By Steve and Bridget Patton
“Our friends are all parents of our kids’ friends. Most of our friends were parents of our kids’ friends. The only way we can have a social life is if we go to the high school football games.”
“We need to branch out. It’s time for us to move on – we need to get friends with shared interests.”
It’s not uncommon for parent friendships to spin off from the friendships of their respective children. But if you’re in a situation where all the children have moved on—and maybe they’re not even friends with each other anymore—and you don’t particularly like going to high school football games, then, yes, it’s probably time to re-evaluate these friendships.
For starters, ask yourselves this big question: Why even have friendships? The answer is equally big: We humans are social beings, made in the image and likeness of a social being—the trinity. Having friendships and a social life are essential to our fulfillment as individuals, couples, families and communities.
But this means more than just avoiding or getting out of shallow or toxic friendships. It also means choosing and keeping friendships for the right reasons. Friendships should primarily be about inspiring, strengthening and supporting one another in a shared effort to grow as children of God. And in this regard, sometimes even a satisfying friendship can be a problem.
For instance, if a friendship is built mostly upon a shared interest—like enjoying high-school football games and their side show of giant pretzels and marching bands—but it really has no other redeeming or higher purpose, then maybe it’s time to quit that scene.
But maybe not. Let’s say you’re sensing that one of your shallow friendship couples is actually hurting and needs to be listened to and cared for. Keep in mind that the purpose of a friendship is not just to get your needs met.
To help re-evaluate your friendships, try reading the Book of Proverbs together. It’s loaded with pearls like this one about true versus false friendships: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but many are the kisses of an enemy.”
Also, if you’re not already doing it, get more involved, as a couple, with activities at your parish. Many parishes offer Bible studies, adult faith formation courses or marriage enrichment programs. In addition to the enrichment you’ll receive from them, you’ll meet other couples who want to live their faith as the foundation of their lives. Good friendships will naturally follow.