At various points in my life, I’ve entered entirely new social arenas. When I left my hometown and went to college, I started over. After my first year, a good portion of my social circle either graduated, dropped out, or went to another school, so I wound up starting all over again (sans two people). After college, I only stayed friends with three people besides my wife. When I got married, when I became a parent – both were radical changes, altering my social circle.
Sure, I’ve retained a very small number of friends for many, many years, but for the most part, my social circle has changed radically during my life at various times and I’ve found myself starting over again.
Take our current situation, for example. Upon moving and having a second child, we find ourselves substantially far away from most of the people who made up our previous social circle and with very little in common with most of them, as virtually none of them are parents. While we still do see a few of these old friends occasionally, we’re now looking at a situation where we are effectively starting over in terms of looking for people to socialize with. Distance and changing lifestyles have created significant gaps for many of them.
So how do we start over again? Where can we find people to socialize with who reflect our values? What we both want to find are parents of young children who are fairly educated and intelligent and, most importantly, not obsessed with consumerism. Where can we start? Here are our best ideas.
Our own block The vast majority of people on our block are parents of young children. As soon as we moved, we planned on inviting several of the families near us over for dinner parties, but several personal events after the move (birth, mulitple close family deaths, other personal events) have stopped that from happening. We haven’t given up hope, though, and are planning a handful of dinner parties in the spring.
The local library This seems unusual at first, but it makes a lot of sense. The library provides a lot of opportunity for finding potential people to socialize with that share our values. One great place to start is by taking our children to the library’s story hour and talking to the other parents there. This is currently difficult for us, but we are looking at some degree of downshifting which would open that door for us.
Local book clubs Book clubs can be very interesting places. I participated in one about five years ago for the better part of a year (just before our previous move) and I quite enjoyed the company of most of the people there. There were all kinds of people present, from a handful of very old people to teenagers, but what they all had in common was a serious desire to learn and grow and understand in an open setting. The most interesting part was that the room was about 80% couples, many of them with children – in fact, the couples took turns functioning as daycare in the other room. There’s a lot of potential here.
Civic meetings, especially those related to the school district School board meetings and parent-teacher association meetings tend to attract people who want to be involved with the community and with the lives of their children. While you tend to find some people here with all sorts of different value sets, such meetings can be a great place to sit back and watch, participate a little, and meet some potentially interesting people.
Youth group volunteering People who invest the time to volunteer for youth groups usually have children of their own. Even better, you get the opportunity to meet a lot of parents that way, enabling you to get to know at least the parents of the kids in your youth group or team as well as the others participating in volunteer work. Again, I may have to do some filtering here, but it’s a great way to meet a lot of responsible parents.
More suggestions for finding frugal-minded people to socialize with are welcome in the comments.