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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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Pass along your plan. Mobilize the other caregivers in your child's life - your spouse, grandparents, daycare worker, babysitter - to help reinforce the values and the behavior you want to instill. This includes everything from saying thank you and being kind to not whining.
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."
Tina Fey (mom to daughter Alice): “I think every working mom probably feels the same thing: You go through big chunks of time where you’re just thinking, ‘This is impossible - oh, this is impossible.’ And then you just keep going and keep going, and you sort of do the impossible.”
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."
Encourage daddy time. The greatest untapped resource available for improving the lives of our children is time with Dad - early and often. Kids with engaged fathers do better in school, problem-solve more successfully, and generally cope better with whatever life throws at them.
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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Limit digital media for your youngest family members. Avoid digital media for toddlers younger than 18 to 24 months other than video chatting. For children 18 to 24 months, watch digital media with them because they learn from watching and talking with you. Limit screen use for preschool children, ages 2 to 5, to just 1 hour a day of high-quality programing. Co-viewing is best when possible and for young children. They learn best when they are re-taught in the real world what they just learned through a screen. So, if Ernie just taught the letter D, you can reiterate this later when you are having dinner or spending time with your child. See Healthy Digital Media Use Habits for Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers.