Tags: In This Issue, Parenting, Tweens & Teens
Evaluating Your Friendships
September 01, 2011I was recently talking with my oldest daughter who is now a "tweenager" about friendships. I started to tell her that there are lots of different kinds of friends. As she enters middle school, I advised her to be aware of those friends she can trust. There will not be many, but a select few who will stand by her at all times. I reminded her it is not the quantity of friends, but the quality of them. This is a strange concept for kids to transition into since in elementary school they all played together just fine. Now, as they grow and evolve as people, their friendships will evolve and change as well.
This discussion with my daughter got me thinking about my own friendships. As she has grown, so have I as a mom and as my own person. In fact, I am not at all the same mom that I was when I had my first daughter 12 years ago. Back then, my house was quiet and manageable with just my husband and myself and our one child. Over a decade later, I have had two more daughters since my first, added two dogs to the family and a cat and a handful of fish too. With my changing role as a mom has come more awareness of my own friendships. With little time to myself, I had to ask myself the question, "Who do I actually enjoy spending time with? Who makes me a better mom, person and friend?"
Following the advice I had recently given my oldest daughter, I was able to name just a select few who I trusted at this point in my life. Slowly over time, the all afternoon play dates ended and my time was filled with helping with homework, projects, and carpool. My long days at home with my kiddos were know chopped up into fragmented moments between my children and their activities. Now more than ever, when I spend time with friends, I want it fulfill me and inspire me, not bring me down or make me doubt myself.
I recently read that you are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with throughout your life. That is a powerful statement and worth taking a moment to contemplate. Do those friends who you spend the most time with help you grow, inspire and encourage you and build you up rather than tear you down? If so, then chances are, you are doing the same for others.
What I realized when talking with my daughter about friendships is that motherhood is not that different than moving from elementary school to middle school. As our kids grow and evolve so do we as moms and people. The transition is subtle, but the shift is an important one for us as well. As we get older and navigate through motherhood, we need and want to spend time with those who we love and trust the most. It is this small group that will help us, advise us and be honest with us along the journey.
One of my favorite quotes about friendship is by Albert Schweitzer, "In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit."
As moms, we get so busy and sometimes forget to take care of ourselves and our friendships. These relationships are vital to us and our well-being. It is OK to be choosy with who you spend time with when you actually do have some free time. After all, it is not the quantity of friends you have, but the quality of them.
Mary Susan Buhner is a Life Coach for Moms and author of "Mommy Magic: Tricks for Staying Sane in the Midst of Insanity." Visit her Web site at www.Mommy-Magic.com.