From work friends to childhood friends, your circle is likely filled with people who you met in different phases of life. But in the parenting stage of life, finding someone who can relate to what you're going through is crucial — that's why mom friends are important to have.
"Motherhood is a huge life transition. As with other major life transitions, it is important to find support," licensed clinical social worker and certified perinatal mental health clinician Jamie Kreiter tells Romper.
Friendships come in all shapes and sizes, but mom friends are particularly special. They're the ones you lean on when you've been up all night with a newborn and have no idea how you'll get through the day. Then later, they're who you call when you're fighting yet another battle with your preteen. In short, they're priceless.
"Motherhood is like this exclusive club that women are desperate to join, but sometimes once a woman is there she finds that she is totally alone," Kreiter tells Romper. "It is important to change this isolation that often accompanies motherhood. Finding friends that could provide support, and not judge or shame, is important to a mother’s mental health and the overall health of her family."
The Benefits Of Having Mom Friends
"Friendship is a lifeline, a life preserver, a reprieve from the challenging, the lonely, the isolating," Psychotherapist Perri Shaw Borish tells Romper. "The laughter and bonding that can happen between two mothers — especially mothers who are willing to be vulnerable with each other and authentic about what's hard, scary, funny about mothering — that can be sustenance and healing."
Even if you're not super close with them, having a mom friend who can relate to what you're going through is so important. You may not have been each other's bridesmaids, but you can definitely vent to each other about the obnoxious amount of homework your third grader has had this week. A mom friend is simply someone who "gets it" when you talk about parenting.
"Having other moms in your corner during this challenging developmental life stage is crucial," maternal mental health specialist Laura Jordan tells Romper. "To know that others are experiencing challenges similar to you is very normalizing, which feels so validating and connecting. This is especially important during a time that can feel so isolated and lonely."
When it comes to cultivating strong motherhood bonds, Kreiter says, "Moms should look for a mom friend who is non-judgmental and supportive, as well as open and honest." But by the same token, she explains that to keep things authentic, "moms should look for qualities in other moms that they would typically drawn to in other friendships."
There Are Different Types Of Mom Friends
Different ages and stages of your kids can also see mom friends come and go, and even then, different mom friends will fill different roles at different times. Because a lot of my lifelong friends have kids that are younger than mine, I usually fill the role of the "been there, done that" mom friend for them. Likewise, some of the mom friends that I've made through my kids being in school, but who have kids older than mine, play this role for me.
"There is so much about motherhood that is shared experience and that can resonate with another mother — regardless of the ages of their children," Borish says. "I have found the most holistic friendships I have are with other mothers who I can both laugh with and cry with and with whom can respond when I ask them to fulfill an emotional need on, for example, a challenging day."
Another important aspect of having mom friends is having people in your corner who can help support you through the ugly parts of motherhood. "This life phase is chock-full of judgment from others, from breastfeeding/bottle-feeding debates to sleep training, everyone seems to have an opinion that can be experienced as rather critical," Jordan says. "In order to combat the external judgments that come along with this time, it is wise to surround yourself with supportive, caring, and compassionate friends."
How To Find Mom Friends
You've probably heard that raising kids takes a village. But, where do you find that village and who are the villagers?
Because I had my kids fairly young, many of my existing friends didn't have their own kids for several years after I had mine. So, I know first-hand what it's like to have to actually seek out mom friends, and it's definitely not as easy as it sounds. It's a little more nuanced than just walking up to a mom pushing a stroller at the park and just saying, "Hey, wanna be friends?" but just sparking a random conversation with other moms you see (online works, too!) is actually a good starting point.
"In light of the pandemic, it may be harder to meet other moms in traditional settings such as through baby classes and playgroups," Kreiter says. "But moms should still get creative about how they can connect with other moms, such as by finding virtual playgroups and support groups, joining motherhood apps such as SocialMama, or other online communities such as Motherfigure. If a mom is struggling, professional support such as therapy; is available and can help mothers feel more connected and less alone."
It's been my personal experience that most moms are genuinely seeking the same kind of connection that I am — someone to talk about the trials and tribulations of motherhood with. Even moms who I thought already had a tight circle of mom friends on tap have been really receptive to chatting about parenting and life with me. So, reach out. You never know what type of mom-friendship may blossom.
Jamie Kreiter, LCSW, PMH-C, founder of Nurture Therapy in Chicago, IL, an adviser to Motherfigure
Perri Shaw Borish, psychotherapist, founder Whole Heart Maternal Mental Health
Laura Jordan, M.A., LPC, LMFT, licensed professional counselor and marriage and family therapist at Jordan Therapy Services