Building your tribe

At 17 I was selected to represent Australia for sport. Within six months I had collapsed on court, was told I had a heart condition and suddenly all my sponsors and supporters had disappeared! 

I learnt a very important lesson at that time which has gone on to serve me well throughout my life, especially when parenting children from difficult backgrounds. 

When you are experiencing victories in life, everyone surrounds you. But when you’re facing challenges and difficulties in life, those remaining by your side- they form your tribe. 

I was reminded of this recently when my son in all his wisdom came home from a play date and stated “Mummy I think Bob*is a friend for a reason only” 

I say to my children that there are friends for a reason, friends for a season and friends for a lifetime. 

When someone is in your life for a reason, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They assist you physically, emotionally or spiritually and then without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time they will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. 

Some people come into your life for a season. They are there because your turn has come to share, grow or learn. They may teach you something you have never done and bring you joy but they are only there for a season. 

Then there are friends for a lifetime- they make up your tribe, they are rare and the ones you want to hold on to: 

  • They are the friends who get on a plane within an hour of you transferring to ICU 
  • They are the friends who you can cancel on with a minutes notice because they get that your day can fall apart quickly 
  • They are the friends who love your children ferociously 
  • They are the friends who see you warts and all and remain by your side 
  • They are the friends who put their hands up to be your surrogate so that you can expand your family 
  • They are the friends who educated themselves on trauma in preparation for your children’s arrival 
  • They are the friends who you could serve up a microwave meal too whilst your house looks like a bomb hit it and treasure the company 
  • They are the friends who loyally turn up to all the crazy costume parties you organise 
  • They are the friends who confront a post office attendant on her very poor choice of wording when you are dumbfounded by her lack of compassion 

Very early on our path to parenthood it became quite clear that some of our friends did not approve of how we decided to form our family. I remember consciously making a choice of keeping friends who contributed to the wellbeing of our family and farewelling friendships that were not. Over time some friendships have been reshuffled, reprioritised and strengthened. I am grateful for the amazing tribe surrounding me and my family, celebrating in my children victories, fighting for them and embracing every challenge with us. I hope anyone raising a child or children with difficult backgrounds can feel the power of a loving tribe. 

Has raising children from difficult backgrounds changed your friendship circle?