Many years ago, I had the pleasure of hanging out with a group of teen moms for two years while doing research for my Master’s thesis. It was a time of just being and talking with them to understand their world. I did not maintain a “professional distance” with the girls; we became friends. We socialized together, I babysat for them, I had them over to my house, I attended their births and baby showers.
What I learned is that like everyone else, what these girls needed most in their lives were friends. They needed people in their lives they could talk to, depend on and have fun with. I was by no means their best friend, but I was someone in their circle of friends they could reach out to.
A 75 year Harvard study found that a lack of close friendships is hazardous to your health and detrimental to to your happiness. We are social creatures and need interaction with others. It’s about quality of relationships, not just having lots of Facebook friends. We need at least one person in our life we can share with on a deeper level.
Friendships in adulthood are harder to maintain. Once we’re out of school and into the world of work, marriage, and kids, it can be hard to stay connected so friendships dwindle. Consistency is the key, so schedule regular friend time. Making new friends in adulthood can be challenging and takes time and effort.
Remember it’s important to get beyond the small talk to stuff that matters. Kids should be taught not to interrupt friend time unless it’s an emergency. This teaches them that friendships matter and how to be a good friend. Discuss deeper things like: What’s one thing your parents taught you that you want to pass on to your children? As well as practical questions: How do you disconnect from your cell phone on weekends?
The best resource you can have is a friend so nurture your friendships.