Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

As a stay-at-home mom turned work-at-home business owner, I don’t meet a lot of people. Since Dave works from home, too, it’s difficult for us to make new friends. The only people who come to our door that we don’t know are the Mormon Missionaries. Luckily, the friends I do have are ones to cherish. Dave is still friends with his best friend from grade school, Ed; and I’m still friends with my first friend, Rachelle.

Friendship is such an important aspect of motherhood. I’m still friends with a few friends from high school. And I’ve made great friends with some of the mothers of my daughters’ friends (cheer practice and dance lessons used to get me out of the house). These friendships are important, not just for me but to show my children how important friendships are.

According to research (Ferrer & Fugate), “Friends are vital to school-age children’s healthy development. Research has found that children who lack friends can suffer from emotional and mental difficulties later in life. Friendships provide children with more than just fun playmates. Friendships help children develop emotionally and morally. In interacting with friends, children learn many social skills, such as how to communicate, cooperate, and solve problems.”

Friendships last when the people in the friendship know how to be good friends. Kids learn that from the friendships they see. Do you treat your friends with respect? Are you there for them when they need help? Do you do thoughtful things for your friends? Are you a loyal friend?

Parents can foster friendship skills in children through (1) positive parent-child interactions; (2) parents’ roles as supervisors, coaches, and advisers during children’s play; and (3) parents’ roles as providers of social opportunities.

It takes time to build friendships and establish and maintain that sense of trust. It is important for children to understand and develop the skills for building and maintaining different types of friendships and relationships with their peers as well as other people in their environment. When our kids see us behaving in a way that demonstrates the power and value of friendship, they will model that behavior in their own friendships and relationships.