A Challenge to Friendship

Sep 12, 2013

Amazingly, a wide variety of parenting styles produce healthy adults.  But the divergence of those styles may make for disagreement with other parents.

A young mother recently described a play date with her college roommate who has a baby about the same age as hers.  Amber had long anticipated getting their babies together to play, fantasizing about introducing these little girls to a life-long friendship. 

But when the mother and baby arrived, the roommate voiced strong opinions about child-rearing, and was judgmental of Amber’s decisions.  She never dreamed that her choice to use disposable diapers, for example, would pose a challenge to this long-term friendship.

Because the way we raise our children is such a personal decision, our parenting style is often steeped in passion.  Our feelings are easily hurt when it comes to our children and any affront to our parenting choices.  Friendships that formerly sustained us may be put to the test when our parenting choices differ.

And yet, a friendship is a terrible thing to lose. So the dilemma is how to maintain friendships during these years when our parenting styles may contrast starkly from each other.  Here are a few ideas about managing this situation:

First, remind yourself you are the expert about your own child and your friend is the expert about his or hers.  Be assured there are reasons for each of you to make the choices you make.

Talk openly about why you do things the way you do, and listen when they describe their rationale.  They may enlighten you if you’re open, and they may also learn from your good ideas.

Finally, plan for time together away from the children when you can rekindle the aspects of your friendship that drew you together initially. 

Some friendships are only for a season and not for a lifetime, and this may be the case when you discover a wide gap with a former friend.  But if the tie that binds you is strong enough, it will withstand a season of disparate views about how to raise your little ones.