New academic year = new friends. Not just for the kids, but for the parents, too.
Every September a new grade, or even a new school, brings us close to a new set of people who are, on paper, so much like us. They have children the same age as ours, and they are enduring and/or enjoying similar developmental joys and challenges in their families.
But parents, like their kids, are a giant mix of personalities. With some we fit naturally (hello boozy class cocktail parties) and some we don’t (advice: Forget to wear glasses to school drop off, the easier to participate in eye contact avoidance).
How often are these connections and disconnects based on parenting styles? How much do our judgements on parenting play into our feelings?
Eliana Osborn, a contributing writer for the Imperfect Parent Web site, explains in an essay on that site that she un-friended two of her closest female friends after she witnessed what she considered lazy parenting.
She writes: “Is it possible to stay friends with women when you can’t stand how they raise their kids? I like a lot of things about both Monica and Kathy. If I didn’t, this wouldn’t even be an issue. As women, I want to be friends. As mothers, I don’t want to be anywhere near them.”
Her own answer is no.
“I don’t respect people who don’t take parenting seriously. This is the biggest deal out there. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but at least I’m trying. If you want to be my friend and you’ve got kids, it turns out I have some requirements.
“What it comes down to is this: you have to be the adult. That doesn’t mean you get it right every time. It means you don’t let your kids boss you around, hit you, defy you, at every turn.
If that isn’t your vision of how you want things to be with your kids, then I guess we aren’t going to be able to hang out. I’m sorry.”
— From “Can You Be Friends With a Bad Mom?”
Her piece concerns old friends. What about new friends? How quickly do we discount the potential new friends when we see an interaction with their child that we don’t like? On the other hand, are we more open to those we might not have befriended if we come to see them as exemplary parents?
I know I am drawn to parents who exude happiness in their child’s presence. It’s as if their positivity bolsters my own experience. The flip side is probably true, too. I tend to avoid negativity as if it was contagious. Most of all, though, I enjoy being around other parents whose flaws match my own.
How about you? Do parenting abilities or outlook factor into your friendships?