Can Your Mommy Come Out and Play?

Can moms sustain their friendship when the kids are no longer friends? It can be possible with the right attitude and advice from experts and from moms who have made their friendships last.


t">By Christina Lorenzen


Can Parents Remain Friends In Spite of the Kids? Parenting expert and author Marianne Chasen offers moms these friendship survival tips

t">One of the nicest perks of parenting is watching our young children develop friendships, because as they make new friends, we make new friends. It’s one of the rare milestones we are fortunate to share with our kids.

During the early years, parenting workshops and playgroups bring families together and, ultimately, friendships blossom. But it’s the moms who keep the momentum going. That need for companionship – someone to pal around with – is just as strong for the adults as it is for the kids. So, as long as everyone is happy and compatible, the friendships flourish.

Moms often hope these friendships will last, following their children through the school years. So, it comes as a shock when one day their child comes home and announces that he is no longer friends with Johnny or Mary.

What happens to mom now? If she has established strong ties to Johnny or Mary’s mother, does that friendship have to come to an end, too? Or can these moms maintain a relationship even if their children don’t want to be a part of it anymore?

s=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"> 

s=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">The Ouch of Growing Pains

Although it may be painful to watch children move on and explore new friendships that mommy hasn’t “arranged,” it is normal and inevitable.

s=MsoBodyText style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">
"What a parent needs to keep in mind is that the way children make friends is not the same as an adult," says Marianne Chasen, parenting expert and author of The Sacred Weave of Mothering (Aslan, 2002). Early childhood friendships often fizzle out. "It’s a very common dilemma, more so during the elementary years but even throughout middle school," says Chasen. Nevertheless, she believes that friendships between mothers can survive the fallout.

s=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">
Lindenhurst, NY,
mom Lisa DiGiona agrees. Her longtime "mommy" friendships have survived despite the fact that her children have moved on. DiGiona and her daughters had been part of a friendship that developed from infancy. The children in the group, now ranging in ages from 10 to 13, have since gone their separate ways. DiGiona believes that as the children matured, their interests changed. “It was who likes soccer, who likes computers and who doesn’t like computers." Despite the end of the childrens relationships, DiGiona held on to her mommy friends.

s=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">
Parents often do not realize that as adults they have already formed their own personal checklist for socializing. "Children are still in the process of forming their own criteria for selecting friends. They are ‘trying out’ what fits and what works. Especially during the elementary years, your children
s friendships will come and go," says Chasen.

Mary Smith (not her real name)
agrees. Her sons’ friendships changed as they got older. Personality conflicts and dissimilar interests slowly disconnected their group of young playmates, she explains. Though saddened by the change, Smith was determined that her relationships with the other moms would continue.


Nothing in Common

For one of Smith’s sons, the friendship was bound by a common interest. “It started with scouts and my son is no longer a scout." Now, she adds, "My son just doesnt hang out with those boys anymore.” Pursuing different interests is one of the prime reasons for children to go their separate ways. "Common interests are just not there," echoes DiGiona.

Sometimes after a year or more of playing together, children suddenly find that a friend isn
t a match after all. Parents, often disappointed or upset, may tend to force the children to continue the friendship. If the moms are friends, it becomes awkward and can sometimes lead to hard feelings. However, in DiGionas case, the mothers still shared interests and did not let their children’s animosity topple their relationships. "We have a pact," says DiGiona. "We are friends. We never discipline each others kids. The kids have always had to work out their problems on their own."

Chasen also advises moms to openly discuss the situation with their children. "Moms can use this situation as a teaching opportunity. You can say to your child that ‘you may not be friends anymore but we
re still going to see her/him because mommy and Mrs. Whoever are still friends. Well have to find a way you two can be respectful and kind to one another during those times.’”

ZE: 10pt"> 

When Moms Move On

ZE: 10pt">Chasen says it is healthy for a child to see that mommy has friends outside of their children’s social circle, especially since a mother’s life is usually so tightly intertwined with her child’s. Mothering can be isolating and it’s beneficial for moms to get out and socialize. "It’s a positive for children to see their moms as someone besides mommy, as a person. With more bullying and socializing problems cropping up at younger ages, moms can provide a model on how to have a friend and how to talk to a friend," says Chasen.

DiGiona and her friends have kept their friendship strong with "moms night out" with dinner or a movie planned. They celebrate one another’s birthdays as well.

ZE: 10pt">Smith and her mommy friends have extended their friendships to include their spouses. They plan “couples night out” as often as once a month.

ZE: 10pt"> 

One Big Happy Family?

Is it possible to get everyone together once in a while without fireworks erupting? Every situation is different but DiGiona and Smith say it can work under the right conditions.

DiGiona believes that since she and the other moms do not insist that their children be friends, the children are more open to getting together once in a while. "Every six months or so, we
ll get together for a specific event,” says DiGiona. “Usually, its more common in the summer since all the kids like the beach or pool."

Smith agrees that the warmer weather offers a chance to get their entire group together. "The kids can socialize at events in the summer like a barbecue." Smith adds, "I dont force my children to socialize with children theyre not friends with, but if were going as a family we would all go."

Chasen advises moms not to force their children into a friendship. And she believes it is important to support their child when they say they no longer are friends. "Again, telling your child that though it may not be a good match for them they still need to find ways to be kind to the other children provides a learning opportunity," says Chasen.


Cutting the Cord

DiGiona feels that "keeping the kids as a separate entity" is key to keeping the mommy friendship intact. "Moms have to have a common interest in each other beyond their children or it wont work," she believes. "Keep the children out of the ‘mom’ friendship – and all of the moms have to agree on this,” DiGiona stresses. “It has to be a mutual feeling."

Smith agrees. "Try to keep the relationship separate from the kids. Don
t get involved with kids’ squabbles unless its a serious problem where someone is hurting someone."

Whether DiGiona and the other moms see each other once a month or once a year, she believes their friendship will be a lasting one – even if the children are no longer involved.


Christina Lorenzen is a freelance writer and the mother of an 11-year-old son and a 9-year-old daughter, to whom she credits the idea for this article.