The Three Types of Friends that Every Parent Needs

Be brave, keep going | 3 friends every parent needs |

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of hearing Brene Brown’s opening keynote speech at a conference I attended.  The entire speech was good, but one thing that she said has really stuck with me over the years and that is  the idea that we all need “a friend who would move a body for us.”

Go over to Brene’s blog and read the story behind this phrase and then come back here.  It is a good one.  I’ll wait for you.

What we need is a friend who will stand by us and not pass any judgement or ask too many questions.  A friend who will just jump in and help us out when we need them.

I agree that friends like that are a rare treasure, and for me, I know that parenting has shown me that we need those treasured friends as part of our support system.

Okay, so we don’t need someone to move an actual body, but most of us do need someone to look past the sticky spots in our lives.  We need the kind of support and encouragement that doesn’t come with conditions because parenting, as you know, can be a messy business.

We need someone who can overlook the messes (literal and figurative) in our lives, someone who doesn’t pass judgement, and someone to whom we can turn to during vulnerable moments and vent without worrying that our emotional words will be thrown back in our faces.

Someone Who Can Overlook the Mess

A few of my girlfriends and I have a deal:  we don’t clean before we visit each other’s homes. It is radical, I know, and contrary to the example of the good hostess many of us have been raised to be.  But, what a joy it is!

Not only does this agreement save the pre-company frantic cleaning, but it also allows us to really enjoy each other’s visits and gives us the reassurance that yes, these are real homes with real families living in them and real messes.  It takes the stress and the pretense away.

There are the everyday messes of life with kids.  And, sometimes there are messes because we are in challenging seasons of life that demand we put our time and energy somewhere else besides the housework.  We need people in our lives who we can open our doors to, no matter what is going on.

Before my third child was born, my mom and my sister-in-law, Jennifer, came to stay with us and watch the older kids.  While they were here, these wonderful women not only cleaned my house from top to bottom but they filled our pantry and freezer with delicious things to eat once the new baby arrived, too.

Now, there aren’t very many people I could let see my dirty laundry or the dust bunnies underneath our beds without cringing, but these two women  passed no judgements on me but sincerely wanted to help and make our “nest” as cozy as possible before we brought our new baby home.  I’m very blessed to have them in my life. And, if they saw anything that horrified them as they were cleaning my home, neither one has ever mentioned it to me.

I think everyone needs a friend who doesn’t see that your floors haven’t been mopped this week (month?) or that the baby is wearing only her diaper or the kids are still in their pajamas at lunchtime.  Because we all have days like that.  Every parent needs a friend who can come over on a bad day, without passing any judgement, and be an extra pair of hands.  A true helper.

Face painted girls DO NOT REMOVE PHOTO | SimpleKids.netI hope these wild souls will always be good friends.

Someone Who Makes No Judgements

When you choose a simpler path for your family and step out of the mainstream, sometimes that means you are making different parenting choices from your friends and family.  Now, I don’t mind a healthy discussion with someone who genuinely wants to know why we do what we do.  I’m generally  happy to recommend books and websites for further information on a topic.

However, sometimes you don’t want to be an advocate for a cause.  Sometimes you just want to spend time with a friend without having to explain yourself or discuss parenting philosophies.

We shouldn’t live in a bubble, of course.  And what one family’s simple, as I often say, might very well be another family’s complicated. There is no “one size fits all” although some will try to convince you that there is.

I think we all need someone in our lives who parents differently from us, whether that difference is something  like the type of education we choose for our children or the religious service we attend, or something less significant in the big picture, like cloth diapering or having a gift-free birthday party or enrolling our kids in dance lessons.

The key, I feel, is that we need the company of someone who may do things differently but also doesn’t pass judgement on us or expect us to constantly be defending our choices. And, vice versa, someone whose choices we can respect as well, even when they are different from our own.

There might people in your life whom you feel are constantly looking at your parenting under a microscope.  Those people are exhausting to be around, am I right?  What a joy it is when we don’t have to feel like we are being judged or in competition with another parent.

I suppose what I’m saying is that, as parents, we need to be around other parents and families where there are differences, but that the differences don’t matter to the friendship.  Those kind of relationships are good for us and for our kids.

Someone to Whom We Can Vent

My kids aren’t perfect and neither am I. I make mistakes.  I get burned out.  My kids misbehave. I can admit that here, right?

There are times when that “body” that I need a friend to help me deal with is my own.  I know that I have days where it seems that one thing after another piles up and before I know it, my attitude is reflecting the stress that I feel.

I’m very fortunate that in those times, I have people that I can turn to and vent and they know that I don’t really want to “sell it all and move into a yurt” or “run away until they graduate.” *  They know that I’m just having a very bad day and need to get some things off of my chest.

Likewise, I hope they feel that they can turn to me and cry or yell, too and I know that they aren’t really going to “lose their minds” but they are just feeling the stress of this very important parenting task and need to let off some verbal steam.

*What?  You’ve never said these things? :-)

I know that those words and foolish things I might say in the heat of the moment or at the peak of frustration won’t be thrown back in my face at a later time. I know that I am safe with these people to vent and break down.  These are the friends who love me, and my kids, without expecting either of us to be perfect.

Everybody Need Somebody

If one is lucky, we have these three types of friends or perhaps even one or two people in our lives who have all of these qualities.

The important thing, I believe, is that every parent has someone that they feel safe being real and honest with during the sticky, stressful, far from perfect times of our lives. Whether that is a spouse, a family member, or a friend, we need people in our lives whose support doesn’t come with conditions.

We need that friend who would, as Brene Brown says, move a body for us.

By the way, Brene Brown is the author of The Gifts of Imperfection and I highly recommend her book as well as her TED talk.

I treasure my “move a body” friends. Do you have people in your life whom you know would help you without passing judgement? Do you have people that you are comfortable seeing the messier sides of your life?

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at

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  1. Love this post. Thank you.

    Adventures In Babywearing´s latest post: Home Improvement

  2. Here via Steph, and I absolutely agree. Certain girlfriends of mine would be offended if I cleaned before they came over — they know my willingness to leave my mess is a sign that I know they love me just as I am. And you’re right about the effect of seeing other people’s realness, their real messes. The illusion of perfection can be alienating or threatening, especially to new moms who are trying to figure out how others seem to do it all.

    And the venting – yes. To know you can be honest without having the friend think you are a bad mom or wife or person. The worst is when you vent to the wrong person and are met with the “I have never felt that way and am appalled that you have” eyes. Thankfully, that’s been a rare experience for me.

    Great post, great thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for visiting!

      “The worst is when you vent to the wrong person and are met with the “I have never felt that way and am appalled that you have” eyes. Thankfully, that’s been a rare experience for me. ”

      Ah, yes, I’ve had that experience, too. And wished that I could wind the clock backwards as quickly as possible and take back my words. Fortunately, like you, that has been a rarity in my life. But it still stings.

      “they know my willingness to leave my mess is a sign that I know they love me just as I am.” – LOVE that! Exactly :-)
      Kara @SimpleKids´s latest post: The Three Types of Friends that Every Parent Needs

  3. What a fantastic post , Kara. We move around a lot and I always feel truly blessed when I stumble upon a new friend who has some or all of these qualities. They most often end up being the people I keep in touch with over the years, and that I consider my truest friends. I’ve also had the honour, on more than one occasion, of being referred to as “that friend”, and that is just a great feeling.
    Ainsley´s latest post: Happy Mothers Day!

  4. What an amazing inspired post!!! Wow… It came out just right. We do so need our support system in place – where would we be without friends!!! We recently lost more best friends to emigration and every time this happens I realize we need to treasure our friends so much more… how many Fridays I have spent home resting from a busy week, why didn’t I go and hang out in a field with our friends and rest there… madness… life is a rather long lesson. This post is the perfect reminder for me. Thank you so much!!!

  5. What a wonderful post…I’ve been friends with my best friend since I was 8 yrs. old and she’s my “move a body” friend. I’m so thankful for her! What a gift to have friends we can truly be ourselves with.
    Krissa´s latest post: Cooking Together…Risotto Primavera

  6. Debbie S. says:

    YES!!! Love this, and thank you for it!

  7. I would move a body for you, Kara.
    Simple Homeschool – Jamie´s latest post: Relaxed Elementary Education 2011 Curriculum Fair

  8. I can’t help but smile as I read this post. As always, I think it is perfectly timed. I was just telling one of my friends about the true love and friendship I have with my *best* friend. The kind of friendship where you can go weeks without talking (or even e-mailing) and still know that you are thinking of each other on a regular, maybe even daily basis. The kind of friend where you can cry for hours about all the things your husband is doing and still know they won’t judge him for those actions because you both know that when it’s all said and done you love your husband with all your heart and just needed to vent. The kind of friend who has seen you at your worst and at your best… and still sees the same person. Your sanity check, sounding board, confindant, creative muse and more. Yep. I’ve got one of those friends that would help me move a body… in fact, we sort of have! Isn’t that how we met?

    Great post, Kara.

  9. This is how we know we have built true community. When we are surrounded by the people that GET us and support our messy lives. They’re the friends that NOURISH our souls.

    I am soooo blessed to have a “mommy posse” that fills this role. The gals I met when our kids were weeks old, laughed to tears with over our our colicky babies, and can now call at 3 PM and say, “We’re going stir crazy. We’re coming over!”

  10. Awesome, Kara! I think that this post and the points you make ring so true for any woman – a mother or not. These are the types of friends that make life beautiful.

  11. my mother-in-law! seriously!!

  12. This is a really thought-provoking piece. Perhaps because it has made me realise that I don’t necessarily have many friends as those you describe. I too really love Brene Brown’s work and have read about having ‘a friend who would move a body for us’ before. But I didn’t really think about it at the time. Your post has made me reflect more deeply on this notion and I think I might be able to describe on 2 fingers friends like this. Having said that, my family is definitely as you describe. No judgment and would help me in anyway they can.

    Anyway, I appreciate thinking about it all, so thank you.
    Francesca´s latest post: Confession- I am a mothers group drop-out

  13. I’ll add to the chorus of THANK YOU and AMAZING and YES.

    I struggle with perfectionism in many ways, and it was a dear, loving community of friends who helped me begin to embrace being okay with who I am.

    I have two friends in our current community who would absolutely move a body for me and I would do the same for them in a heartbeat. I think the having a friend to whom you can safely vent is HUGE for women. It’s difficult to have those conversations with the men in our lives because their natural instinct to protect and fix takes over. With a trusted girlfriend, she may offer advice or suggestions, but I know that she’ll KNOW that sometimes I just need to vent.

    This is such a great piece. Thank you, Kara.
    Megan at SortaCrunchy´s latest post: A Gentle Parents Survival Guide to Six

  14. I am always looking for these traits in friends. Not all my relationships carry all of these dynamics, but I am blessed to have one wonderful friend who does! I can’t imagine parenting without her, and what a bonus that her child and mine are exactly the same age!

  15. What I wonder is why it’s so hard to find friends like these offline. Maybe we need to unplug more.
    Julia´s latest post: Class Field Trip- Going as a Parent for the First Time

  16. I SO agree with this! It has reminded me to be thankful for these kinds of friends in my life!
    Jess´s latest post: living loveliness- let it go

  17. I love this — it’s so true. In a crisis, they’re the people you call and tell the truth to. I’m so grateful for those friends who can come in anytime!
    Dreena Tischler´s latest post: Parenting in the Presence (cross post)

  18. What a great post to wake up to! Thank you! We recently moved (well, it’s been three years now….) and I’ve had difficulty finding my tribe, so to speak. I’m introverted, so it takes a big effort for me to make friends. I have one best friend (besides my husband, of course) who would move a body for me and to whom I can vent, but he lives a thousand miles away. This post is making me realize I need to give it more effort, as the one friend I have made is pretty judgemental, gossipy and does not walk the talk. In other words, no friend at all.

    I love Brene Brown too, but I’m finding the links you give to be “protected”. Is anyone else experiencing this?

  19. Since we started this journey of moving into our bus we’ve had so many friends offer to help watch the kids, help us pack and move and have also had a lot of help from family as well. It’s been really humbling seeing how much other people have given of their time and effort for our family!
    Sarah @ Little Bus on the Prairie´s latest post: Home Sweet Bus Part I

  20. I therefore consider this! It’s jogged my memory to be glad for these types of friends in my life…!!!


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