‘Friends will carry you but they will never bring you back’ that was a regular refrain in my house when I was growing up. There was always more interest in my academic achievements than my friendships. Now, this isn’t a dig, that’s just how it was back then, 70’s/80’s. Children were left to form or break friendships as we deemed fit without interference. I confess, I had begun to exhibit the same patterns when I became a mum. On attending Ang’s first parents’ evening, I could not fathom why I was being told he was popular and had many friends. My only concern was how was he doing in school, that information came later on. Now he’s much older and I’m parenting him and Miss V (his sister) I’ve learnt supporting my children in establishing friendships is just as important and academic achievements. In fact, I suggest it’s even more important. Learning how to establish and foster healthy relationships is integral to our wellbeing and mental health. Muhammad Ali is quoted as saying, Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.’
Benefits of Friendship
Recently, I was speaking to a new mum about her baby’s routine and interaction. In passing, I asked about her friends and the possibility of meeting up with them with her baby. She said she only had one but they didn’t do things like that. Her comment struck a chord with me. I realised this happens to many women. When we marry and become mothers, some of us lose our network, perhaps because little or no thought is put into showing girls how to look after their social life and wellbeing.
A study has shown that, ‘Loneliness is a common experience with 80% of population below 18 years of age …. Young people ‘lack definite copying skills and adolescent period is the time of life when being accepted and loved is of such major importance to the formation of one’s identity.’
I would argue if left unchecked and unsupported, we don’t learn how to establish healthy friendships, it could lead to unhealthy relationships and will possibly experience feelings on anxiety and/or suffer from depression in later life. While being busy as a new wife and mother you may not notice what is missing until the kids are grown or if there is a marital breakdown.
So, apart from staving off loneliness, why is friendship important? Research has shown:
‘If you want to create positive change in your life or have a habit you want to break, friends can help you maintain your resolve to practice healthier habits. This may be one reason why strong friendships can lengthen your life.
One way friends can help you change for the better is by providing good examples. Maybe your best friend’s recent decision to give up smoking inspires you to quit, too.
Your friends might also support your choices by making changes with you.’
Good friendships can help you boost your self-confidence. From on own personal experience during my periods of anxiety and depression due to issues in the home, my friendship base was a beacon of light.
One of the most important skill a parent can teach their child is how to establish friendships and to be a good friend. Kindness which is integral to friendship changes society for the better. Some friendships we never outgrow. Older adults who are “living a socially active life and prioritizing social goals are associated with higher late-life satisfaction.”
Life is for living and you can do that better with friends.
Photo credit: Pexel.com