Why is making friends so hard sometimes? I went through a season of my life where I felt like I had no friends. I had great relationships growing up, in college, and even in my post-college single days. However, after I transitioned to a stay-at-home mom and moved to the suburbs, I looked around and realized I didn’t know anyone.
I eventually met other moms with whom I could chat on the playground or other settings, but it was always small talk, and I longed for deeper connections. I looked around at other groups of women talking and laughing together and assumed they must all be best friends. Surely, they were getting together without me. I thought, “Doesn’t anybody want to hang out with me?”
I know my kids feel this same way too sometimes.
After reading a few good books and listening to several podcasts on the topic, I learned a few things about friendship. It was time not only to get busy making new friends but also to be intentional about growing the relationships I had. I was eager to teach my kids what I discovered, too, because relationships get harder as they get older and there are a few things they need to know.
In the process, I learned to:
Take ownership of my relationships.
I used to think that friendships should form organically and would grow if they were meant to. While a handful of relationships do form naturally, longevity and depth are marked by intention.
Stop looking for just anybody to like me.
Friendship cannot be merely about itself; it must be about something else. When I look back over the most rewarding friendships of my life, I recognize that at their core was a common goal, mission, or passion.
Don’t assume people should want to be my BFF.
Just because we’ve met a few times and our kids go to the same school doesn’t mean that they are a good fit for friendship. I became interested in people, asked them questions about themselves, and kept my ears open for something we had in common.
Resist the urge to chase after the people with whom I thought I should be friends.
Instead, I opened myself up to others little by little as they did to me, and now I’m happy to call those people friends. It was a simple shift in focus, but my life is the better for it.
There are so many great books about friendships to share with your children! Many books provide the perfect opportunity to discuss life lessons with your little ones and illustrate God’s Will for us to do life together in community!
My current favorite children’s picture book is Two by Two, about two mischievous monkeys who didn’t need any help becoming fast friends. God may have put them together when they entered Noah’s Ark, but they did their fair share of growing their relationship by having fun together. In this delightful board book, written by Lisa Lowe Stauffer and illustrated by Angelika Scudamore, the animals on the ark have quite an adventure when they are suddenly let loose.
I eventually established new friendships and quickly learned that one friend does not fit all. I still don’t have a “go-to” squad as I’d hoped, but instead I have circles of friends that are made up of amazing people. I have my soccer mom friends, my game night couples crew, my weekend people, my book club, and my anytime-you-want to-grab-a-coffee-after drop off friends. These relationships are well worth the effort I put into establish and maintain them.
* * *
How about you? Are you working on building friendships? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!