I’ve written here plenty of times about mom friendships: how to find friends as a new mom, how to stay friends with non-moms. But what happens when the babies that brought you and your mom-bestie together grow up…and start growing apart?
This was the topic of one of my first advice columns at The Mid, and I thought I’d post the question – and my answer! – here in case it might help one of you.
My daughter and the daughter of one of my closest friends have essentially stopped being friends, and now I feel my friend pulling away from me. Granted, it would be nice to take the girls to events/around town together like we used to when they were younger, but I’m not going to force my daughter to hang out with someone just because I’m friends with her mother. How can I keep my mom friendship from imploding just because our daughters don’t get along anymore? I really love this friend and would like for us to remain close.
Isn’t it interesting how kids can both create—and complicate—friendships?
When they’re little, you sometimes get stuck hanging out with people you’d rather not simply because your kids happen to be the same age and you’re in that not-particularly-discerning period when any human being who can form full sentences is like a lifeline to your former, fully verbal and not-yet-covered-in-unidentifiable-substances self.
Often those relationships fade as your kids outgrow library storytime and playdates, but sometimes, you luck out and manage to form a strong friendship with the potential to last. And then that very connection is threatened by your kids’ stubborn insistence on developing opinions about the people they hang out with.
It’s not fair, I tell you.
Here’s the rub: yes, absolutely, two adults can be friends even if their kids aren’t…but if there’s even a trace of defensiveness or hurt surrounding your girls’ falling out, keeping that connection strong might be easier said than done.
I think you may need to have a frank discussion with your friend to find out why she’s pulling away. Is it simply because it’s not as convenient to hang out anymore, now that the girls have separate interests? Could it be that she was more invested in the idea of your daughters being friends than she is in your individual relationship? (Ouch, I know, but worth considering.) Or, is it possible there are some hard feelings about your daughter’s lack of interest in hers?
As much as this conflict-avoidant mama hates to break it to you, this friendship could easily experience a fizzling demise if you don’t hit it head-on and have the awkward conversation neither of you likely wants to have.
So start the conversation—by phone, email, Facebook; whatever seems most natural. In your own words, communicate these three truths:
“I have noticed that our daughters aren’t as interested in hanging out anymore, and I feel like you’re pulling back as a result;”
“That makes me sad because I really value our friendship and want it to continue;” and
“I am willing to put in effort to reconnect if you’re up for it too.”
The older I get, Anon, the less I’m willing to let issues simmer under the surface with the people I care about. Sometimes guessing, hints and subtlety just get in the way. So I challenge you to quit supposing and find out for sure what’s really going on. Be direct, be earnest, and be honest with your friend. This matters to you, and she should know it. Hopefully, it’ll turn out that she’s just been waiting for you to make the first overture.
Rooting for you,
Can you relate to this mom’s dilemma? Leave a comment below and let us know how you’ve dealt with your child’s friendships cooling, especially when the mom means a lot to you. And I’d love to have you read more of my articles and my regular column, Ask The Mom, at The Mid! Have a question you’d like me to answer? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org: you can stay anonymous and I always strive to be compassionate, encouraging, and most of all, helpful in my answers.