This is a common complaint from mothers who feel that joining a new playgroup can bring on the social anxieties of their teenage years. Wondering if the moms in an established mom group will like and accept them can create worry and bring up feelings of inadequacy. Inviting mommy friends for a playdate or coffee without kids can feel as awkward as asking a stranger out on a date.
It can be very hurtful if that mom never replies or keeps cancelling on your plans to meet up. Some moms cope with this fear of being socially rejected by avoiding group playdates or being very aloof and disconnected when with other moms.
Some of the obstacles moms describe to making new friends include lack of time, feeling nervous in social situations, transportation issues, afraid the baby or child will cry and misbehave or afraid that she will be judged to be a bad mom.
Looking after kids and juggling other responsibilities can be so time consuming and intense that going on social dates with other moms may feel too overwhelming.
On the other hand, I have heard many stories of women going to mommy groups hoping they will meet someone like-minded with potential for a deeper connection. Walking away from those “dates” with no hint of friendship in sight can be disappointing and make you wonder if it’s worth the effort. I remember moving abroad to a new country with my 18 month old and very purposefully trying to find like-minded New Mommy Friends. In one of those groups I persisted for over 6 months even though every time I attended the meet-up with my toddler I felt deflated, judged and disconnected from the other moms.
The reality is that, for some women, making New Mommy Friends is more about finding playmates for the children than it is about making a connection with the other parent. Some women have an established circle of friends and then stop pursuing or allowing new mommy friends to “join in” as it then becomes yet another friendship to maintain.
What is the recipe for a New Mommy Friendship?
Is it the number of kids, parenting styles, lifestyle choices or personality? It is all about where you live and the more time you spend together, the closer you get? Is it because you share the same religious and political views?
There is no straightforward recipe when it comes to making good friends with other moms.
The issues of language, culture, race, socio-economic status cannot be ignored. If a potential friend likes to bond over high fashion shopping followed by an expensive lunch while you are trying to make ends meet, it is probably not a long-lasting combination. Parenting styles and values can also bring you closer to women who adopt similar styles to your own.
But what to make of the huge success prenatal classes have in bonding women to each other?
I made some wonderful friends during those classes and we were such a mixed bunch of people. Going through the same stage of life, sharing in the learning, the anxiety, the highs and the lows of pregnancy, giving birth and figuring out how to be a mother can be a powerful recipe for long-lasting friendship.
Spending heaps of time together also helps get to know other moms and create more opportunities for disclosure, showing vulnerability and accepting support and advice.
Sharing something personal and vulnerable about yourself and your life is an invitation to the other person to do the same and create a friendship. If the conversation stays superficial over time, it is unlikely to grow into anything more meaningful than social playdates.
So put yourself out there, it is worth the hassle in the long run as we need each other’s support to be at our best.
The MumRadar App can help you with this as it was born out of desire to help connect mothers to each other, a “Tinder for moms” if you like. So see who lives near you and take that first step by sending a message. It may just take you a step closer to making a New Mommy Friend Forever.
About the Writer
Silvia Wetherell, Co-Founder of MumRadar, works as a counsellor and psychotherapist in an obstetric setting and has a special interest in maternal mental health. Originally from Portugal, she spent ten years in England and is now based in Singapore with her husband and two young children. Silvia is also a Postpartum Support International Coordinator and Co-founder of the support group Mindful Mums.
Silvia has the loudest laugh, loves swimming in the ocean and snuggling on the sofa with her two cats, Jaffa and Freddie.