A good friend is worth their weight in gold, but a good mom friend is absolutely priceless. The trials and tribulations of motherhood bring about certain challenges that only other mothers can relate to, which is why there are certain mom friend qualities you need to look for. Things like trustworthiness, relate-ability, and humor are all essential on the list of things to look for in a mom friend.
Although it can be tough to think about adding one more thing to your ever-expanding to-do list, if you don't have a mom friend or two, finding one can be beneficial to your mental health. "Sharing similar experiences with others creates a culture of normalizing, which is a very powerful tool for coping with a challenge. And make no mistake, motherhood is a challenge," Laura Jordan, MA, LPC, LMFT, a therapist specializing in maternal and reproductive mental health, tells Romper. "Normalizing happens when we hear others talking about their experience — it resonates, and in this we feel less isolated. Early and new parenthood, especially, can be incredibly isolating. Normalizing and making quality friends combats the isolation that can occur, which alleviates and/or mitigates mental health issues that can happen as a result of isolation."
So, when you start looking for a mom friend who can fulfill this role for you, keep in mind these qualities that you need in a mom friend.
1. A Good Listener
When you're deep in the mom trenches, having a mom friend with a willing ear to listen to all of the issues that you're both experiencing can be life-saving because of the comfort it can bring. "The skill of being a good listener provides the speaker with validation, which in turn provides comfort. Additionally, it's important to have a trusted sounding board for working through issues and challenges, and parenting has no shortage of these," Jordan says.
On top of a listening mom friend providing comfort, the act of sharing your problems out loud can have a profound impact, according to Jordan. "The simple act of speaking a problem aloud can prime the brain to work toward a solution and resolution. Add on top, the possibility of receiving good solicited advice and you've got what women have been doing for ages," Jordan explains. "Women are information-sharers and connectors, it's evolutionary and survival-based to share experience and solutions."
You will likely need to lean on your mom friend for support when times get tough — whether that's by listening to your problems or physically helping you through something. "As with any other relationship, trust is one of the most basic components necessary for a functional friendship," Jordan tells Romper. "Without the presence of trust, a true and fulfilling friendship cannot exist."
Let's imagine that your kid (heaven forbid) falls off the monkey bars and breaks their arm while you and your mom friend are with your kids at the park. It's nice to trust your mom friend enough to be able to support you by driving you and your kid to the emergency room or keeping an eye on your other kids so that you can focus all of your attention on the kid with the broken arm. Mom friends who you can trust both when you're in a crunch, and when you need a listening ear, are crucial.
3. Supportive Of Your Parenting Style
Whether you're a tiger mom, you're into attachment parenting techniques, or your parenting style lends itself more toward letting your kids eat snacks off of the minivan floor and calling it a meal, there is no one right or wrong way to parent. When it comes to mom friends, you may not agree completely on how the other mom parents her kids — and that's perfectly fine — but you can still find mom friends who are supportive of your parenting style.
"Of course there may come a time when styles clash a bit (maybe during play dates when children need guidance in making good choices), but as with any relationship, this is simply an opportunity to talk through how disputes may be handled effectively moving forward," Jordan says.
Basically, don't be afraid to talk about your differences in parenting styles with your mom friends in order to help support one another.
4. Shared Interests
I often find myself talking to women who I might consider to be mom friends and wondering if we have anything in common other than that we both have kids. Often times a simple conversation with another mom at my son's class party or watching our kids play on a park bench reveals that while we're both moms, we're also both people with other interests.
"It's very important to nurture and highlight the other parts of a woman's identity in motherhood. Moms go through a major shift and identity crisis when they become mothers. Maintaining previous interests can be a helpful touch point to a woman's previous life, which can serve to comfort and provide consistency," Jordan says.
So, the next time you're talking to another mom, try asking her if she likes watching baseball games while snacking on chips and queso (those are just things I love, so feel free to come up with your own questions) — you might be surprised to find that you have more in common than just having children.
Raise your hand if you have never been judged by someone for your choices as a mother. I bet many women can't honestly raise their hand. Unfortunately, in the midst of the mom-shaming culture that we live in, moms are shamed in even the most subtle of ways through off-hand comments about working, feeding, or the number of kids you have, so it's nice to have at least one mom friend who doesn't judge you at all.
"Judgement is ubiquitous in motherhood — you're going to need an ally to combat all of the negativity and needless judgement that happens for moms, from feeding choices to schooling, and beyond," Jordan says. "The more of a protective shield you can have in the form of good friends who support you in your choices, the better. Motherhood is a team sport. Choose your team wisely."
6. A Non-Competitive Attitude
Along the same lines of being non-judgemental, finding a mom friend who isn't into competing with you is crucial. In fact, just not competing with or judging other moms — whether they're your friends or not — is good advice for us all.
"Some moms may fall into the trap of comparison, then taking it a step further into competing," Jordan tells Romper. "Again, a culture of support and acceptance is necessary in motherhood, and competing simply does not fit and can cause significant damage."
7. The Ability To Prioritize
As moms, we're busy. Like, obnoxiously busy. This means we're often multitasking or pushing unimportant details aside in favor of addressing more pressing issues, but the ability to prioritize and nurture a friendship is key to maintaining a friendship with your mom friends and an important quality for a mom friend to have, according to Jordan.
"When looking for a good mom friend, it's important for both parties to have the ability and space to prioritize the friendship. Motherhood requires a lot of intentionality in planning and scheduling. Unfortunately, friendships, especially solid and supportive ones, don't just happen magically," Jordan explains. "Creating and maintaining a friendship that is worthwhile is an effortful venture, perhaps especially in motherhood. With that being said, it is also important that both parties feel committed to the equity of the friendship. Without both moms possessing the willingness to contribute to the relationship equitably, resentment may be more likely to occur."
Laura Jordan, MA, LPC, LMFT, Jordan Therapy Services