Do you have boundaries in your friendships? Do you feel like you need them to balance friend and family time? If so, what do those look like? If not, what guidelines or strategies do you have in place to balance the two?
Do your kids have boundaries in their friendships? Do you model boundaries for your kids? How much of those boundaries include time limits?
We’ve been conditioned to compete in almost all areas of our lives: from sports to the classroom to our job. But we cannot make motherhood a competition. That kind of competition serves no one.
And I’m going to make some bold statements against competition: You cannot think you are better than other people. You cannot think you are better than other moms. You can’t think you’re a better parent. You can’t think you are a better mom. You can’t think you’re a better friend.
There is no room for ego in genuine friendship.
It’s okay to acknowledge differences—everyone is different—just try not to make those differences a point of competition. Differences can instead be embraced and celebrated within friendships, or at the very least, mutually respected.
Write about your feelings on the following thought: Thinking you are better or less than your friend tarnishes that friendship.
Now look at your children’s friendships: how often is competition and comparison brought up within their circle of friends? If they are babies, how often are their growth charts and milestones compared? How does that serve them or you? If they are older, how important is it to them (or their friends) that something or someone is better, stronger, faster, nicer, etc. How does that serve them?
Do you ever feel insecure in your friendships? Can you think of a specific time when you did? Write about it. What do you need to feel secure in an individual friendship?
Do you feel your child feels secure in their friendships? How much of that do you think has to do with what you model? How much of that has to do with individual relationships? Time commitment? The age or stage your child is in? Etc.
What can you do to help your child feel more secure? Do you feel you need to be involved? If so, why? If not, why?
You more than likely have a reputation within your circle of friends. People know if you’re trustworthy, if you show up when you say you will show up, if you are an excuse maker, if you contribute, hostess with the mostest, etc.
But let’s have fun with it…think about your reputation in terms of tv, book, or movie characters. Who do you think you are in your circle of friends? Are you the Rachel, Ross, Joey, or Phoebe? Are you Lucy or Ethel? Thelma or Louise?
Conflict is going to how up in every relationship. Every. Single. One. Why? Because no two people are just alike. Similar, sure, but here’s hoping your circle of friends includes a very diverse group of women. Either way, every relationship has ups and downs. How comfortable are you with this idea? Write about it.
How do you approach conflict? Does it make you uncomfortable? Or are you like, “bring it on?” Maybe somewhere in the middle? Are you approachable around conflict? Awkward? Do you avoid it at all costs? Write about your conflict approach or style.
How do you help children during their conflicts with friends? Are they an instigator? How often does conflict come up for them? Do you talk with them about the fact that they will happen? Do you help them come up with a plan or strategy? Are you hands off? How do you handle conflict when other parents do or don’t get involved? Write about your child’s attitude toward conflict as well as your beliefs about their conflicts. How do you feel your approach has or will change with age?
Do you ever approach conflict in a non-judging, loving way? Do you feel like you can come together in community and say out loud that something feels uncomfortable and needs to be addressed? If so, why? If not, do you think you could ever get there or would want to get to that place?
Take a Break
Have you ever felt the need to take a break in your relationships? Have there been times when your children aren’t getting along with others and you simple pull back to see if space can help heal the situation? If so, write about it. If not, do you feel this could be an option?
Were you able to rebound from that break? Did you come back stronger? More weary? Do things different? Write about it.
When Friendships End
Have you ever ended a friendship? Write about what caused the end of that friendship. Do you ever feel like friendships from different seasons of life fade over time (because of a move, job or school change, etc.)? Do you feel like such changes need to end the friendship or simply change it? What values or causes would warrant the end of a friendship for you?
Has your child experienced a friendship ending or fading? What was it like for them?
Whew. Nice job, yayas. I know some of the topics this week weren’t that easy. I wish there were parts of life (especially in friendship) that weren’t so tough. But it’s good to know where you stand, really look at your values, what you bring to the table, your past, your hopes, all of it—so when our children come to us with questions or problems, we are able to guide them with more confidence and compassion as they maneuver the ups and downs of life and friendship. I’m proud of you! And super glad you’re part of this tribe of mamas who are putting in the work to strengthen themselves and their families!