I’m sure I do not have to tell you that becoming a parent changes a lot of things. Some things are obvious. Some hit you a few months into it. Some you realize after years.
One of the biggest changes I’ve been noticing in recent years is friendships. Yes, its harder to make friends when you’re a mom. Blah blah blah. That’s not what I mean, necessarily. I’m talking about losing friendships.
I don’t know about you, but my friends become integral parts of my children’s lives. Probably because, as a mom of four, there really isn’t a way to “hang out” without at least one of them there.
Some friendships just don’t last forever, thats a natural part of life. You drift apart, go through a busy phase. Sometimes you meet up again later in life; sometimes you do not. I’ve had friendships that have lasted around 7 years just fizzle.
Before I had kids, it was tough, sure. Since having kids, its been heartbreaking! I have not experienced anything as tough as trying to explain why “so and so” doesn’t come by to hang out anymore. I, seriously, would rather have to break the news that someone died, before having to tiptoe around why someone suddenly refuses to say, “Hi,” when they see us in the grocery store.
I have not found a good surefire way to break this kind of news, but I do have some tips.
1. Deal with the loss yourself first. Come to grips with it, accept it, then explain it to your child. This helps you control your wording a bit more. If you haven’t fully processed what happened, do not try dumping all of that confusion on your little one.
2. Don’t be afraid to let them see you cry. This is especially true if they start crying. Cry with them. They need to know that it is okay to be sad and that you are going to miss that friendship just as much as they will.
3. Try to stay away from going negative. Be truthful, but do not go into a diatribe of how worthless and stupid this friend was, no matter how tempting that may be. You never know what the future may hold. That friendship might mend someday, but your child will never forget those terrible things you’ve said. Even if you hold no hope of mending the relationship, don’t go negative. This teaches them that it is okay to talk nasty behind people’s backs.
4. If this was a long relationship or a friendship with a family member, remind them that this friend still loves them and it is okay if they still love that friend. Kids have a tendency to internalize in a way that doesn’t make sense to us as adults. Even though we probably did the same thing when we were young. They need to know that friend doesn’t have a problem with them and not to take it personally.
It is still one of the hardest conversations to have, and I do suggest having it. Unless they are 5 or younger do not just wait until they notice and ask about it. It’s a much easier conversation when you control the atmosphere and timing.