You may have once thought that the difficulties of finding and maintaining friendships were something that only grade school kids had to deal with. However, even with more maturity and life experience, it can be apparent that the struggle of creating meaningful friendships can exist at any age and stage of life. Motherhood is no exception.
We polled our Instagram Followers and 80% of participants felt that it was challenging in motherhood to develop meaningful friendships. But don’t worry. We have you covered. Here are 4 additional tips for developing true friendships and connections, even while in the trenches of motherhood.
(Please Note: This is Part 2 of this article. To view Part 1 click here)1. Be a safe place. When I was younger I heard a phrase that has stuck with me for many years...“You want people to know that their name is safe with you”. Gossiping is certainly an easy and enticing trap to fall into. Engaging in those types of conversations can even create artificial feelings of belonging, which can lull humans of any age to participate. However, as soon as we hear someone talk negatively about another person, we also automatically wonder “what does she say about me while I am not around?” This can often result in the demise of vulnerability. It can prevent others from revealing their true selves.
On the other hand, when gossiping is not the basis of conversations, this helps everyone to feel a bit more comfortable in their own skin. Trust develops, and greater confidence in relationships emerge.
If you truly want to be seen and allow others to be seen in your relationships, the best place to start is working on the way you speak (and also think) about others. Which leads us to our next tip.2. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Let’s face it, we are all flawed. We all have bad days. We all have weaknesses that cause us to fall short from where we would like to be. So if a fellow mother does or says something that comes across below par, try to give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she had a terrible night’s sleep. Maybe her marriage is falling apart. Maybe she just found out that her child has a severe medical problem. Or maybe she is suffering from a debilitating emotional illness. We just simply can’t always tell what someone is going through.
Grace in motherhood can do wonders for ourselves and our relationships. By demonstrating a non-judgmental, and forgiving heart, others will be able to recognize that they can be truly seen for who they are....in good times and bad. Unlike gossiping, extending grace gives permission for vulnerability to exist. Which results in deeper and more fulfilling friendships.3. Assess your relationships. As we go along and do our best to extend forgiveness for the missteps of others, we also need to ensure that our relationships are healthy and do not hinder our personal well-being. Thus, it is important to take a step back from time to time and assess how your relationships are functioning and how they can improve.
Some questions you may want to consider are:
How can I be a better friend to this person?
How do I typically feel when I am around this person?
Are there any boundaries that need to be communicated?
Does this person know that I care? Why?
Do I feel that this friend cares? Why?
Do I consider the relationship healthy? Or Toxic? Why?
(If toxic) Should I continue to invest time into this relationship?
While doing these assessments, it is important to remember that every friendship takes work. It isn’t always easy. However, you want to invest your time in friendships that enrich your life and not continuously tear you down.4. Continue to seek meaningful friendships. Once you have found your people, keep in mind that there are others around you that are still seeking and needing friendships. Keep an eye out for them. If you see that mom who is new to the neighborhood, let her know about the activities nearby. Invite her to story time or for park play dates. Expanding our circle can bring a variety of people into our lives that we can connect with on different levels and in different ways. Having an “inclusive” rather than “exclusive” mentality can bring additional support and satisfaction into our world as mothers. Get to know your village and allow it to expand.
What else has helped you develop friendships in motherhood? We would love to hear from you. Please comment below.
About the author:
Michelle White lives in Texas with her husband and three young boys (ages 7, 5, and 2). She is the Owner and Founder of Rest Dress (www.restdress.com), a company that sells lounge dresses designed with mothers in mind.