Why Should We Be Friends?

Written on January 23, 2014 at 10:00 am , by

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.


Dear Rosalind, 

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.

Have you ever NOT wanted to be friends with the parents of your kid’s friends? Post a comment and tell me about it here.

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 askrosalind@familycircle.com.


4 Responses to “Why Should We Be Friends?”

  1. Navigating relationships with the parents of my kids’ friends has been tricky. After years of sleepovers, travel sports team and joint family dinners and outings with my son’s best buddy’s family, the boys ‘broke up.’ While it’s not uncommon for kids to change friend-groups as they move into middle school, it was tough on the very real friendship I’d developed with his friend’s mom and now we rarely speak and hardly ever see each other. Kids can be fickle so I’m not surprised the boys stopped hanging out, but I didn’t expect that from MY friend. I hadn’t realized how much she viewed our relationship as being about our kids.

  2. Rosalind, I have discovered exactly your point as our daughter has moved into High School. We must cultivate some sort of relationship with at least a few moms in the group our kid hangs out with…but yes, there are some which are on the “outer ring” so-to-speak. There may be many reasons why we don’t care for those parents, and even more reasons why we might misunderstand them! In my heart I want to be approachable because that parent might need help and someone to reach out to. My daughter and I have been handled by so many mean Mommies and daughters that I truly don’t want to be one too. It’s difficult to be the kind of person that is gracious in a sincere way when sometimes things inside are reacting. Still I try.

  3. I am stuck on the first part of this mom’s question. She has two boys, 10 and 14, and neither of them ever gets invited to friends’ homes, but friends come to their house. They have asked their mom to become friends with other moms. Maybe they think that is a way for them to be invited over to their friends’ homes. Maybe the boys think that they are not being invited anywhere to visit because the other moms do not know their mother. Why is their mother not willing to comply for their sake? At 10 and 14, these boys want friends, and want to be invited over by their friends. Something is amiss, and the mom needs to find out what that issue is.

  4. I was also struck by the apparent “lopsided” friendship the sons have with their friends. Perhaps the friends’ parents have work schedules that don’t allow for other children coming over to play. As a “domestic engineer” myself, this is often our situation with certain playmates, so we host these children more often than my kids get invited over. Am I friends with these parents? It depends…some are friends and some just acquaintances. No matter what, it has been good to know I could count on them if I needed another parent to pinch-hit for me in case of an emergency. Have I ever NOT wanted to be friends with a parent? Yes. Even after trying to make an acquaintance work, some people just aren’t a good fit. And the interesting thing in my experience is the kids’ friendships don’t really develop, either. So are the kids taking cues from us adults or the other way around?