It's easy to gravitate towards people of similar interest, but it's good to add a bit of variety into your life.
When you enter the world of parenthood it is natural to gravitate more towards certain kinds of people.
It’s nothing personal but finding yourself spending more time with friends
who already have children might just make more sense, for example.
You have a ready and willing partner in crime for a Sunday morning park date while the rest of your pals may still be wearing last night’s make-up. Different life stages will lead to different lifestyle choices, and sometimes it’s just a practical thing.
The same can be said for new friendships formed when you have a baby. You might get chatting to someone in the doctor’s office or at a PHN appointment for example. You may strike common ground with someone at a breastfeeding
support group and find yourself swapping numbers to arrange a “play date”. The kids are seven weeks old so the play date is really for you.
The prospect of drinking coffee and eating cake with another mum who is going through the same thing is super exciting. It’s nice to spend time with someone who can relate to the life you are living right now.
As new friendships develop you might find yourself a little tribe of sorts. It might seem easier to spend time with people who do things the way you do because you can then seek advice, bounce ideas and generally talk openly knowing that the other person can relate.
This might be regarding issues of feeding, baby sleep and the more emotional choices we make during our parenting journey. It makes a lot of sense. But that does not take the value away from potential friendships with people who might parent very differently.
Developing and nurturing friendships with people who parent differently is actually a very healthy thing for a lot of reasons.
You might find it harder to meet these people naturally due to the kind of social circles you associate yourself with though. But what if they are people already present in your life?
It could be a close friend, cousin or neighbour, for example. Parenthood tends to naturally connect people and when some of these people become parents you might just find a powerful connection with them. A friendship may develop purely because you are both now parents. If they choose to parent a little differently from you it is probably not a good reason to resist any mode of connection or friendship. You’re still parents finding your way in this brand new mode of reality.
Parenting can be a lonely experience, particularly at the beginning. It can feel as though you don’t belong in your old life but haven’t quite figured out the new one either. When someone reaches out to you it can make all the difference. That person might be feeding their baby differently and may have an opposing view when it comes to sleep training but they still deserve a friendly chat from time to time.
It is a good thing to have friends who parent differently because the world is a very varied place. Interacting with people who have different parenting styles could actually be refreshing in many ways. Sometimes seeing another perspective helps us to understand our own better.
It also gives us permission to change that perspective if we see fit. And perhaps more importantly – friendships won’t always be steeped in all things parenting.
You might have a really close bond with a person who parents differently to you but your relationship is with that individual and not their parenting style.
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.