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Portrait Of Two Mothers Meeting For Play Date With Babies At Home In Loft Apartment

Making Friends: Finding Your People

I have always found it interesting how we encourage children to make friends with other children. It doesn't really matter the location – it could be at a camp, a sports club, or a random family friendly location with complete strangers. Unless a child verbalizes their anxiety, we often forget to consider the awkwardness of trying to make connections, or the angst of meeting new people who may or may not like you. We take our kids to the park and say, “Go play.”

When we watch them engage in a social context it often reveals something about their nature. They may easily find a new friend, experience discomfort, or have a complete meltdown. Depending on the circumstance, we may intervene and send them back out into the arena and continue to repeat the process. The older we get, the more keenly aware we may be of our own doubts and the perception others have of us.

When my oldest was in the toddler through preschool years, I found it challenging to make new, sustainable connections with my peers. These are also the years that I began to work from home, and my and my family’s rhythm of life had changed. While I encouraged my children to walk into play spaces with eyes wide open, it felt awkward at times for me. In some situations, I was fumbling with my own social skills. Generally, I don't find it difficult to talk to people, but after having children and being in social situations that weren’t work related, making connections felt different. After meeting several times at the library, do you ask someone to hang out if the conversation was enjoyable and your kids seem to play well together? How do you recover from an awkward encounter?

In time, I found and rediscovered my people and made friends. These groups and individuals add value to my life, and I hope I reciprocate value to theirs. They seed my imagination of what is possible and challenge areas that need refining. They support my family's growth and well-being. And simply, they are fun to be around.

We all long for connection and a sense of belonging. There are seasons of parenthood that feel very lonely. If you are in that space, I just want to encourage you to keep showing up and be exactly who you are. Your people will emerge. It may take time, but they are there.

Join Jeané Liburd on Thursday, October 20, and Thursday, November 10, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. for a virtual two-part series: Grounded Parent, Growing Child. Register for parts one and two here.

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About Jeane N. Liburd, MA, CCLS

About Jeane N. Liburd, MA, CCLS Jeané Liburd has worked in the field of child Iife since 2005. She earned a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy and is trained in play therapy. She currently serves as an adjunct instructor for Liberty University. Throughout her career, she has provided services for children and families in various settings including hospitals, pediatric hospice, and community programs. The focus of her work is supporting children and families who have experienced illness, grief, and loss.