Right from the start I want to say that I hesitated writing this piece about mom friendships from a negative viewpoint. “Oh, yes, let’s look at a few more things we’re doing wrong in life. Just what we need. Thanks.” You and I both know we don’t need more guilt. We’re experts at guilt.
But if you’ll stick with me, you’ll see why it’s so important to keep reading. Sometimes we skate through our friendships thinking all is well. When truthfully, there are ways we can make them even better. There might even be some things we’re doing to hurt our friendships. Maybe we have really great friends who’ll stick by us no matter what. Yay, us! But don’t we want to be the best sort of friends we can be?
If I had titled this post, 7 Ways You’re a Really Awesome Friend, we all might have skimmed right by and never stopped to read. But a title like this? We’re gonna stop.
Why? Well, my theory is that we don’t often think about the things we might be doing to push our loved ones away. We spend a bit (a lot) more time thinking about the ways they’re pushing us away. Ahem. We can be selfish at times. Chin up. It’s okay, we’re all in this together.
I think we’d all agree that we want to keep our valued friendships in a healthy spot, so let’s take a look at the things we might be doing to harm them.
1. Compare your kid to hers. If there’s one sure-fire way to create a separation in friendship with other moms, it’s to compare kids. No matter the age or stage, let’s not compare whose child is walking first, has no cavities again, or passed their driver’s test after the first try. Just no.
2. Make body-talk a major topic of discussion. It doesn’t matter if you’re underhandedly bragging about your body, putting your body down, or simply comparing yours with hers, it’s awkward. Let’s stop. Pregnant or not, we are made as individuals. We were never intended to look the same. Do your friendships a favor and let it rest so you can focus on life-giving conversation that really matters.
3. Discipline or lecture her kids. If you’re ever tempted to correct a friend’s kids when she’s standing right there, let her handle it. Let’s not push in here. We have authority over and are accountable for our kids. She has authority over and is accountable for hers. God set it up this way for good reason. Practicing authority over her kids when it hasn’t been given to you is never a good idea.
4. Make it all about you and your preferences. If you want to push your mom friends (or any friend) away, make what you want the most important thing. If you want true and sacred friendships? Sacrificial love all the way. Our friends have preferences too. Let’s take the time to figure out what they are, and seek to serve them. “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10)
5. Act as if your way of mothering is superior to hers OR act as if yours stinks and she’s the Queen of Mothering. Both are harmful. They don’t unite, they only separate. It’s awkward both ways. Let’s view each other as equals and joint heirs of God’s kingdom instead.
6. Be uninterested in her life and what she has to say. In friendship, conversation is one of the greatest tools to build a strong foundation. But sometimes, without even realizing we do it, we let our stories, our opinions, and our topics take over. I’m embarrassed to say how many times I’ve struggled with this. To grow and maintain healthy friendships, let’s be the kind of friends who ask questions and then truly listen without tying what she says to ourselves. Be interested in her life by listening to her. So often we jump in to add a “me too” or “guess what?” right before the conversation goes deeper. Give her space to talk. Good friend bonus tip: Remember what she’s shared with you and check in about it from time to time.
7. Make her feel negligent based on what she chooses or abstains from for her kids. I’m talking sports, vaccinations, food choices, music lessons, activities, schooling, etc. Maybe you think your friend is putting her kids in too many activities. Or maybe you disagree with her choice to vaccinate. Remember, you are not accountable for the choices she makes for her kids. Trust that your friend and her family are making an informed decision led by God. If she asks what you think, you’ll have a chance to share your thoughts in a polite and godly manner. Otherwise? Love her, love her, love her.
8. Always let her be the one who calls, texts, and initiates time together. This is one I’ve really had to get intentional about. There are nine other people living in my home who need me. Sometimes it’s hard to think outside the four walls of my home to initiate contact with my friends because everyday life is so full. But I do it because I love my friends and want them to know I’m thinking of them. Plus, life is full for all of us. If all of us kept to ourselves, there’d be no friendship. And that’s a sad, sad thing. And when a friend contacts me? I thank them because I know how much work it takes to make happen.
9. Hold on to past relational hurts. If your friend has hurt you in the past, forgive her. There is nothing a friend could do that is unworthy of our forgiveness. Ask Jesus. He knows.
10. Share her secrets. “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.” (Proverbs 11:13) A friend needs to know she is safe with you. Show her she is by how you handle the confidences she entrusts to you. A practice I use is to ask (when the topic is appropriate), “Is this something I can share with Jeremy?” Showing her that I value and will safeguard her secrets, unless she agrees I can share it with my husband so we can pray together about it.
There we go. It’s a bit overwhelming, I agree. Let’s not be overwhelmed, but instead prayerfully ask the Lord what He’d have us focus on to improve the friendships He’s given us. Father, help us be the kind of friends you intended all along. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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