Do you ever feel like your family dynamic just repels people? Is it hard for you and your husband to make friends because people without children don’t “get” your life, and people with children who are older than yours don’t desire to be around young ones so much anymore?
I don’t mean that to sound harsh or self-deprecating, but I think it is a true reality for some, myself included. For example, a family with young children can easily exhaust a couple with no kids. The same goes for friends whose children have outgrown the infant/toddler stage.
Well, don’t lose all hope. You will not be stuck in this unfortunate stage of friends being turned off by your family dynamic forever, but there are things that you can do now to encourage, breed, and even sustain friendships while your children are young.
Here are a few steps that you can take to make and maintain friendships while parenting young kids:
Step 1: Let people know that you are a “family under construction”. What does this mean? It means you have to preempt any get-togethers, meetings, and outings with your friends by informing them that you have young children and that there are a few things they can expect such as crying, whining, tantrums, running, distraction, screaming… this list goes on.
Step 2: Don’t let your children control you or the “play-date”. Remain in control — your friends will admire this. Even if your child is clinging to your leg and screaming at you, continue to finish your conversation so that your friends understand that just because you have children doesn’t mean you value their friendship any less.
Step 3: Find humor in the craziness. Make fun of yourself, your children, and your family as appropriate. Your friends will respect and appreciate that you don’t take yourself and the woes of parenthood too seriously, and will ultimately find you and your children’s presence joyful (well, for the most part).
Step 4: Don’t fake the “perfect” family or model children. Your friends will see right through this BS. Alternatively, they will appreciate so much more your genuineness about the current challenges you are facing with regard to parenthood.
Step 5: Don’t force your children on your friends. Know your friends’ boundaries, and sure as heck don’t allow your children to climb on them, yell in their face, be disrespectful (purposefully or not), or destroy their home/belongings. Your friends will appreciate that you value what is important to them.
Step 6: Allow for breaks. Yes, your friends will need breaks from you and your kids, and the madness that typically follows you around. This is okay. Let them have their time and space and do not take offense.
Step 7: Be understanding. Be understanding that your friends may not understand or want to hear all of your parenting troubles. Nor do they want to hear of your triumphs. Don’t judge them too harshly for this.
Step 8: Remind yourself that it won’t be like this forever. Know that this time will pass and that your children will grow up. You and your kiddos will not always be a traveling circus show.
I hope I have provided you some encouragement to go out there and make some more friendships, or to at least maintain the ones that you already have. 🙂