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Friends with benefits

 
Having friends can influence how your children grow up.
By Scott Dunlop

Pic: Shutterstock

Article originally in Parent24
Parenting can be a very lonely business. After all the work is done, you may not even have any time for anything else, but friendship is one aspect to raising kids which is too often overlooked. Not only do adult friends help parents to relax, but they can also provide some awesome support and life-lessons for your children.

I have had friends who have helped me through my lowest points, and celebrated with me at my highest points, friends who have taken an interest in my children, and who have helped me to be a better dad.

The ninja master

Ever had a friend who teaches you things? Not in the classroom sense, but in their innate wisdom or skill at coping with life. Just being around this friend enriches your existence. Not only do you pick up ways of dealing with various challenges, but you’ll also pass this skill on to your children. The friend who makes gentle suggestions. Not in a prescriptive way, but in a manner that allows you to make healthy choices. A master of common sense combined with an understanding of your own particular needs. He or she is a great teacher because they’re always learning from their environment, too.

The lifesaver
If you’ve slipped into a pool of trouble that’s threatening to swallow you up, a lifesaver friend is there to throw you a rope and help you get back onto solid ground. You don’t need that rope constantly, but, at key moments, you may just step out of your depth and need those helpful words or even that practical assistance. The lifesaver is a selfless person who has compassion and resources.

The ear

Couples spend years working, sometimes failing, at learning how to communicate. While this learning curve is swooping or dipping, it’s great to have someone else to talk to, someone who will listen to you with the ability to ignore your insecurities and point out the good and bad without making you feel judged. Talking can be as constructive as therapy.

The mushroom
Why a mushroom? Because he’s a fungi. Or fungirl. If you forget how to have fun, as a parent, you’ll struggle to enjoy the task of raising kids. Having a few laughs over a meal or a walk with someone who knows how to laugh and get you laughing can defuse problems and help all that accumulated stress melt away...

Who are these people? They’re people like you. You don’t need to have all of these in order to survive. Sometimes you’ll find that best friend in your partner. You can make friends online via social media, by joining a sports or social club or by meeting parents of kids in your child’s school at school events. Sometimes you’ll be playing some of these roles to your friends- in fact, that’s healthy. That way you won’t become too reliant on one-way friendships, but you’ll be able to reciprocate. As they say, they best way to avoid feeling lonely is to be friendly. Loneliness or self-isolation may also be symptoms of depression or other mental illness, so chat to your doctor if you suspect this may be a factor.

Your children benefit by observing their parents as social beings, and by seeing the ways in which friendship can add quality to life. Of course, the opposite can be said of destructive friendships, so do choose your friends with care.

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