Being a mother is almost like having a special pass to a very elite club.
Suddenly, you are on par with women all over the world and able to understand their challenges and struggles like no one else can.
This will eventually lead you into a group of mom friends.
Mom friends are an amazing source of emotional support. Yet, as with any friend group, you have to be weary of the bad apples.
Being a mom doesn’t automatically make you a perfect human being. In fact, we as mothers all have our flaws and we are in no way perfect.
However, there is no need to let the flaws of other mothers drag you down. When it comes to the members of your mom tribe, there is one type of mom friend in particular you should watch out for.
She is the “Taker” and, if you’re not careful, she can end up being a contributing factor to the exhaustion and overwhelm you already experience in your mom life.
What is a Mom Tribe?
Even if you don’t know what a Mom Tribe is, you probably already have one without realizing it.
A Mom Tribe is a group of women who have come together because they are mothers. These can be new friends or current acquaintances. No matter how you meet them, these individuals are likely your largest source of support.
Motherhood is lonely and it’s hard to find people who understand what it’s like to be a mom – apart from other moms. Only other mothers can empathize with the struggles of motherhood.
Just like any group of friends, each members plays a unique role.
Some, however, whether on purpose or not, take advantage of the kindness and support of their Mom Tribe. These toxic friends are known as “Takers”.
Who is the “Taker”?
The “Taker” is the mom that takes advantage of you because she is needy and opportunistic.
She is quick to offer assistance so she can ask for something in return. Often, the favors she asks for are frivolous such as watching her kids so she can go grocery shopping or driving her kid to the bus stop because she doesn’t feel like walking.
And when you decline to help, she guilt trips you. She is quick to remind you that she has done SO MUCH for you.
The Taker can also act like a leech, asking for money even though you’re busting your butt to provide for your kids.
I’ll tell you about one of my experiences with the Taker: We were hanging out one day and I had a bit more extra money than usual, so I treated her and I to some Chinese food.
Later that day she texted me to borrow money to buy a breast pump (even though she was already in possession of a rental). She just wanted a better model.
I was careful to start keeping my financial business to myself after that.
However, the Taker isn’t necessarily malevolent – and I don’t believe my friend was either. They just, for some reason, take advantage of every situation they can.
And there are a few reasons why they may do this:
- They have low mom confidence and are in constant need of extra parental help.
- They are used to delegating responsibilities among their family members that they extend this behavior to (and expect it from) their friends.
- They believe that they are being fair by offering help in order to seek it.
Whatever the reason, this is a toxic friend and dealing with her can be draining and exhausting for you.
Setting Boundaries with Toxic Mom Friends
Whether you are dealing with a Taker, or any other type of toxic mom friend that sucks the life out of you, the most important thing you can to avoid the overwhelm is to set boundaries.
Be sure to establish with your mom tribe what you can and can’t do for them. For example, I had to make it very clear to my mom friends that, because I’m a single mom with anxiety, I couldn’t rush to their aid at the drop of a hat.
I need structure and notice or else I have a panic attack.
You also need to learn to say “no” – and the sooner you do this the better. I’m not saying to never help your friends, but always say “no” when you really can’t.
Remember that reciprocity in friendships should exist because you want to help each other and not just to get something in return. It’s important to be there for your mom friends but not at the expense of your own time.
Your well-being and your kids are more important than theirs.
Does all of this mean you should ditch the Taker?
Well, if being her friend is having a negative impact on your life then, yes, you should definitely give her up if setting boundaries isn’t alleviating the demands.
Otherwise, if the constant favor-asking is simply an annoyance (and the friendship is otherwise great), you can definitely work through this issue by setting boundaries as well as having an open and honest conversation with her.
Do You Even Need a Mom Tribe?
You don’t even have to call it a mom tribe, but having a group of mom friends is important in developing a support system.
Apart from that, having a mom tribe helps remind us that we are not perfect parents. We are privileged to witness their mistakes as we make our own – so in a mom tribe, there is no room for judgment or hypocrisy.
You can also learn a lot from your mom friends, whether it be specific parenting skills or simply how to set those boundaries. Our parenting styles all differ, so we stand to learn a lot by sharing our insight and know-how.
And for all the grief one member of the tribe may cause you, having that abundance of support is monumental.
So for the sake of your motherhood sanity, don’t let one bad apple spoil the bunch.