Support/Guidance. Parents NEED Friends.
It can be so easy to lose yourself in all your responsibilities as a parent. To run around like a chicken with it’s head cut off, or bury your head in the sand like an ostrich in fear.
Both of those analogies really creep up on you as life gets busier and busier, and the next thing you know you’re in full throttle. But you know what both of those examples have in common? Isolation. Neither of those feathered friends above are spending time getting refreshed by their peers.
If you know about oxytocin, then you’ll know that we were created to live in a loving connection with other people (and if you don’t know about oxytocin: it’s a hormone our bodies create to connect us to another person. Primarily released during lactation & child birth to bond with the baby, and during orgasm with our lover – it keeps us longing for them when they are gone, and we are less likely to make love to another).
You don’t see many indigenous peoples living solitary lives, and they don’t just create community in order to scare off predators or invaders. Why is this? As humans we long for community and relationship with our peers. Research studies have shown that people survive heart attack surgeries most effectively when they have loving, supportive relationships in their lives – that people have healthier bodies, clearer minds, and an overall sense of joy when they connect to other adults in meaningful relationships.
If you are shy or nervous when going meet new people it can be helpful to tell yourself that you’re doing it for your teen.
Having adult friendships helps you maintain seperateness and self-definition from your teen (mentioned in Part 2 of this series). You are able to role model for your teen what healthy friendships look like (remember those teen years, some of those friendships were iffy). If you are a single parent, it can occur that our children and teens can take on a friend or caregiver role to fulfill our need for friendship/companionship – having your own adult friends takes that burden from your teen (even if he’s placed that responsibility upon himself under no influence from you).
When you have friends who have pre-teens, teens, or grown children they can give you perspectives you wouldn’t have thought of on your own. The cliche: it takes a village to raise a child – does not stop at the teen years.
Plus, if your friends have teens you benefit two-fold: They might have anecdotes about the kids you haven’t heard yet, so you get a little glimpse into who your teen is when you’re not around. Second, if you all spend time together at the same time (adults visit adults while teens visit teens) in the same home, you’re still interacting with your teen while also getting the refreshing you so deeply need.
This is a pivotal point that I think many, many parents overlook. They think their martyrdom from social activities is proving they are devoted parents, but in the grand scheme of things better parents balance time at home and time with friends.
Written by Jessica Wilkerson, M.A.
You can find this, and other articles by Jessica Wilkerson at www.jessicawilkerson.com/blog
If you would like to schedule an appointment with Jessica, you can contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (530) 921-5122.
Jessica works for Chico Creek Counseling as a Marriage & Family Therapist Registered Intern #IMF69783 under the supervision of Joe R. Taylor, LMFT #MFT46406.