How to Make Friends as a Parent

Group of parents and kids

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Friendships matter, especially as a parent. Having friends who are also parents can really help navigate the choppy waters that come with raising kids.

"Quality friendships as a parent remove some of the uncertainty and self-blame that can come with this [parenting] role, moving us closer to a 'we are in this together' mindset," says Caroline Adams, MEd, LPC, a professional counselor and a podcast host with Peanut.

It can feel both comforting and validating to have friends who are available to vent or just drink coffee. But if you don't feel like you have friends like that, it can feel like you are missing out. Luckily, it is possible to find those friends! It just takes time and a little bit of effort.

Ahead, experts and parents share some ideas and suggestions on how to make lasting connections with fellow parents.

Why It Helps to Have Parent Friends

Having fellow parenting friends helps us feel less alone and more supported as we face a variety of stages and challenges with our kids. "Connecting gives us a chance to normalize ages and stages with other parents who are experiencing it," says Kelly Bos, MSW, RSW, a social worker, psychotherapist, and co-host of Talk Therapy Pod.

Kelly Bos, MSW, RSW

Connecting gives us a chance to normalize ages and stages with other parents who are experiencing it.

— Kelly Bos, MSW, RSW

Friendships can feel like a safe haven. They are a place to share support and suggestions (or sympathy and knowing looks) during those sleepless nights in the early years or when the hormones hit during adolescence. Having a friend who understands the parenting journey validates our feelings during the challenges of parenthood.

In fact, having supportive friends is associated with high life satisfaction. It is also associated with being happier. Plus, friendships can even improve your physical and mental health.

Not every friendship has to feel soul-level deep, though. Sometimes they serve a simpler purpose by making us feel like we are in the loop or part of a community.

If you feel like your friendships are surface-level (maybe you are only swapping recipes and local park secrets), that is okay. It is still a way to connect to others and feel informed. All of that can help you feel more secure in your parenting journey.

How to Make Friends as a Parent

It can feel overwhelming to start making friends, but there are simple steps you can take to make it feel more manageable. Here are some of the ways that can help you begin to make friends as a parent.

Get Involved and Be Present

"To meet other parents it is important to get involved, attend events, and be present at them," Bos says. She acknowledges this can be challenging when parents are busy juggling competing demands.

If you want to make connections, it is important to be approachable and present when there are opportunities to connect. "The more we can slow down our schedules the better," says Bos. "This gives [us] room to be present on the sidelines or in the parking lot and allows the chance to connect on common interests with other parents."

Bos suggests putting away your phone during functions or other activities (think school plays, sports games, or PTA meetings) so you are open to opportunities to connect with parents around you.

Kelly Bos, MSW, RSW

[Slowing down our schedules] gives [us] room to be present on the sidelines or in the parking lot and allows the chance to connect on common interests with other parents.

— Kelly Bos, MSW, RSW

Bond Over Shared Interests

Adams says one of the best ways to make friendships as a parent is to connect with other people that share in your interests and values. "If you value exercise or being outdoors, try joining a workout or hiking group for parents," Adams says. "Or, if you value philanthropy or volunteerism, choose a group project that is child-friendly and look for an opportunity to connect with other parents."

Leah Aftab, a mom of five, says she has met some of her best friends at baby groups and through joining the school's PTA.

It can also be important to find parents who understand your specific struggles. Aftab also recently realized she could really benefit from some friends whose children face the same medical challenges as one of her sons.

"I feel like I need someone who understands not only mom life but sick kid mom life," Aftab says. "I’ve recently been trying to get friendly with some of the moms in the doctor's waiting room because on these specific visits we are all there for our children with the same medical problem."

Leah Aftab, mom of five

Unfortunately it is a bit like dating. Some are a good match, some are nice but you want to keep it casual, and others just don’t work out.

— Leah Aftab, mom of five

Remember, it can take some trial and error! "Unfortunately it is a bit like dating," Aftab says. "Some are a good match, some are nice but you want to keep it casual, and others just don’t work out."

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

When it comes to meeting new friends, it is important to take risks and reach out, Bos emphasizes. "It might feel like you are the only one needing a social network but often when you reach out to other parents they are happy to make connections, too," Bos says.

Patricia Septon, a mom of two, says it took a few years (and a push outside her comfort zone) to find a group of "mom friends." While the parents in her rural community are very friendly, they are often in well-established, longtime friendship groups. There have been times when she felt a bit on the outside looking in.

When she noticed a few other moms at her son's hockey practice sitting alone in the stands, Septon knew she wanted to meet them. Despite some nerves, Septon started chatting with these moms and soon realized they were happy to hang out.

Patricia Septon, mom of two

Their friendship has enriched my life and given me a confidence boost I didn't know I needed.

— Patricia Septon, mom of two

It wasn't long before they began sitting together which led to coffee playdates and group chats. "Their friendship has enriched my life and given me a confidence boost I didn't know I needed," Septon says.

Look Online

Everyone is online these days, which makes for even more opportunities for connection. Try joining a local Facebook group for parents in your area. You can also check out an interest group organization like Meetup.

You can even head to apps. Peanut enables parents to sort of browse, select, and connect with potential parent friends based on their profiles. Bumble BFF has a similar function, allowing you to chat with matches in the app.

This can make it easier for busy parents to seek out friendships. The key is to put yourself out there and be open to new experiences.

A Word From Verywell

When it comes to making friends, sometimes it takes a bit of effort and time. But remember, once you get established, your friendships should feel supportive and comfortable. If spending time with fellow parents leaves you feeling less than or uneasy, you may not have found quite the right fit just yet. Staying open to new connections can help you find supportive, lasting friendships.

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2 Sources
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