Many years ago, when my second [of four] sons was in middle school, he began to talk about kids I didn’t know. Shortly after seventh grade began, I decided it was time to reach out to the parents of these kids and try to get to know them better. So, I asked my son to make a list of the kids he ate lunch with everyday, and any others he had in classes he’d consider to be good friends.
And while it was completely out of character for me to make phone calls to people I don’t know, I decided if I wanted to gather these parents I had to put myself out there. Of course some of the parents I knew well, and those calls were easy to make. Others were complete strangers. I remember one dad’s response when I called and explained what I was hoping to accomplish…”You want me and my wife to come to your house for drinks and snacks because our kids each lunch together? I don’t think so.” (Click). His wife must have been in the background because two minutes later (as I was trying to recover), he called back and said he and his wife would appreciate the chance to come over.
I honestly debated whether or not the evening should be centered around beer, wine and appetizers. But, I knew right away it was a good call, because although we had our son’s friendship in common, initially everyone was a bit quiet while standing around our kitchen. However, as soon as we’d had a half a glass of wine or beer, we were all fast friends. The evening was a great success, and I was much more comfortable sending my son to the homes of his friends knowing I’d spent some time with the parents.
My husband and I had planned to do it again every year, knowing our kids don’t always keep the same group of close friends from one year to the next, and realizing what a great an opportunity it had been to talk with some other moms and dads who had kids the same age.
But…we moved to Texas shortly thereafter, and the idea kind of got pushed aside for many years.
Until one day, a few weeks ago, when the mom of a friend of my seventh grade son contacted me about an issue, and my memory was jogged about the party we’d hosted so many years ago. The son I am referring to now is my fourth, and, like I said, I had forgotten how important that particular social gathering was until that moment.
In fact, I am embarrassed to admit I don’t really know many of the parents of my third son (who is now a senior in high school at this point), how wish I’d remembered this idea sooner.
Nonetheless, I am sharing this concept with you because we are about to host several parents, those who my son considers a friend, into our home for beer, wine and appetizers, and I know this is something we will do every year for his friends parents, as well as to begin the tradition when my youngest, and only, daughter is also in middle school.
Often as parents we are so busy running our children to every activity under the sun, we don’t take time to build connections ourselves. It is immensely helpful to talk with parents whose children are in the same stage of life as our own.
We learn a lot, we compare notes, we understand we are not alone. So, whether it’s over coffee and scones, or over a beer and a football game, make the time to get to know and understand the parents of the kids your child considers a friend. I promise it will bring comfort and reassurance on many levels to your parenting journey.
Kimberly Muench is a Flower Mound mother of five and author of “My Mothers Footprints: A story of Faith, Calm, Courage, Patience and Grace.” To see more of her work or to contact her, visit www.realifemom.com.