When we first moved into our new house, we had very few friends that lived near us. We had moved away from many of our old friends and, since we had one young child and another one just about to arrive, the prospect of building new friendships at that moment seemed pretty daunting alongside all of the other responsibilities on our plate.
Even though we’ve met other people through community participation and other events, our best successes at building new friendships since our move was to simply attempt to build friendships with the parents of the friends of our children.
In fact, we’re actually spending most of the day today with parents of one of our children’s friends.
There are a few reasons I think this has been successful.
First, our children seem to pick interesting friends. The handful of kids that our children have bonded with outside of our family have almost entirely been thoughtful children who come from interesting backgrounds. Almost always, these children have come from families with parents that are already primed to click with us.
Second, we don’t have to become pals with the parents of every friend of our children. It just serves as a convenient first selection mechanism. Sometimes, we don’t click at all with the parents of one of our children’s friends.
Third, it’s incredibly convenient to build these friendships. Inviting over another family in which their children are already friends of our children means our children get to socialize with their own friends, giving us a chance to get to know their parents in a friendly environment.
Fourth, it provides a great way to “screen” the family situation of your children’s friends. I’m not so much interested in eliminating friends based on their home situation, but it gives us a chance to understand the home situation better and accomodate it much better in conversations at home.
Such a friendship is incredibly conducive to many frugal things such as potlucks, emergency child sitting, and other such things. If there’s a budding friendship between the parents as well as among the children, it works very well.
A great example of this is the close friendship our daughter has with one of her friends. We met the parents of her friend and invited them over to dinner, which has gradually developed into a pretty nice friendship. We’ve been to their house many times, they’ve visited us many times, we regularly go to social events together, and we’ve arranged carpooling for regular things like soccer and taekwondo practice. We’ve also taken on emergency child care at various times.
Beyond that, Sarah has actually built a good friendship with this child’s mother. The two of them have swapped seeds and countless gardening tactics. They’ve swapped books as well. The two of them are in the same book club. They often stroll over to the other’s house for chats, often a few times a week, and they seem to text pretty regularly, too.
It’s a friendship that would have never happened without capitalizing on the connection between our children.
This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.