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Seeking Family Friends to Build a Support Network

Seeking Family Friends to Build a Support Network

By Rachel Meeks

I have a vision of ten years from now, when my daughter is in junior high, that I’ll know her good friends from school and I’ll know those friends’ parents as well, and we’ll get together and be happy about this group of girls and boys who have been close-knit friends since kindergarten.

It’s more like a wish, but I can’t help but try to plan and find ways to support that happening.

I think about it when I’m washing dishes; I make plans to invite other parents over to my house so we can know each other and be a part of our children’s growing good friendships. It would also be good for developing friendships of our own.

My family moved to our city a few months ago, and we’ve been making friends in the neighborhood. I stop after school and spend a few minutes visiting while the kids run around and chase each other and get their energy out before we go home. Those few minutes are an easy way to connect.

We need family friends, and we’re starting on the long road of cultivating long-term, local friendships. I know it’s possible that we’ll move in the coming years, and more likely that the friends we make now will also move, but it’s worth trying and making the effort.

When I was in high school, my friends and I were more likely to stay out of “compromising situations” if our parents would chat with each other. That created accountability. I got into significantly more trouble with my friends from families my parents didn’t know.

My husband grew up in a small town that had only a handful of minimum-wage jobs. If you wanted to get one of those sought-after jobs, you had to be known as a hard worker. Your reputation was critical. There were no restaurants or retail stores who only knew you from your one-page application. Everyone knew if you worked hard or not because they had watched you grow up in that small town for your whole life. It was accountability.

While I’m pleased about the idea of having a network to keep our kids accountable, I am even more excited about the potential of having a network for support for these kids and for the grownups. I want them to be really comfortable at my house. I want them to drop by unexpectedly and eat all my snacks. I want my home to be a safe place where they can really talk, and they can call us if they need us.

So that’s my plan. I’m working on making it happen.

Have you done this? Did it work out as you hoped? I wonder if I’m being hopefully optimistic, but I still think it can work.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

About the Author

Rachel Meeks

Rachel Meeks is the voice behind the popular blog Small Notebook, a resource for simplifying and organizing your home. (Because it’s so much easier to b...

Rachel Meeks is the voice behind the popular blog Small Notebook, a resource for simplifying and organizing your home. (Because it’s so much easier to be a parent when you’re not surrounded by a ton of stuff.)

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  • Kari e

    January 3, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Your post really resonates with me.  We moved a year and a half ago, and have been trying to cultivate friendships ever since.  Our children aren’t yet school age and we’re struggling to find parents with similar interests to ours.  I’m hoping someone can comment with ideas And experience in doing this.  

  • Erin

    January 3, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Ah, wistful sigh…

    I really want this for my kids and myself and husband too. We moved to a new city 5 yrs ago and our first son is almost 2 yrs old (second one on the way). I haven’t built a network of friends yet, but I strongly desire one. I have tried some Meetup groups but not found our niche. We are friends with one neighbor but our neighborhood is mostly single people w/out kids. Have thought about joining the UU church…?

  • Zoë

    January 3, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    We moved 4.5 years ago and still have no network of friends even though our eldest is in school. Unfortunately, we moved to a small, rural town (population = 18,000) that does not welcome newcomers (confirmed by other sources too). Most of the residents are born and raised here, and come back after college. They already have a network of family and friends, and don’t feel the need to add to it. It probably doesn’t help that we do not go to church, and this town has a church on every corner. Add that to the fact that parents do not hang out at the school “gates”, waiting for their kids, but stay in their cars for drop-off and pick-up, so you never get to just chat with others. Small town life was nothing like we had imagined. So now we are preparing to look for jobs elsewhere and move to a bigger town or city (preferably a college town), with a more diverse population and opportunities to meet others. I hope everyone else has better luck.

  • Isabel


    January 4, 2012 at 9:04 am

    i am sorry to hear that you guys have been having a hard time finding family friendships in your communities.

    i live in nyc (where i grew up) and when my son was a newborn, i was shocked to find myself lonely and isolated. i did join some moms groups and after a few attempts made some friendships that are still strong til this day, eight years later.

    once my son started school, volunteering at school is how i made friends. when you’re doing drop-off or pick-up, moms and dads are into their own worlds. i found that time spent volunteering (or during playdates) is really when you get to know them. at first i volunteered as i wanted to model this behavior for my son and i have to tell you, i was pleasantly surprised at how rewarding it is.

  • Emily

    January 4, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    We’re military and we move a lot. It’s hard and I know the friends I make now are not going to be the friends I have in 5 years because we’ll be in different places. But, I have found basic persistence to be the key. I just put myself out there and go to all the playgroups I can find. At first it was very discouraging and I wanted to cry. Then, people started noticing that we were there more and friendships were made. I now have 1 good friend that I really enjoy who lives nearby. Sometimes all we can do is meet at the park for 30 minutes and rush through the events of the days while kid wrangling, but it’s something 🙂 @zoe, I totally get that. When I moved after college, I lived in a county that had a grand total of 1500 people. It took quite a bit of effort to make friends, but I’ll tell you – when you finally make that connection in a small town – it does pay off – they will do anything for you. Trust me, there are some residents that are tired of the people that they have known their entire lives and would happily be your friend if they knew you wanted it. You just have to go to the town basketball games, football games, etc (even though your kid isn’t in high school yet). You have to be there and your kid start playing under the bleachers (or whatever) with the other kids. Good luck!

  • Marla

    January 6, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Agreed, persistence is the key. Although it takes a little bit of work we have also started Finger Food Friday. We send out an email invite to all those families (playdate friends, volunteer friends etc) to stop by after work and end the week with some social time. Kids get to play and parents get a chance to chat. Everything is casual. food is whatever you might grab quick after work on a Friday: typically from the deli or frozen food section 🙂