Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ask Angela: Dear LDS Relief Society, I don't have kids, but I'd still like to be friends

By Angela Trusty, For the Deseret News

Published: Mon, Feb. 10 11:55 a.m. MST

 How do you make friends with women who are in a different stage of life? Angela shares her take.

How do you make friends with women who are in a different stage of life? Angela shares her take.

(Shutterstock)

Dear Angela,

I’m happily married but I don’t have children, yet. This fact seems to be very unsettling to the other women in my ward Relief Society (women’s group). They all bond very quickly and seemingly easily because of their children while I’m kind of this odd woman out because I’m in a different phase of life. I love making new friends, but I’m finding this “no kids” thing a real obstacle. I guess my real issue is that I want to feel like I “belong” in Relief Society, but nobody is interested in being my friend! I want to change how my Relief Society views me and I want to make friends. Any suggestions?

Thanks!

Detroit Lady

Dear Detroit Lady,

I get this type of question a lot from women in Relief Society. Some say, “I’m a widow, so people seem to be uncomfortable talking to me,” or “I’m the only single one, so people seem uncomfortable talking to me” and “I’m a new convert, so people seem uncomfortable talking to me,” etc., etc.

There are times I’ve even felt like, “I’m the only black girl in this room and so people seem to be uncomfortable talking to me …” It seems like we all have our own version of this struggle.

Luckily, there are things you can do. What I’ve worked on recently is finding ways to speak to people individually and outside of church. It’s nearly impossible to develop deep, meaningful relationships by just making eye contact over a shared hymn book or during the 5-10 minutes in between classes.

But if there is someone that you’ve thought, “Yeah, I want to know this person better,” then make plans for some type of activity during the week. It should be kid friendly, and not a lot of fuss, just a way for you to spend some time seeing that your new friend is more than her kids, and that you are more than your “no kids.” You know what I mean?

Trying to “change” your Relief Society’s views is a big (and, I think, probably really frustrating) task, but getting to know these unique women on an individual basis sounds like it could be really rewarding and a lot of fun.

Will you let us know how it goes?

Love,

Angela

Readers: Do you have a difficult time making friends at church? Is it hard to make friends with someone who doesn't have kids when you do?

For more opinions on this topic, 'Like' the Ask Angela Facebook page, and visit the Ask Angela Blog.

Angela Trusty is a millennial writer who lives and writes about the young single adult Mormon experience. Twitter: askange_column

Recommended
1. Sasha Pachev
Provo, UT,
Feb. 10, 2014

If you offer to help with the kids you will make friends very fast.

2. desert
Potsdam, 00,
Feb. 10, 2014

Being invited to other churches of different believes, I often wonder how is it that some of them are so "touchy" in relating to everyone ?
I have seen people there of different problems being treated like they are the very best that Christ has given them. Why ?

In my search for answers, I have found that Mormonism is time troubled, stress related and priority related. That puts most families on a let us go "to church as quick as it can be" get out again. Some pleasure along will be treated with kindness, since we don't want to go without having any fun, so may be other mothers with kids can be positioned to be fun with.
Something they can relate to.Something to fill that 5 MIN space in church.

My suggestion to the question here :
Break away from standard attitudes people have, and be active in missionary work first, with missionaries, neigbors or friends just for being social to others, then learn to adopt new feelings and bring them back into the church. You will see, you will like it.

3. Kinderly
Riverdale, MD,
Feb. 10, 2014

I think that most women aren't deliberately excluding you. Scheduling mismatch could be a problem at times. Also, conversations constantly interrupted by children's needs. However, I think you could made a lot of headway by actively trying to make friends.

Here are some ideas:
-Pick a family with young kids and arrange to sit with them at church every week, to help out the parents.
-Invite a family over for dinner.
-Go to RS activities outside of sunday meetings. You can even go to ones planned for moms. For example, in my ward we go on fun outings with our playgroup but other people are welcome to come meet us at the park (or wherever) and hang out. We also take turns babysitting for sisters to attend the temple and are happy to have sisters without kids come, just to have a friend to go to the temple with.

4. Just Wanted to Say
Salt Lake City, UT,
Feb. 10, 2014

I'm really glad someone asked this question because I wanted to ask it! My husband and I have been married 2 years and have been in our ward since we got married. We tried really hard in the beginning to make friends in our new ward. However, we rent our home in an "old money" area and most people are established business people and are going on child 3+. We don't have any kids, I work and my husband is a student, and I feel super alienated in my ward because of it. I have voiced my concern in the past to various church officials, but even when I tried to reach out to others, it never went far. I tend to skip Relief Society now due to the lack of connectivity between myself and the other women -- I'd rather go to Sunday School and Sacrament where I can sit next to my husband. I work a bunch of Sundays too, so I can't exactly be consistent going anyways, so I understand what this reader is going through! Good luck!

5. ThornBirds
St.George, Utah,
Feb. 10, 2014

One must be a Nanny at Church to be accepted or make friends?