Steps to be a Friend Without Owning Other Mama's Problems

6 Steps to Be a Friend… Without Owning Other Mama’s Problems

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Have you ever had a friend who was particularly needy? You know, the kind of friend that seems to take a little (or a lot) more energy, emotional strength, and time from you?

It can be difficult to balance these kinds of friendships. Not only are we busy mamas, but it can be emotionally exhausting to support others (emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually, or in any other way) for an extended period of time.

But you’re a good person and you love your dear friend, even if they do need a lot from you right now.

You want to help in any way you can.

You would never ever give up on them!

So how is a busy mom supposed to balance these friendships in such a way that will be supportive and loving to the person, but also not emotionally draining to you?? 

women forming heart gestures during daytime

1) Let Their Problems Go After the Conversation is Over

I had a friend that I loved dearly. She would confide in me deep problems from her past that continued to scar her present- abuse, phobias, poor family relationships, and more.

I had never faced challenges as intense as hers, and I felt terrible that she had to deal with that! I felt so bad about it that I just couldn’t stop thinking about her problems even after the conversation had ended.

After a while, her problems were constantly on my mind. I wanted to think of everything I could possibly to do fix them, to help out, to save her.

The problem is, she wasn’t looking for a savior. 

She just needed a little love. 

All she wanted from me was a shoulder to cry on, and then she was good! That meant that the only person stressing and stewing was me! 

I learned that other people’s problems really are their own. Those problems aren’t mine, even if that person chooses to share them with me. I can sympathize and offer comfort without adding an unnecessary burden to my own shoulders. 

Have a great conversation, help as you can, then let it go.

This was really difficult for me to do at first. I found that if I offered specific help to my friend (“Please, please call me if you need to talk again.” or “I want to hear how you are doing with this. Will you please let me know if the situation changes?”) then I could relax. I had done everything I could do and the ball was in her court.

After all, my friend is an adult and a very capable person. Why shouldn’t I trust her to handle her situation with poise? 

two men having conversation while walking

2) Ask What They Need

This brings me to my next point. In this situation with my dear friend, I assumed I knew what she wanted from me. I assumed she wanted a solution, a cure, a fix.

But she didn’t.

That wasn’t her intention in telling me the things she did. All she wanted was support.

When your friends confide in you, they might be looking for one or a few of the following things: 

  • Advice
  • Emotional Support or Comfort
  • A Solution 
  • A Poll (You might be one of many friends being told the same information to see if there is common consensus about what to do now)
  • Pros and Cons (Help to think through the good and bad consequences of a particular course of action)
  • Brainstorming (Ideas of what can be done)
  • Understanding (Helping you know where they are coming from or why they think the way they do)
  • To Inform you of a Life Decision (Bad time to give advice- they already know what they’re doing!)
  • To Strengthen your Relationship (Sharing details of your life that other people don’t know can deepen the friendship or can mark a milestone in your friendship)

top-view photography of persons holding mug and pen using MacBook and world map

3) Allow Them the Pride and Satisfaction of Finding their Own Solutions

I remember a sweet girl that I worked with came to me once to ask if I thought she should get a divorce or not. I had learned a few things by then, so I didn’t assume I knew her intentions.

I dug a little deeper and I found out that she was conducting a poll of sorts. She was asking as many people as she could what they thought to see if the majority seemed to agree one way or the other.

(By the way, I really don’t encourage this method. By the time this poor girl came to me, she was so discouraged and confused because she had heard so much advice that she couldn’t sort through it all!)

I was blown away that she was even asking me. We weren’t that close and I really didn’t know her or her situation well enough to have a valid opinion.

So instead of tell her one way or the other, I told her that my only opinion on the matter was that she shouldn’t take anyone else’s advice. 

I told her that she is the only one out of all these people who was going to have to live with her decision, so she should be the only one to make the choice. I suggested that she go back to the basics, think about the positives and negatives in her relationship, take whatever time she needed to think it over, and make a well-thought out decision. 

I never did find out what she decided (again, we really weren’t that close) but I’ll never forget the look in her eyes as I told her these things.


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It was like she was empowered. 

All the sudden, her survey of people didn’t matter. She was able to own her solution to the problem, and that gave her strength. 

Don’t rob people of that. Offer advice, encouragement, ideas, solutions, pros and cons, or whatever the person needs- but always, always, always give them the satisfaction of solving their own problems.

Don’t try to do it for them.

brown tree

4) Find Simple Ways to Lift Them Up

If your poor friend is acting “needy”, there’s probably a good reason for that.

Every single person around me (in the grocery store, in the gym, driving in the car next to me, or at the restaurant) is going through something. Always. 

Give others the benefit of the doubt, assume that they mean well and that their reasons for acting the way they do is perfectly valid. 

In our case, you can help to lift your friend in simple ways that won’t overload you. Go have lunch together, leave her some cookies on her doorstep, play a card game together, watch a movie, send her a note or a text, forward a funny meme, watch her kids for an hour so she can have some alone time, whatever works for you!

Just go back to the basics and be a friend. Friendship isn’t stressful, it’s fun! Find that again in your relationship. 

two woman under white and black blanket

5) Remember that They are Still Themselves

In most cases, needy friends are only needy temporarily. That’s because it’s situations and life stresses that make us needy, and thank goodness those come and go.

Don’t forget who it is that you’re talking about here– they are a great friend, a wonderful person to be around, a ton of fun. They just need a little extra help for a bit.

Who better to step in than you? You’re a great friend, you have awesome advice to give, you know what you’re talking about, you’ve experienced things and have a ton to offer!

Sometimes when all that gets emotionally draining, it’s nice to just remember that it’s temporary. Your friend will get back to their old self soon. And if not, they’ll be even better than they were before!

group of women facing backward

6) Make Some Time for You in the Relationship

I used to think that I wasn’t allowed to talk about myself if a friend was going through a challenge. I used to think that this is their time and I shouldn’t interrupt. 

I recently had an experience that changed my perception. I was keeping my mouth shut about me and trying to be a good listener to a friend in need.

Her reaction surprised me.

After a long time of her telling me about her problems, about her family, about whatever she wanted to talk about, she finally said, “Ok, seriously, why aren’t you saying anything?” 

I was so confused. It wasn’t like I’d been silent, I just wasn’t bringing up stuff from my life because I thought that this was her time.

She said, “No, I want to hear about you too! It’s not like I need more time to focus on my crappy life.” 

I learned that day that there is another thing  friends might be looking for in a conversation: a distraction. 

Sometimes, it’s a great idea to talk about your normal, boring, routine life. It can take your friend’s attention off of their struggles while also filling your needs to be an active part of the friendship. 

Your needs are filled, their needs are filled.

Win win!

two persons forming love fingers

Test out these methods. Find what works for you, and share with the rest of us! 

Do you have any other great tips for being a good friend without owning other people’s problems? Let’s hear them! Comment below!! 

Need more? Check out this awesome post- How to Be A Good Friend (And Signs to Avoid Being a Bad One) 

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

 

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The Amazing Miracle of Moms- YOU Have Something to Offer Moms In Need

AMAZING Miracle of Moms- YOU Have Something to Offer Moms in Need

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This post may contain advertisements and/or links for products and services that I value. I offer recommendations to products and/or services that I find helpful in my own life as a mom. I may receive a commission based on viewer purchases or interactions with these ads. You will NOT be charged any extra money. All prices will stay the same for you whether your purchase items/services through links found on this site or not! 

Updated 2/13/2019

 

I was touched today when I stumbled across an article that told the beautiful story of a mom who needed some help, and all the women who immediately came to her rescue. 

This poor mom was pregnant, traveling all on her own- with a toddler.

It was time for her to board the plane, but the child was having none of it. He ran, flung himself on the ground, cried, screamed, kicked. She couldn’t pick him up because of his flailing.

She was trying to hard, doing everything she could, and nothing was working.

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Related Titles- 

How to Handle a Tantrum Without Destroying Relationship

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We all know how that feels!!!

And then, it was just too much for her. She sat down on the floor next to her son and cried. 

I know that hopeless feeling. I know how frustrated and overwhelmed she must have been to be at the point of breaking down in front of an airport full of strangers.

And so did the women around her.

That’s the amazing part.

Several women gathered around. They all kneeled down in a circle around the crying child and mother.

There wasn’t much talking- just genuine comfort and help. Each had something to offer- a bit of food for the child, some water for the mother, a toy for the little one, good ideas and support for the mother.


Resources- Are you traveling with children? Click the images below! 

Travel Journal

Travel Lap Desk Tray

20 Piece Activity and Games Bag

Transportable Potty Seat

Magnetic Board Games

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How wonderful are women!!! I wish I could have been there to witness such a beautiful moment. 

This story inspired me.

Please comment below- when have you needed help from women around you? How did others support you?

I want to be that mom who supports the women around me. 

We all need it, don’t we? It doesn’t matter how many kids we have, how many times we’ve dealt with it all before, or how much we know about raising children.

We all need help and love from each other.

Mom and Child.jpg

Photo by Xavier Mouton Photographie on Unsplash

What holds us back from helping?

  • I worry that someone might not want my help, or that I will embarrass them by acknowledging the problem.

I always think this about other people, and yet, if a kind stranger offered help to me I would never be offended! I would be so grateful and glad at their kind heart!

This must be my own brain playing tricks on me.

Next time I feel this way, I’ll remember this quote, “Never suppress a generous thought.”

-Camilla E. Kimball

Image result for never suppress a generous thought

  • I worry that I will cause more problems by helping.

This makes no logical sense when I really stop to think about it, but it legitimately holds me back when I have to make a split second decision on whether I will help someone or not.

Of course showing love will improve a situation! How could offering a kind word or a pat on the back not help someone feel better? 

I can do better. I won’t allow myself to miss out on opportunities to bless other peoples’ lives so easily. 

  • I worry that I don’t have anything to give.

This is the hardest thought for me to overcome.

I often just don’t know what to do. I feel so unprepared, my mind draws a blank, and I freeze. What could I possibly contribute?

But you know what? I bet that mom loved each and every person who stopped in to help her- and they each brought something unique to the table.

All things combined, it was the perfect solution to the problem. 

people's hand overlapping on center

What if the child was hungry, and the woman who shared her snacks didn’t stop to help? She might have thought, “There’s plenty of people there to help. They don’t need me.”

But she was needed and she did stop!

What if the woman with the toy in her bag hadn’t stopped? That resource would have been lost. 

“Anyone who thinks that they are too small to make a difference has never tried to fall asleep with a mosquito in the room.” -Christine Todd Whitman

There’s no excuse why we can’t all help each other! 

Let’s all decide now that we will help the next mom we see who needs a hand. Then we won’t be stopped by the thoughts that hold us back from helping. Make a plan now to be a support to others around you. 

Can you image the power we all have?? We can lift each other’s loads, make this tough job of parenting so much easier, and keep each other smiling. 

Let’s do it today- one little act of kindness at a time.

Women have amazing strength. Time to put it to work!

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

Please share this post with all women and parents! Let’s all band together to help each other!

Please comment, like, and subscribe to my weekly email list for updates on the world of parenting!!Free Self Care Guide 2

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What Parenting Is All About

What Parenting Is All About

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This post may contain advertisements and/or links for products and services that I value. I offer recommendations to products and/or services that I find helpful in my own life as a mom. I may receive a commission based on viewer purchases or interactions with these ads. You will NOT be charged any extra money. All prices will stay the same for you whether your purchase items/services through links found on this site or not! 

Do you ever have perfect parenting moments that make it all worth it?

It was so great to accidentally catch one of those on film!

Love my baby!!!

 

What amazing parenting moments raise your spirits? What makes this all worth it to you?? Comment below!

I could seriously just watch that video over and over again. She’s so happy, and silly, and cute, and giggly!

I wish my cute baby would stay like that forever. I don’t want her to ever grow up.

Feeling so blessed! Go home and hug your families! I’m going to do the same.

Sincerely,

Mrs. S

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Please share with any parent who needs a pick me up!

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