Each installment of The Friendship Files features a conversation between The Atlantic’s Julie Beck and two or more friends, exploring the history and significance of their relationship.
This week she talks with two women in the U.K. who became best friends when they were pregnant, and with their daughters, who are best friends, too. They “basically became a family unit,” as one of the moms put it—the girls grew up like siblings, and for several years they even lived next door to one another. The mothers had a falling out for a couple of years, but even during that time, they were there for both of their “daughters”—and the daughters remained friends. In separate interviews, edited together here, the moms and daughters discussed what family life is like when it includes friends so intimately.
Lisa Preston, 39, a shift manager at McDonald’s who lives in Grimsby, United Kingdom
Shannon Preston, 19, a rising sophomore at Leeds Beckett University studying product design
Sandra Ritchie, 43, the family coordinator for Grimsby Town Football Club
Alisha Ritchie, 19, currently taking a gap year
These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
Julie Beck: Lisa and Sandra, how did you meet and become friends?
Sandra Ritchie: I had been working at our local fish factory. Grimsby is a big fishing port, so at a certain age, most of us ended up working on a line. I started working with Lisa’s boyfriend first, but her boyfriend wouldn’t talk to me. He wouldn’t answer whenever I asked him anything, so I used to go, “Lisa, why won’t he talk?”