I knew when I had kids that I would be dealing with the building and deconstruction of their friendships for the long term. Why on earth didn’t it occur to me that I’d also be dealing with my own relationships with the other children’s parents and caregivers?  

If it was just one thinggrowing a friendship with said child’s parents because our kids are friendsthat would be easy enough. It’s not just one thing. The combination of scenarios is plentiful. Maybe I like a parent, but they don’t seem to like me. Maybe a parent is trying to befriend me, but I’m not particularly fond of them. Maybe I like the other parent, but don’t particularly trust them enough to leave my child in their care. The list goes on. 

Another difficulty is when the kids suddenly have a falling out. This happened to us recently. Our fourth-grade daughter became “best friends” with a boy our family just adores. They were together every weekend and talked on the phone almost every night. In just a few short months, this little one became like a member of the family. He was always around, and we didn’t mind it at all. We became good friends with his parents and spoke often.

RELATED: I’m So Glad Our Kids Are Friends, Too

From one day to the next, our daughter and this friend got into a friendship-ending argument. Just like that, he isn’t around anymore. The relationship I had with his parents, which was very comfortable just a week ago, is now painfully awkward.  

Aside from the relationship with other parents is the difficulty of aligning parenting styles for playdates. Some parents feel the same way we do about rules and guidance while others feel the complete opposite. For example, we don’t let our children ride their bikes unattended on the busy street near our house. On a playdate a few days ago, we learned our daughter went for a ride with the neighborhood kids on the busy street. The friend’s parents let their daughter do it all the time and didn’t know we weren’t okay with it. Usually, important information like allergies is relayed before kids are left in someone else’s care, but we surely don’t go over every preference and rule we have at drop-off.  

Our children are 7 and 10 years old. So far, we have dealt with each of the scenarios listed above. How I’ve dealt with each situation has been dependent on the actions and reactions of the other parent. There are some relationships with fellow parents that have lasted years, even after our kids have lost touch or ended their friendship. There are some relationships that just completely fell off the map, whether our kids stayed friends or not. There are some relationships that are very transactional, and we only communicate about the logistics of playdates.  

The relationships that you make with other parents are influenced by your end goal. Would you like to build relationships with other parents, or would you rather keep communication with other parents only child-related? Whatever choice you make, there is plenty of useful information out there relating to parent friendships.  

RELATED: Maintaining Friendships After Kids Can Be So Hard

The New York Times relayed an awesome article in 2020 about making friends with other parents. Among the techniques for finding fellow friendship-seeking parents included: embracing online parenting groups, looking for events and opportunities close to home, and hosting a playdate outside of your home. If you are an introvert (like me!) embracing the online parent groups is a good place to start while building up to a face-to-face meetup.  

If you’re on the opposite side of the fence and hope to build friendships for your child but not for yourself, that’s fine too. It doesn’t make you a bad person if you want to set those boundaries. I was surprised to find a plethora of research on this matter. I found a brilliant article that had great tips such as: have your spouse help you with excuses for why you can’t mingle, donate money to avoid joining parenting groups, and seeking out other antisocial parents. The last suggestion sounds kind of confusing. The example they used is to find the parents who are on their phones instead of engaged in conversation. Plant yourself near them.  

While some parent/fellow parent relationships are effortless (I’m talking to you, Jasmine!), others are strenuous and exhausting. Don’t be afraid to listen to your gut and set boundaries. We can still foster our kiddos’ relationships without adding more relationships to our already heavy parenting load.  

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Stephanie McCoy

My name is Stephanie McCoy. I enjoy writing articles relating to parenting and education. I am a mother to two young kiddos, Harper and Atticus. I have a Master's in Education and many years of experience in Early Childhood Development. 

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