We know that it “takes a village to raise a child” but sometimes we find ourselves without a village, particularly if we have family who live far away. Covid-19 has certainly made this even truer, with many people isolated from their families due to travel restrictions. Never has it been more important to have friends like family.
The Early years
When my children were younger, I was blessed to have both a MOPS group and a mother’s group that I met with weekly. I had a number of special women who became my main support during the baby and toddler years. I greatly appreciated their love and advice. Things have changed as the kids have gotten older. As many of us have started working again, finding time to meet for coffee has become almost impossible.
My husband and I are blessed to have some family living nearby. However my brother doesn’t have children, and our niece and nephews on my husband’s side are all older than our children. This, together with a number of unfortunate circumstances on both sides of our families, has left us with less support now that our children are older.
Friends like family
Over the years though, we have developed close friendships with others who have children similar of ages to ours. And as we now move into new challenges with teenagers, I am finding myself leaning more and more on the support that my friends and my children’s friends offer.
‘Family’ dinners, holidays, overseas trips, sleepovers and regular weekend catch-ups have become a regular occurrence for us and our friends. I have two close friends who can see immediately when I’ve had a hard parenting week; they will regularly offer to take my children for a few hours after church on a Sunday to give me and my children a break. My children refer to these friends as ‘aunty’ and ‘uncle’ and will tell other children about their ‘cousins’. My son actually refers to one of our close friends as his cousin and introduces him as such to others. We may not be related by blood but the role we play in each other’s lives is like family. And while we love and appreciate our blood family too, our lives are genuinely richer because of the extended family God has brought to us.
How can I find such friends?
I truly believe that God knows what your family needs and will bring the right people into your life to fill the gaps that may exist. These gaps may exist either because of family living far away, or other circumstances that may result in your family not being able to be what you need them to be.
If this is something that you don’t yet have in your life, I’d like to encourage you to pray and ask God for what you are looking for. And lean into the people around you. Put yourself out there and meet new people. Close friendships can develop over time, or immediately. It’s well worth investing in friendships that will offer you encouragement and support throughout the parenting years. Family can be a blessing, and no matter how big or small your family currently is, there is always room for more.