By Dr. Cara Gardenswartz
Group Therapy Los Angeles
Once women become mothers, their need for new types of friendships is extremely important. Ongoing friendships with married and single friends without children remain important to mothers, but they now need mothers to “bond with” about parenting issues such as child rearing, balancing work and motherhood, being stay-at-home moms, and the impact of their bonds with their children on their relationship with their spouse/partner.
Mothers have less time to spend with friends given their exciting, but also hectic and time consuming obligations of being a mother- so they have to choose who to engage with during their limited social opportunities. Though they may care about and value their long-term friendships, they may have less in common with those friends, and also choose being around mothers who “get them” over spending time with friends who can’t fully relate to this new stage of their life. Also, their friends without children might be bored about hearing about breastfeeding, parenting and so on. So the thinning of the ties to such friends might be mutual.
Whether it’s a mommy and me group, play dates at a park (when the moms can chat while the kids play), mommy friendships are critical for sanity, sharing and support. Parents often connect with moms who have children the same age, because each stage of mommy hood brings up new and unique issues. For instance, when one mom is focused on breast feeding, another mom may be focused on elementary school challenges. In order to meet moms with children of approximately the same age, parenting or mommy and me groups (e.g., an exceptional one led by Betsy Braun Brown in the Pacific Palisades; parentingpathways.com) give moms opportunities to bond, share similar issues, learn from each other (and the group leader) and embark on long-lasting friendships. There are support groups such as Mom’s Club of Los Angeles, where moms can connect through engaging in various activities with the kids (e.g., going to a museum) and also have “mom’s nights out”. Whether through mommy and me, or playgroups, mothers benefit by communicating about their feelings, insights, questions and mentoring other mothers.
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