Guest post| A good friend is imperative to staying healthy. Equally important, becoming a parent can feel overwhelming for so many reasons so, it is essential to know your friend will be a good friend when you need it and here is why.
“Good friends help you find important things when you have lost them… your smile, your hope, and your courage”.Doe Zantamata
Let us start with unpicking what is it like to have a good friend. I am truly blessed to have two best friends. I have known one since I was 3 years old. We went to nursery, primary, middle, and high school together. In high school, we had separate friends, but it didn’t seem to matter. We always ended up enjoying each other’s company. I met No2 best friend at university, it wasn’t until we worked together, and I asked her to help me with my master’s degree research that we became incredibly close. Good friends are hard to come by, so I’m lucky to feel utterly supported by two wonderful women.
My Good Friend Traits
What makes two specific people gel? I believe it is when two interests collide so both people’s needs are met to make that relational connection. A good friend enriches your life, supports you when it’s tough, celebrates and encourages your successes and sometimes challenges the choices we make.
Feeling stressed or isolated for long periods can put pressure on our immune system by releasing a hormone called cortisol. Research has found a good friend’s company keeps us healthy by reducing cortisol and therefore reduces the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, a heart attack or a stroke. Additionally, talking to someone, sharing experiences, and laughing with a good friend plays a crucial part in building self-esteem and confidence. As a result, the feel-good factor is the body releasing opioids and oxytocin, further strengthening the friendship.
Having a positive influence made me feel secure; my good friend had my back, and this was tested to the full when I became a parent.
Becoming a Parent
My babies were born when I was 37yrs and 39yrs. I had plenty of time beforehand to socialise, so I didn’t miss the ‘going out, out’. For 20 years, I was fortunate to come and go as I pleased. I was over the moon when I found out I was pregnant. For this reason, I decided to try to parent through the lens of the attachment theory. I knew a vital process in child development was to stay present, validating and exploring feelings with my child.
I was unprepared to endure the sleep deprivation. It was agony because I still had to go to work and, my babies needed a lot of time and attention. So, I struggled to find the time for a haircut, never mind seeing my good friends. I used to see my friends twice a week, yet a month could drift by before I spoke to them!
On the rare occasion that I had a couple of hours, the last thing I wanted to do was go out. I wanted to shower, read a book, and sleep. I also wanted to be a good friend too. So, I tried my best to stay in touch. When I finally met up for coffee, I felt me again. I laughed and talked as if we had seen each other three days ago. I received
- Acceptance and validation
- Kindness and emotional support
- Humour, fun and distraction
- Empathy not sympathy or apathy
Good Friends Unconditional Support
My sons are 4yrs and 2yrs, and I speak to my good friends more often. Their unconditional support means we can outlast the hurdles and bumps life throws at us. A good friend will understand and empathise with each other. Rather than burdening, a good friend uplifts which benefits one’s health. So, the next time you need to decide to do the cleaning or to meet your good friend, ask yourself – do I need a little oxytocin and opioid release for my long-term health?
About the author
I’m enthusiastic and passionate about caring for children and young people. I have spent 22 years working in children services as a youth worker, youth theatre director and now a trainer. As a professional, we use evidence-based research to shape our practice. So, by the time I had my 2 sons, I wanted to use parenting strategies that were also based on scientific and psychological evidence. I never thought I’d be a blogger; however, I created a space to explore child development and attachment parenting as I clamber through daily situations. You can check out my work on http://raising2children.com/ and follow me on Twitter