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4 reasons you should make friends with the parent of an older kid

Claire Zulkey wonders when she'll ever get used to the idea that she has two boys. She is the author of two books for young people, An Off Year and Best Frenemies. She and her filmmaker husband live in Evanston, IL. You can find out more...

It’s important for moms to get to know parents of older kids — here’s why

It’s super-easy to form your #squad (that’s what they call it these days, right? Hashtag?) around parents who have kids the same age as yours — you share the ups and downs of preschool or hockey class or hapkido or whatever your kids are into. But all moms should make an effort to have regular encounters with moms of kids older than their own. Sure, your kids might have completely different tastes and dramas, not to mention clothing sizes, but there is a lot to learn from moms of older kids.

1. They will let you know what’s in store

I’m fascinated to hear from my friends whose middle school-aged boys do things like run around the neighborhood without supervision and possess their own smartphone. And I like learning what each of their philosophies and house rules are. For example, one mom told me that they maintain a “no secrets” policy in their house regarding the phone, and so she feels comfortable checking in on her son’s phone every now and then. I hope by the time my kids get to be that age, I’ve listened to enough policies and takes that I might have an idea of what type of future house laws we will want to enact that will be fair and realistic.

More: 6 chores for kids

2. They let you know that you will survive today

Our older son is 4 and sometimes a bit of a drama king. When we “make a fight” as he says, it’s exhausting and dispiriting. It’s always hard, with the first child especially, to imagine the future when the present can seem so intense and sometimes stressful. But women of older kids are living, breathing — even smiling and laughing — proof that apparently, you can get through your children’s lives and even emerge not looking like Large Marge from Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.

3. They make you appreciate your little buddy

I try not to get too bogged down in mourning my children growing up. It is a privilege to have children who grow and thrive and I do not want to pin my whole life on their early years, only to feel empty when they are gone. But still, when I see the big kids that little kids turn into, I would be a fool not to be reminded to cherish this time when my children are uninhibited enough to run around naked, hug stuffed animals and to believe that my husband and I have any idea what we are doing.

4. They’re creating a community

It’s important to society in general that we get out of our proverbial lanes and take the time to speak with people who know more than we do, as well as those less experienced than we are. It wouldn’t be terribly helpful or healthy to only observe life as a parent or otherwise exclusively from our own place in time. When you make friends with a mom whose kids are older than yours, she’s letting you in on her knowledge, which ideally will set a pattern for moms to learn from other moms and to help one another out.

More: 7 reasons you don't need to have your kids close in age

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