in the park, don’t depend on these little ones to keep your flame a burning. Remember when your parents forced you to play with that brat up the street just because she and your mom were in book club together or something? Remember how awful that kid was? And remember when you went to your mom and she was like “lalalalalalal! I don’t hear you because she is the only person who I can stand in this town!” Well, your kid might grow up to be you and your friend’s kid that awful brat who does weird stuff like eat paper towels and spit them out on you. Your friendship over J. Courtney Sullivan novels, original Netflix series, or DIY crafting doesn’t have to be contingent on your children mirroring your bromance. In fact, it might be all the better for you if it isn’t.

(photo:  Steel)

4. One day one of your kids will do something really wrong to the other, and it won’t go over well

blonde little girl

This is major parenting moment for you and a memorable one for your kid. But what it won’t be great for is your precious mommy friendship. You know how many sob stories I get in my e-mail inbox about mommy friendships getting completely dashed because someone’s kid bit the other one? Or smacked the other one? Or stole something from the other one? If your friendship predates your uterine contractions, this probably isn’t a deal breaker. But if you’ve just joined a new playgroup and your 5-year-old throws a rock into the face of the one kid of the one lady you can kind of stand, consider that budding friendship most likely over.

(photo:  Corey Ann)

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  • Paul White

    I think the biggest thing is that I like talking about something other than the kiddo once in a while; if the very foundation of your group is the kiddo(s) then that’s less likely…

    • ElleJai

      I enjoy that too. Not to mention that other parents seem to think they have the right to critique the division of labour in your house; if they can handle 5 kids and themselves having gastro all at the same time while their husband is away and you are lucky enough to have your mum to help with one then you’re a sissy nancy-pants who shouldn’t breed. PARENTING IS NOT A COMPETITION.

  • whiteroses

    Some of my best friends also happen to be moms. When I get together with K (who has a boy and a girl), A (who has a boy the same age as mine) and A (who has a boy who is nearly ten and also happens to be my son’s godmother) we have an unspoken rule— that we will recommend products to each other and not much else. My parenting practices are not theirs necessarily. If one of us needs reassurance, we offer that. But I can wager a guess that all four of us know one essential parenting truth: my kid is not your kid. Thus, what worked for him or her may not work for my son. We offer support, we look after our kids, and we look after each other.

  • Justme

    I wholeheartedly concur with this advice. I don’t have any specific “mommy” friends. I have my friends who also happen to have children. There is a big (and important) difference between the two.

    • LiteBrite

      Me too. I’m not opposed to meeting and becoming friends with other parents – particularly those in my son’s daycare or school group – but I don’t actively seek them out. Then again, I’m not a natural joiner, so that probably has much to do with it.

  • jaybee

    I don’t entirely agree with this – there are a lot of mothers I encounter who really need parenting advice and sometimes more experienced/mature moms can help them. Mothers think because they love their kids, they will automatically make good choices, when in reality a lot of moms have no clue and are so unprepared. Don’t mean to insult anyone as there are a lot of mothers just natually gifted at being awesome moms or came from stable families with parents who took parenting very seriously. But being realistic – there are a lot of mothers who are pretty aweful at parenting and I never understand why people don’t realize that and get help.

    • Amber

      If you regularly encounter other moms who really need advice because they’re so awful at parenting but they don’t ask for it and you just give it anyways just to “help”, then you are that mom everybody hates. Sorry to be the one to break it to you.

    • jaybee

      You’re not breaking anything to me Amber as **I’m** not the one giving advice. I’m simply saying, sometimes women need guidance and who better to get it from then friends. Obviously – from our societal woes – there are issues.

    • Paula Christine

      Nobody needs your advice. Nobody needs unsolicited advice really. We all excel in some things and not in others. Let that happen. It’s not your job!

  • TeshaRunion

    In the childhood age everyone have been Playing each other .

    http://www.prlog.org/12162337-harbor-freight-coupon-avail-savings-up-to-50-free-shipping.html

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  • Victoria

    There is 8 years between me and my younger sister. My mother didn’t do “Mom friends” when I was young, but did with my sister, and the general result was that all but one of them (the one who she is actually still friends with and we both consider each other friends as well) treated me awfully. It wasn’t just that they didn’t know how to relate to kids my age, but when I became I teenager, they were pretty much in the mindset that teenagers were the source of all of society’s woes. I’m not trying to talk myself up, but I was a generally pleasant and “easy” teenager, I didn’t have an attitude problem, I knew how to have conversations with adults, etc. Essentially, I would have to skip all of the ” whole family” functions that they put together because I wasn’t welcome with the adults and I wasn’t really interested in doing anything with the children, where I was always sent anyway. So, I would say reason 9 for your list would be “If your children don’t follow the traditional two to three year gaps like stair steps, your families might not mesh.”

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  • American expat in Europe

    I had an expat mommy friend that when our friendship ended, I mourned the loss of my daughter’s playmates, her kids. Her? Meh. Don’t miss her at all. My husband misses her husband though. They both liked BBQs and beer and that seemed to be enough. lol

  • Katie Delia

    How about this one: Once you surround yourself with “mommy friends,” you may start neglecting friendships you’ve had for years, and lose good friends because they don’t have kids the same ages as your kids. Then when any of the above happen, you won’t have any friends left.

  • m

    well, i’m an older, non- mom, and the two moms next to me have been pretty awful towards me…. granted, i’m a little weird, and work largely from home…but that’s no reason to spread gossip/rumours, and have turned my little heaven into fear. not very maternal, not cool, and just so high-school bitchy i dunno whether to grovel, strike back, or just move. yes: it’s that bad

  • eliza

    Koa Beck: Please recognize that when you jokingly imply that three miscarriages are not even as bad as having a child with Down syndrome, you are perpetuating the false idea that Down syndrome is a tragedy, which it isn’t. Our society treats people with DS as inferior, subhuman, and unwanted, and the words we use when referring to them adds to that sad misrepresentation. It results in the continued marginalization of hundreds of thousands of regular people who happen to have an extra chromosome.

  • Chad Ness

    I agree with advice to just seek out friends, some of whom happen to have kids. But, a lot of these reasons seem to be more along the lines of, “Don’t be friends with shitty people.” I’ve been a parent for almost 12 years, and have friends with kids ranging from 16 to newborn, as well as many without kids. We haven’t run in to any of these problems. I’m not sure if we’re lucky, have excellent taste, are especially picky about who we spend time with, or are just really tolerant, but I don’t get how these would become such a big deal?

    #1 & #2, yeah, we all judge each other some, but get a thicker skin! Obviously if you do something a different way than someone else, you think your way is the “right” way, but that applies to everything! We have friends who like old houses in the city with lots of old woodwork and character, we have a nice new house in the suburbs. Obviously they think our choice is wrong, and vice versa, but wrong for US or THEM, not wrong in general. But since we’re adults, we realize we can have different ideas, and who really cares?

    #3 – yeah, that’s a problem, I’ll admit. So those might be people you hang out with on a night out, not getting the families together.

    #4 – Anyone who can’t patch things over because of kid fights isn’t someone I’d want to be a friend with anyway.

    #5 – Seriously? What kind of person would do this?

    #6 – Yeah, we all need support some times. So be supportive of your friends when that’s all they need, give them advice when that’s what they need. It’s part of being a friend.

    #7 & 8 – Quit hanging out with judgemental jerks and this won’t be an issue. Those don’t sound like the kind of people I want to be friends with, parents or not.

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