Therapist Reveals 5 Reasons You Might Be A 'Fringe Mom' Excluded From The Other Moms At School — & What To Do About It

It's not you, it's them! But there is something you can do to find your group of mom friends.

Mom friends hanging out LightField Studios / Shutterstock

If you're a mom, you've likely encountered a certain cliquishness among other parents at your kids' school at one time or another — or maybe even been iced out of the "mom group" completely. 

Why does this happen? Therapist and TikToker Anna Marcolin has some theories, as well as some ideas about what you can do if you find yourself in the out-group.

Marcolin shared 5 reasons you might be a 'fringe mom' excluded from other moms at school:

Many moms say it can be hard to break into the social circles at their kids' schools, which can make parenthood even more isolating than it already is. Marcolin dubbed these parents "fringe moms."

@askannamarcolin @heathermcdonald whom I love, was talking about fringe moms last week and I feel like this is a HUGE issue that needs a deep dive.A fringe mom is the mom who is on the outskirts of all the mom friend groups at your kid’s school. They don’t get invited to all the mom nights out, they feel iced out, they feel like the mom friend groups are all closed, and it’s not only hard for them but it can impact their kids too.I’ve been both a fringe mom and a mom with a great mom friend group and let me tell you, being a fringe mom sucks.If you’re a fringe mom, you’re definitely going to want to hit follow because I’ll be talking about this for the next couple of weeks.Comment “fringe” for my free fringe mom guide.. . . . #Askanna #askannamarcolin #lifecoachforwomen #therapistforwomen #lifecoachhighlandpark #therapisthighlandpark #lifecoachinchicago #therapistinchicago #celebritylifecoach #therapistandlifecoach #fringemom ♬ original sound - AskAnnaMarcolin

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They're not the moms who are perfectly content to be left alone with a book during baseball practice, but rather the moms who "feel iced out" and "so badly want a friend group." 

So why do some moms end up on the outs? Well, the good news is that it's not a reflection of who you are. Marcolin has identified five key dynamics that tend to cause this and some ways you can fix it.

1. Popularity and cliquishness 

If it seems like we're talking about an adult version of "Mean Girls," it's because we basically are! "There are certain moms when their kids get into the grade school years ... It's like they go back to middle school," Marcolin said.

"They go back to being 12, 13, 14 years old," she continued, meaning they form cliques and carefully curate who is considered "cool."

@askannamarcolin A fringe mom is a mom who isn’t a part of a friendship group with other moms at her kid’s school AND she wants to be. Some moms choose not to make friends with other school moms and that’s totally ok! But a fringe mom is a mom who really wants a mom friend group but feels iced out.If you missed my first video on fringe moms be sure to check it out below and read the comments. I think they’ll show you you’re not alone 🩷 @AskAnnaMarcolin#Askanna #askannamarcolin #lifecoachforwomen #therapistforwomen #lifecoachhighlandpark #therapisthighlandpark #lifecoachinchicago #therapistinchicago #celebritylifecoach #therapistandlifecoach #fringemom #itmom #friendgroups #momfriends ♬ original sound - AskAnnaMarcolin

2. Judgmental, exclusionary vibes

Part of the childish stratification of moms into "popular moms" and outsiders is a similarly childish judgment placed on other moms. "There's an energy that the 'it mom' or the popular girls are looking for," Marcolin explained, likening this to how elementary teachers can often spot future popular girls at an early age.

And if you don't have the vibe? The moms probably won't bother. (And much like in seventh grade, it's ultimately probably a good thing if you're not accepted by these overgrown teen girls!) 

3. Involvement in kids' sports and activities

It's not all about childish cliquishness, though — often, you're excluded from other moms at school based on purely structural and logistical factors. 


Marcolin said sports and other activities are where the heaviest socializing among school moms happens. So, if your kid's not a joiner, you might have a tougher time meeting other parents.

But even if your kid is into sports, if you're not the kind of mom who has time to be "hanging out at all the practices," it can be hard to break into the inner circle. "They're deepening their friendships because they're sitting there for 45 minutes" at every practice, she explained.

Moms watching their kids play soccer Nach-Noth / Shutterstock


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4. Connections at activities often extend into deeper social links

As Marcolin put it, "What starts at school… is deepening in bars and restaurants, and then from bars and restaurants, it's going into each other's homes."

So, if you're the kind of parent who doesn't have a lot of time or energy for nights out on top of spending every waking moment at basketball practice, this, too, can make it tough to break in. Which leads to number five…

5. Working moms are automatically at a disadvantage

You knew this was coming, right? Marcolin says stay-at-home moms have a built-in edge for getting into the mom groups because they have the time to volunteer at school for any and everything, making connections and getting to know everyone along the way. If you work full-time, you can't do that, of course. So what to do?

@kelscita As a working mom it is so hard to make new mok friends. I dont have time to invest in friendships, why does it have to be so hard. #workingmom #workingmomsoftiktok #workingmomstruggles #workingmommy #momsoftiktokover30 #momsoftiktokover30 #momsover30 #motherhoodunfiltered ♬ original sound - Kelscita

Marcolin said making friends as a 'fringe mom' is all about putting yourself out there and being proactive about finding like-minded moms.

"There's always people out there that want to be friends with you; you just haven't met them yet," Marcolin said. So, you have to find them. 

In a way, it's a lot like moving to a new city solo. According to Marcolin, Facebook groups are your best bet — nearly every community has one, and nearly every mom is in it. 

@askannamarcolin Hey fringe moms, this is for you. But first I have to clarify what a fringe mom is. A fringe mom is a mom who hasn’t been able to break into the cliquey mom groups at their kids school but WANTS mom friends so badly. If you don’t have mom friends and you don’t care…you’re not a fringe mom. A fringe mom is a mom who WANTS to let into the friend groups but is feeling iced out.I did a TikTok (yes say that on instagram) a few weeks ago on fringe moms that went viral and there was a heated conversation in the comments over the distinction so I wanted to clear it up. A fringe mom WANTS a mom friend group.Ok, so how do you get one? If you haven’t already, I want you to join the mom or parent Facebook group for your town. Almost every town has one. Then, think about what you enjoy doing and ask others to join. If you love to read post “hey moms! I’m starting a book club, let me know if you want to join! You can read the book, listen on audible or skip it and just come for cocktails and charcuterie and hang with other moms” (if you personally like cocktails and charcuterie. Or, if you’re really into working out post “hey moms! I’m starting a running group for moms. We’ll be running around xyz park and ending at Starbucks or a local coffee shop for drinks. Let me know if you want to join us!” Or if you work and want to find other working moms who get it post “hey moms, I’m starting a Saturday morning hangout at xyz park for moms who work outside the home so we can hang out while our kids play. Its hard to meet other working moms so I thought this would be fun. It’s right across the street from a coffee shop so I thought the location would be perfect. Let me know if you want to join us!” The key is to think of something you like to do and start a group around it because it’ll attract other moms with a shared interest. Try it and then come back here in the comments and tell me how it went! . . . #Askanna #askannamarcolin #lifecoachforwomen #therapistforwomen #lifecoachhighlandpark #therapisthighlandpark #lifecoachinchicago #therapistinchicago #celebritylifecoach #therapistandlifecoach #fringemoms ♬ original sound - AskAnnaMarcolin

She says to check out the ones in your area and attend events moms might have that interest you. And if there aren't any? Be the mom who starts some! "Go into your local group," Marcolin suggested, "and say, hey mom, I'm thinking about starting a running group on Saturday mornings," or whatever your preferred activity might be.


Hosting groups at your house — a book club, a crafting group, or a simple wine and cheese gathering — or being the one to suggest a meet-up at a park or coffee shop are great ideas, too.

"What I'm talking about here is you taking action on creating friendships in your life," Marcolin said. With a bit of effort, "you can find your people" — without having to kowtow to the cliquey Regina Georges of the carpool drop-off line!

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.