How to Navigate Awkward Moments in Mom Friendships

mom friendships

As moms, we all do our best to teach our little ones how to make friends and form healthy and hopefully lasting friendships. We also teach them how to handle the inevitable ups and downs that can occur amongst friends. But what about us?

Our motherhood journeys can feel lonely or isolating at times, and having “mom friendships” are an important part of feeling supported and less alone. But just like our children, our friendships aren’t immune to bumps in the road or some awkward, cringey moments. So, what’s a mom to do when things feel a little weird?

Because we so firmly believe that mom friendships can make the world go ‘round, we spoke to two mental health experts—Kristi Caporoso, MSW, LCSW and Tugba Guven, LCSW—for their expert tips on navigating some awkward moments in mom friendships.


Making the First Move

Before you experience an awkward mom friend moment, first you need to have actual mom friends. The truth is, everyone needs a friend. And even though we’re all adults, making the first move can be hard!

“Navigating adult friendships can be hard due to several reasons, while the lack of adult friendships can cause one to feel lonely and isolated,” Guven said.  “It is totally normal for one to long for these types of relational connections.”

Caporoso agreed, acknowledging that making friends as an adult can be difficult, “because most of us are much more set in our ways than when we were kids. We know what we like and what we are willing to tolerate, and tend to have less patience if someone doesn’t gel with us right away.”

So when someone is gelling with you and you want to transition from the acquaintance zone at the playground to the friend zone, what do you do? Make the first move. 

“Acknowledging the awkwardness of a situation can actually break the ice,” said Caporoso.  She explained, “Being the first one to reach out can feel terrifying, but the fellow mom you reach out to may be so relieved that you made the first move that your nervous laughter or perceived awkwardness totally goes unnoticed.” 

Worst case scenario? You don’t vibe as much as you had anticipated, and that’s perfectly OK.


When the Kids Aren’t Getting Along

Kids can be unpredictable. One day they love PB&J, one day they hate it. One day Johnny is their best friend, the next day they don’t want to play anymore. In older kids, maybe there’s an argument or rift happening between your child and their friend—but that doesn’t mean it has to occur within the parental friendships.

Instead of tiptoeing around the issue, bring it up in your next conversation, and let your friend know that, while your kids might not be getting along right now, you’re still hoping to maintain a friendship with her separate from your children’s activities or playdates. Chances are, she will feel relieved and share your sentiments. If not, or if the situation between your children is more severe or complicated, navigate it the best way you see fit.  You’ll know what’s right in your gut.


busy mom

Source: Sarah Chai | Pexels


When You Knew Her Way Back When

Imagine your child constantly talking about their new friend “Jessica” and asking to play at her house, only to suddenly realize that *gasp* you knew Jessica’s mom in high school, and maybe weren’t her biggest fan back in the day.  Or, maybe you never really got along. 

Do you ask your partner to handle drop-off for that playdate or do you confront the situation head-on? 

Embrace it. Do what you’d want your child to do, and give the person the benefit of the doubt that they’ve changed in the years since high school—because if nothing else, motherhood changes you. Right?

Caporoso said it’s really important to keep an open mind. “Remember, people have many parts and the part you see first isn’t always the whole story. Channel some of your kids’ energy when you’re making and maintaining friendships—curiosity, openness, flexibility. We can learn a lot from them in that sense.”


When Your Calendars Are Full

There’s no tired like “mom tired” and no busy like “mom busy.” But as you’ve probably heard a hundred times, making time for yourself is an essential component of being a happy, healthy parent. And part of making time for yourself is nurturing the relationships that make you feel fulfilled and secure.

Guven said that one of the most difficult aspects of adult friendships is trying to find the time to get together when your schedules and obligations can be conflicting. She recommended, “think about a consistent day, once a month or even every other month, that would work for the both of you to meet up for an activity or to simply catch up for coffee.” Even just a little bit of Facetime can go a long way with friendships. 

Oh, and when you do get together, try to make sure there’s some kid-free time, too. While your children and their activities may be what brought you together, your friendship can (and should!) exist outside of the playground or dance class lobby too. Remember, while what you have most in common is that you are moms, you’re also people with your own identities, interests, and hobbies, too!

Not All Mom Friendships Are Created Equal—And That’s OK
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