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.

Are your close relationships respectful, caring and mutually supportive?
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Emotions can be contagious. And that makes the quality of your closest relationships important. So, take an inventory of your family, friends and romantic relationships. Are your closest companions caring, respectful and supportive? Do you give and accept help from one another? Take the time to start and maintain healthy friendships and relationships. They’ll offer you and your family the support you need to be strong.
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.
Who would drop everything to help you in an emergency?
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No one can get through life alone. We all find ourselves in situations where we need help and support. Whether they’re picking you up when the car won’t start or providing child care during a time of need, your network of friends and family can be helping hands for you and your kids. How can you expand and strengthen your connections? Sometimes it is necessary to go outside your comfort zone, try new things and meet new people. At the same time, remember to maintain the healthy relationships that you already have.

Tips to Try

Reach out and look for new friends and social connections. Download the Connecting with Others PDF and try these tips:

Places to Connect With Others:

  • Libraries
  • Schools
  • Family Resource Centers
  • Community Centers
  • Park Districts
  • Gyms
  • Parent education classes
  • Zoos or museums
  • Volunteering
  • Children’s Activities

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.

Use Devices Wisely

When it comes to connecting with others, our high-tech devices can be helpful tools or terrible distractions. No technology can replace having meaningful relationships with those around us. But healthy digital habits can help you maintain strong connections, online and in person.

Keep connected: Stay in touch over time and distance, but also rely on more personal connections such as a card, phone call or visit, when possible.

Limit distractions: To be attentive, put devices down during meals and conversation.

Be patient and polite: Understanding emotions is easier face-to-face. Be patient when your words get misinterpreted and try not to say things online that you wouldn’t say in person.

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.

Articles, Briefs & Videos

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.

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

What They Mean for Families Here you can information on Social Connection and Social Capital and what they mean for families

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

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

Expand Your Friendships

For some people, making friends is easy. For others, it is more challenging. However, having friends that you enjoy and can count on is essential for you and for the strength of your family.

Try something new: Volunteer, take a class, or attend an event to meet new people with common interests.

Take a risk: Reach out and make the first move. Invite someone to hang out at a specific time and place.

Don’t give up: Sometimes friendships don’t work out. Don’t take it personally. Keep trying with others.

Stay close: Friends can slip away when you don’t stay in touch. Reach out regularly.

Connect Through Social Media

If you live in a rural area, do not have transportation or have a very young child, going places can be challenging. While it can’t take the place of in-person relationships, social media can help to connect you when leaving your home is difficult.

Nextdoor: An app designed to create a network for a specific community. If a nearby community is active on Nextdoor, you can easily join. Learn about community events, places to go, and services – like recommendations for a good babysitter.

Facebook: You can search for Facebook groups specifically for parents or for your community. Some Facebook parent groups focus on a specific age or parenting issue.

Zoom:  A free, easy to use video conferencing resource that allows you to talk face-to-face with friends via computer or phone.

Facetime, WhatsApp and Google Duo: Other video calling apps that enable face-to-face phone conversations. Facetime is only available on Apple devices, whereas Google Duo and WhatsApp can be downloaded for free and work on both Apple and Android devices.

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