Do you have to be buddy-buddy with the parents of your kid's friends? Chances are that at some point you'll come across a mom or dad you'd rather not pass time with or who just doesn't fit into your schedule. Our parenting expert, Rosalind Wiseman, recently got a letter from a woman struggling with just this dilemma. Here's what happened, why it may be a personal red flag for you, and—no matter what your true desires—how you can handle the situation with grace.
I have two boys, 10 and 14. Neither gets invited over to friends’ houses but friends do come over to our house. My sons think I should be friends with the other boys’ mothers. I don't think so. I think being friends with those women isn't good because these friendships are with his friends. What do you think?
Let’s take a moment to appreciate that your boys see you as more than the person in their life who does things for them or enforces rules they don’t like. They, at a pretty young age, know that friendships are important for everyone, including you. The question is, why do they feel this way? Are they worried you don’t have a support system? Do they think you’re lonely? Whatever their reasons, that’s what I’d pay attention to.
I’d sit down with them at dinner and first acknowledge that you appreciate their concern. Then I’d ask them to explain their motivation and which of their friends’ parents they respect the most and why. Obviously, you get to choose who your friends are, but this is still a great conversation to have with your kids.
Your question brings up an important issue about being friends with the parents of your children’s friends, because you may be spending a lot of time with these folks whether you like it or not. So here's what I'd suggest.
At the very least, it’s wise to have a good working relationship with them. This means you know the other parents well enough that you can ask each other for help in times of need—like picking up and dropping off when the other parent has to be somewhere else at the same time. As our kids get older, it’s helpful for other parents to be part of your collective reconnaissance team because some of us have children who give us the least amount of information possible about what they’re doing and where they’re doing it.
That doesn’t mean you have to be best friends. But don’t be surprised if you wake up one day and realize that these people who have shared all the incredible highs and lows of raising kids have truly become your friends.
Rosalind Wiseman is the author of the new best seller Masterminds and Wingmen as well as Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads. For more info, go to rosalindwiseman.com. Do you have a parenting question? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.