Having Friends Benefits Your Kids, Too

Friendship isn’t just fun and convenient.  It is perhaps one of the most enjoyable ways to stay healthy, sane, and safe.

What’s more, research shows that not having friends during times of acute stress in your life may not only impact your own health, but also that of your children.  According to a 2008 study by Mickelson and Demmings, women who need social support the most are least likely to have it, and their kids may be paying a high price for it.

Low-income women are more likely to face stressful life events and to have inadequate social support.  Because they do not have as many traditional friends or family members as support to rely on during stressful times, they are more likely to lean on their young children for emotional support.  According to the study, when kids are expected to fill the role of more mature emotional supporters, it can have a negative effect on their wellbeing.

Mother Hugging Son, By David Castillo Dominici

Substituting a child for the role of a traditional supporter is not only less effective at improving the mom’s coping ability, but also contributes to a decrease in health status for her and her child, making both worse off.  In short, the situation becomes a perfect storm, wherein those most likely to experience stressful events are least able to lean on an appropriate support network.  Those who have the least social support then lean on their children, negatively impacting the health of themselves and their kids.

Studies also show that having a variety of social relationships is also important. Be active in volunteer activities, go to a happy hour event after work, chat with your neighbors, socialize after church, join an activity group, whatever. Just do it!

If the information above doesn’t make a tragic case for making friends and improving your social support network, then I don’t know what will.  If you have the means and opportunity to make friends or be social, then do it.

Your health – and that of your children – may depend on it.


Coffee is Good for You

And your friends! And you when you’re with friends!

I am happy to report that I have gone out for coffee with two awesome ladies recently. I knew one from college and the other from high school, and we are all in the same city now, so I figured it was time to reconnect!

Not only did we have a great time catching up, but I am happy to report that in addition to social time being good for women, so is coffee.

Coffee has health benefits

Not only do the antioxidants, natural chemicals, and caffeine provide certain heart-healthy benefits, but there are studies that also indicate that moderate coffee drinkers also have lower rates of depression and even diabetes. Women may also be able to reduce their risk of heart disease by sipping up to four cups per day, and some research demonstrates a small decrease in the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer in regular coffee drinkers.

For those of you who are nervous about the caffeine, decaf and other caffeinated drinks will confer the desired health benefits for certain conditions, but not for all. To minimize the negative effects of caffeine, try drinking most of your coffee by early afternoon to give your body plenty of time to process it before you go to sleep.

For the rest of us, this is good news to drink up, and an excellent excuse to grab a coffee with the girls.

In terms of progress on the Friendship Meter, things are going well – two invites and two events down. I’m getting over some of the awkward things by just sucking it up and talking or inviting anyway. It’s working! I’m happy to report my confidence is building and I am enjoying myself A TON in the process. Hooray!

The Friendship of Women

I saw a post on the book the Friendship of Womenand thought it looked like an inspiring and fitting piece of literature.  Gonna check it out!

The Friendship of Women

Check out the book!

Who needs friends anyway?

So I realized that this whole project would only be for personal satisfaction unless I could gather some tangible evidence that indeed, my mental and physical health would benefit from finding some super-duper friends.

I read about a billion magazines, and I know that this topic is featured often, although mostly in passing, but I figured I should drum up some real references to convince at least myself that I did not just imagine that friends are good for you.  (At least I hope I’m not that bad yet!)

So here goes:

Prevention Magazine – 8 Friends Every Woman Needs (and why!)

Woman’s Day Magazine – Lots of reasons to Exercise with a Lady Friend!

Glamour Magazine – 7 Friends Every Woman Needs (a different take on the types – does anybody have all 7 or 8?!)

Elle Magazine – The Importance of Friendship

Allure Magazine – Friends With Benefits (it’s not what you think!)


Anyway, this is just a smattering of what women’s magazines tell us about the importance of friends – good friends.  Although reading these types of articles may have made me more acutely aware of my utter lack of a best female friend, I think I already knew deep down that I have been missing out on something great, and that it’s time to change.

Next – to the science.  And after that – to the plan!

Welcome the poor, tired, friendless masses

Here begins a year-long journey to make friends. Not acquaintances, not shopping or drinking buddies, but full-fledged, got-your-back when your nose is to the wall kind of friends. Soul sisters. Amigas para siempre. BFF’s.

This project has been a long time in the making for me. I woke up one day (or rather, couldn’t fall asleep one night) and realized that I don’t have any true, close friends, and I WANT SOME.

After all I’ve read about how important friendship is, especially for women, to our health and sanity, I figured it was time for me to stop lamenting to my husband “I have no friends” and just go make some.

I am creating this blog to help myself process the path to “forever friends” and to help network with other people who are, though perhaps otherwise satisfied with their lives, missing the type of camaraderie and comfort that I feel comes with a secure, stable, and loving group of friends, however small it may be.

So get ready to read about what really matters – finding and keeping forever friends!