Navigating Mom Friendships: Embracing Different Beliefs for Maximum Joy


As moms, we’re all finding our way in the beautiful, messy journey of motherhood. From sleepless nights to endless diaper changes to preteen sass and the widely held teenage belief that parents know absolutely nothing, moms who are neck-deep in motherhood’s trenches share a bond that’s hard to describe.

Don’t believe me? Look around next time you’re in the mall and your preteen starts to talk back to you. There’s a 100% chance another mom, one who is facing her own preteen demon at home, is laughing with you. Is your celebratory dinner out being rudely interrupted by your toddler’s shrieks? Every mom in the restaurant feels your pain and recalls her days of hastily packaged “special meals” and evenings cut short. There’s an undeniable bond, real and tangible. 

But what happens when we encounter a fellow mom whose beliefs and values differ significantly from our own? How do we go about navigating mom friendships while respecting our differences? I want to discuss strategies I’ve used for building and maintaining friendships with moms who have different beliefs than I do and whose different beliefs strengthen our bond.

Moms with their children at a busy playgroup.

I recently met a fellow mom at a playgroup and we hit it off right away. She, like me, loves to laugh and make light of the tedious monotony and sometimes wrenching difficulties that come with motherhood. We love to laugh and chat about life and, as luck would have it, our kids play well together. We’ve met up for multiple play dates outside of the playgroup.

However, it wasn’t long after our first few visits when I realized that she and I have very different beliefs on several topics.

Knowing this made me wonder if we would be able to navigate mom friendships or if this was it for us. For example, we practice totally different parenting styles when it comes to discipline and education. I value having a positive work-life balance and enjoy advancing my career, while she is happy to be a stay-at-home mom. She values time spent outdoors and chooses to not bring TV into her home, while I regularly binge-watch Netflix. She votes one way, I vote the other. I’m spiritual; she’s an atheist. She hates makeup; I regularly spend way too much money at Sephora. You get the idea!

The author with her husband and 3 kids.

After this realization first occurred to me, I left her house feeling unsure. I can’t exactly tell you why but I think it’s because I’ve never been friends with someone with so many different beliefs than I do. And it got me thinking… could we still be friends? Learning to navigate mom friendships is hard even when you agree on everything, but this was a lot.

The next time we hung out, the answer was clear: yes! Even though she and I have different beliefs in multiple different aspects of life, we have both built our lives on the same premise: that life is meant to be enjoyed. 

Because of this, we’ve found common ground when it comes to laughing about funny things our kids say, commiserating about endless piles of laundry, reminiscing about life before kids, and dreaming about who we’ll become as we get older. 

So, here are my thoughts about embracing different beliefs when it comes to navigating mom friendships:

Embrace Diversity

Just like our kids are unique individuals, so are we as moms. Embracing diversity in our friendships means recognizing that we all come from different backgrounds, cultures, and life experiences. And that’s okay! Instead of seeing differences as barriers, we can choose to embrace them as opportunities for growth.

Practice Empathy

I believe that empathy is the foundation of any meaningful relationship, especially when it comes to navigating differences. Take the time to truly listen to your mom friends’ perspectives and understand where she’s coming from. Just remember that empathy doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything she says (this took me a while to learn!) but it does mean showing respect and compassion for her beliefs. Navigating mom friendships with empathy makes a lot of sense. 

Focus on Common Ground

While it’s natural to focus on our differences, it’s important to also acknowledge the things we have in common. Whether it’s a shared love for our families, a passion for a hobby, or a similar sense of humor, finding common ground can help when navigating mom friendships even where significant differences exist.

Set Boundaries

Healthy friendships are built on mutual respect and understanding, but that doesn’t mean we have to compromise our own values. It’s okay to set boundaries and respectfully communicate your needs. If a particular topic of conversation makes you uncomfortable, try to steer the conversation in a different direction. And remember, not every difference of opinion needs to be addressed or debated. Sometimes, it’s okay to agree to disagree and move on!

Lead by Example

I love this one! As moms, we have the amazing opportunity to model kindness and open-mindedness for our children. By demonstrating respect for others’ beliefs and opinions, we teach our kids valuable lessons about empathy and tolerance. Reminds me of the Gandhi quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Try to Understand

Instead of jumping to conclusions or making assumptions about someone’s beliefs, take the time to try to understand. Ask questions, engage in meaningful conversations, and approach the situation with an open heart and mind. This can be hard to do, but I’ve found that it’s a skill that gets easier the more I practice it. 

Celebrate Diversity

Our differences are what make the world a beautiful place! Instead of viewing differences as obstacles, we can celebrate the richness and diversity of our mom community. After all, it’s our unique perspectives and experiences that make us stronger together. Plus, it’s fun! Motherhood is a great equalizer, in many ways, because no matter who you are, where you come from, or how you parent, there are certain parenting experiences we can all appreciate because we have all lived them. The commonalities of motherhood make navigating mom friendships a lot easier- because there’s so much we are both experiencing.

The author with her friends at an exercise class at a gym.

Because of our differences, my friend and I have had tons of interesting and entertaining conversations. To me, that’s more enjoyable than always spending time with moms who are exactly like me!

Navigating mom friendships with moms who have different beliefs can be challenging, but I’ve found it to be very inspiring. By embracing diversity, practicing empathy, and focusing on common ground, we can build meaningful connections. Best of all, these connections enrich our lives and the lives of those around us. 

Let’s choose love over judgment and understanding over ignorance. And let’s approach our friendships with kindness and acceptance, knowing that together, we can create a community (world?) where every mom feels valued.

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Navigating Mom Friendships: Embracing Different Beliefs

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