Connecting with Others

Building a network of people who care about you and your family.

Happy family of parents, three children, and a grandfather

A lot of parents feel too busy or too overwhelmed to stay connected to the people and activities that bring their life balance, let alone make new friends. However, building a network of social connections is worth the extra effort. Talking things over with trusted friends or family can help you recharge and see problems in a new way. Feeling valued and understood, and knowing you can turn to others for advice or a helping hand can help you to be a happier and more confident parent.

Connecting with Others can look like…

Nametag from an event

Trying something new to make new friends

Woman reading a book to a child

Surrounding kids with supportive, caring adults

Tablet and a cell phone powered off

Turning off your devices when it’s time to connect

Hear From Parents

Listen as parents and grandparents share how the 5 Strengths are important for their families and why they want other families to understand them too. 

Ask Yourself…

There are no right answers. Thinking about these questions can help you understand your family’s strengths.

Do you know why staying connected to friends is so important?
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The U.S Surgeon General recently released a paper called the Epidemic of Loneliness, which describes the benefits of having healthy, supportive friendships and relationships and the dangers of feeling alone. Supportive relationships have healing effects on both everyday worries and long-term suffering. They help you to build inner strength and to increase your ability to find help when you need it. On the other hand, ongoing distress from loneliness can cause sadness and depression, money challenges, and even risk of early death. So, making the time and taking the risk of connecting with others is worth the effort for yourself and your family.
Is technology getting in the way of your relationship with your child?
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Putting the cell phone down is not just difficult for kids. Parents can also easily become districted by social media and text messages. It is also becoming harder and harder to ignore an after-hours message or email from work. However, parents’ use of media can cause them to react more slowly and pay less attention to children’s needs and lead to more conflict and less patience from parents. Distracted parenting can also affect young children’s learning and interfere in relationships with older children and teens. What can you do? Be aware of how much time you are really spending on your phone or computer. Take your work email off your devices, if possible. Create tech free time that you spend with your children and use your devices after your children are in bed.
Do you have friends who are also parents?
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While all friendships are wonderful, the relationships parents build with other parents can be especially important. You’ll be able to share the joys and frustrations of raising a family with people who understand. And you’ll see other parents and parenting strategies in action. When you become a new parent or transition to a new stage of life, it may take some extra effort. But adding other parents to your social network can really pay off.

Tips to Try

It may be challenging for you to make new friends as an adult, but it is important for adults and kids to make new connections. Download the Connecting with Others PDF and try these tips:

 10 Ways for Adults to Make New Friends:

  1. Turn co-workers into friends.
  2. Connect with friends of friends.
  3. Join a local group, such as a mom or dad’s group, book club, or hobby group.
  4. Volunteer and get to know others while working with them.
  5. Take workout classes and meet classmates.
  6. Join a sports league to get to know teammates.
  7. Sign your child up for an activity where you can meet other parents.
  8. Join a faith community that is welcoming.
  9. Check out apps designed for making new connections.
  10. Look for a Family Resource Center in your area.

Take Action

Now that you understand the Five Strengths and why they are important for all families, you will want to take action and explore how you can build them for your own family. Take a look at the ideas and exercises below, or download the Connecting with Others PDF to find what to look for, where to learn more and what you can do to connect with others.

Helping Your Child Make and Keep Friends

Your children are relying on you to to teach them about healthy relationships, provide guidance, and give them chances to connect with other children. Here are some ways you can help with this important part of your child’s life:

  • Show them by modeling your own healthy friendships.
  • Give them frequent opportunities to be around other children, so they have many chances to practice.
  • Invite friends over for playdates regularly, even if this takes you out of your comfort zone.
  • Pay attention to how your child is behaving around other children and gently guide them. 
  • Talk to your child about what they like about a friend and share what you like about your friends.
  • Help your child understand that having a few good friends is ok.
  • Remind your child that friendships change over time and be supportive when that occurs.
  • Reach out for help from your child’s doctor or a therapist if your child is unhappy and struggling with friendships over the long term. 
Be a Good Listener

Really listening and tuning in to what a friend is trying to communicate is one key way to forge a solid relationship.

Unplug: Put away devices and distractions that divide your attention.

Be present: Listen without thinking ahead to what you are going to say next.

Take your time: Pause before responding to what someone has said.

Reflect: Repeat what you heard to make sure you understood the other’s point of view.

Avoid insensitivity: Try not to judge, give too much advice or change the subject.

Websites, Articles, & Videos

Websites A website containing a wealth of information on how and where to meet new people and make true friends, especially designed for those who find this challenging.

Making Good Friends On this webpage find information on what to look for in a friend, what to do to build a friendship.

Six Ways To Grow Social Connections on the Job These tips are equally helpful for building relationships with co-workers, with parenting friends and with others.

Social Connections and Families Find information on the value of different types of connections, the impact of loneliness, and the effects of social media on youth.

Making a Meaningful Connection Discover five concrete strategies for making meaningful connections.

Building Connections: How to Be a Relationship Ninja A humorous speaker shares the steps for building and maintaining good relationships.

Managing Your Childs Use of Screens

Social Media and devices can be both helpful and harmful. They can support learning, provide entertainment, and help kids to stay connected to people they don’t see everyday. However, they can also interfere with relationships by taking up too much time, causing family conflict, interfering with sleep, and providing opportunity for nasty behavior among kids. Here some ways you can manage technology use.

  • Set a good example.
  • Write a family media plan of rules for media use.
  • Create tech-free zones and times in your house.
  • Watch your child’s media use by checking what they are doing online and keeping devices in the common areas of the house.
  • Pay attention if they become secretive about media.
  • Encourage children to spend more time on in-person relationships than online.
  • Teach kids how to be responsible technology users and online participants for their age.
  • Join with other parents to create shared rules and appropriate behavior between friend groups.
  • Report cyberbullying, online abuse and exploitation.
Take a Relationship Inventory

Different types of relationships have different purposes in our lives. Have you thought about your different friends and relationships and how they are important for you and your family?

  • Do you have family members nearby? Are you able to count on them to care for your children, provide financial support, or offer a helping hand?
  • Are you more likely to rely on friends or family members?
  • Who helps you celebrate or spends a night out with you?
  • Who is there to listen when you need to talk?
  • Who do you go to if you need to find a resource in your community?
  • If you have friends and family who are far away, how do they help you to feel connected?
  • What kind of relationship might be a good addition to your list of friends and family to your list?
Parent Cafés

Sometimes it is difficult to move from meeting other parents to really getting to know them. Some communities offer parent cafes which are a great opportunity to have meaningful conversation with parents while learning about some practical parenting tools – the Five Strengths or Protective Factors.

However, some communities simply don’t have these parent cafes available. If this is the case for you, there is something you can do. You can be brave and create something similar on your own or together with a friend. “Parent Café in a Box” cards are a good resource which contain with conversation starters designed to help parents in explore the 5 Strengths through discussion.

Several different Parent Café options are available.
• The original “Parent Café in a Box”
• “Dad’s Parent Café in a Box” which ask questions that are specifically geared toward fathers
• “A More Perfect Union Parent Café in a Box” that ask ethical questions about the challenges of parenting in a complex world

You can use the cards within any number of activities such as:
• 5 Strengths Parent’s Night Out
• 5 Strengths Parent-child Playgroup
• 5 Strengths Father’s Group
• 5 Strengths Church Group
• 5 Strengths Facebook Group
• 5 Strengths Instagram or Snapchat