The Five Pillars of Tribe Building - Kimberly Thompson

 Our culture can feel like a strong current, sweeping families downstream with its force. There are many, many moms who are swimming against the current. They are swimming against the use of sexualized messages in marketing to their children, the gratuitous violence in video games and movies, the junk in the grocery stores, the injustices that pour in from everywhere, the lure of technology as a babysitter, the breakneck speed of postmodern life – shall I go on? No matter what you are swimming against today, there is one thing that I know you need.

 You need a tribe.

Everybody needs a tribe, but not everybody knows how to find theirs. I personally have built quite a few tribes over the years, and I’ve also had seasons without one. Here is what I’ve learned.

Reach out. This includes a general strategy of joining a group, club, or faith community that is built around your core values. It also includes picking up the phone and calling people one-on-one. Invite them to your house or to meet you for coffee. Find out if you click. Waiting until someone else makes the first move is a recipe for loneliness.

Be a friend. People swim against the current in different ways. Try not to get bent out of shape if someone doesn’t agree with you on specifics. Part of the point of being in community is to grow and learn. Define what it means to be “your tribe” in broad strokes rather than fine detail.

Use social media but always build in face-to-face time. The years of child rearing are so busy, even for those who are deliberately slowing down the pace. Social media, when used wisely, can help fill in the gaps when face to face time is scarce. If you and your tribe resolve to be as kind and respectful on social media as you are in person, it can enhance a sense of community and belonging. But don’t give up on face to face, in real life, actual physical meeting up.

Build an open system. An open system means there’s always room for one more, and it also allows people to make a graceful exit. Love is not a fixed quantity, it’s a channel you open. Open your heart wide, and your ability to love will get bigger and bigger. So will your tribe.

Follow the Golden Rule. Do to others what you would want them to do to you. Rather than blurting out your unsolicited opinion, ask yourself if it is kind, if it is helpful, or if it is necessary to say it. Gently but firmly turn the conversation away from gossip and criticism.

When you’ve got your tribe, nothing seems as overwhelming and scary. You share knowledge and wisdom, you commiserate, you bring casseroles (and bottles of wine). You are no longer swimming alone.


     I am Dr. Kimberly Thompson, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Lubbock, Texas. I work with mothers and their children to help them heal, grow, and live their most vibrant lives. My particular expertise is pregnant and postpartum women, and moms of “littles.” My book, Perfect Mothers Get Depressed, is available on Amazon and from Praeclarus Press. If you live within driving distance of Lubbock, you can work with me face-to-face; if you live anywhere else in the state of Texas, you can work with me via online therapy. Send me a message if you need more information, or call my office at (806) 224-0200 if you’re ready to book an appointment.